Downsizing from 2400 sq.ft. with a double garage on 1/3 of an acre was a necessity for our Okanagan Living dream.
At the time, it was a sacrifice we were willing to make, but that perspective has changed in the last three months.
It wasn’t a sacrifice. It was an unexpected gift.
Our oversized double garage has been replaced by a 10×10 workshop my husband customized for maximum storage. Between the three pegboard walls, U-shaped work surface, and shelving built in between the studs, his space is more organized now than it ever was when we had more square footage.
The 1/3 acre we used to have was appealing from afar. The vast yard, sprawling gardens, and enormous trees provided an amazing visual from our second story windows.
But all that space took hours upon hours to maintain, and the neglect the yard and gardens had faced prior to us moving in created an expensive, time-consuming battle of weeds and overgrowth. By the time we had a handle on one corner of the yard, the others would get out of hand. The raking, mowing, shovelling, seeding, and weeding stole hours upon hours with little improvement.
And now, we have weekend projects.
Half a day’s work in our tiny yard produces huge changes. Two hours a day for a week gave us five manicured flower beds ready for spring planting. Twenty minutes of mowing and the job is done. Maintenance takes a fraction of the time and money it used to, leaving more for improvements.
Now onto the house.
This was where we felt we would be sacrificing the most. Going from three living rooms to one, losing the crawl space and cold room storage, the close proximity at all times…we were prepared for an uncomfortable adjustment period.
Part of our financial planning for this move involved a budget for storage and space-aware furniture, and I truly believe this is what made downsizing successful.
For the youngest two kids, we invested in Jysk loft beds. Picking them up on sale made up for the 16 hours of assembly, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Losing a playroom meant all toys and activities needed to be stored in their rooms, and these beauties made that possible.
For our teen and ourselves, we bought beds with drawers. Seasonal clothes, keepsakes, and other infrequent-use items are tucked neatly away and easily accessible. While our daughter was able to find one at Jysk, we had to turn to Amazon for a king size.
Cube storage was next on the list. For closets and as an entertainment centre, nothing beats wooden cube storage and fabric bins. They provide the perfect combination of display levels for important knickknacks and hidden spots for all those little things that can clutter a space fast.
Although I’m not a fan of wire shelving, every closet has one across the top to make maximum use of the height. This is where we store Christmas decorations, Halloween decor, and those bins of keepsakes that mean nothing to anyone outside of our family.
Blankets, towels, and other linens can quickly overtake previous space in a small home. Vacuum air-seal bags are amazing for shrinking those intermittent-use items, and 18″ square fabric cubes in the closet keep sheets, pillowcases, and hand towels neat and accessible.
We picked up a pair of old end tables for $50 and my husband is in the process of refinishing them. One has been modified to accommodate a speaker, the other (unfinished) serving as an electronics station for chrome books and iPads to hide unsightly cords behind a door.
But how are we functioning in half the floor space?
With our sunroom not yet redone to make a secondary living-room-type space, the five of us have had a big shift in how and where we spend our time.
The kids are making more use of their rooms, their new loft beds with desk space giving them their own work stations for LEGO and crafts. They also don’t feel disconnected from the rest of the family when they’re down the hall compared to when their rooms were 1-1.5 flights above us.
We watch more movies and shows together, listen to more music together, and generally spend more time in each other’s spheres. Chores have been divided by type (vacuum, mop, dust) rather than by area of the house.
On that note, housework takes 1/3 the time it used to.
And that alone negates the sacrifice’.
Our only real complaint with downsizing is something we had never considered before.
Moving from a four-level-split to a single story manufactured home means accepting an enormous drop in available wall space.
And we have A LOT of wall art.
So that’s where we are now. With the storage under control, the furniture functioning as needed, and a smooth transition to closer quarters, we have begun the process of downsizing our art collection.
And this may be our biggest challenge yet.
Which leads to the real question: Was it worth it?
Beautiful lake and mountain scenery aside, ignoring the lovely weather, not including the overall pleasant tone of Okanagan society…
Yes, downsizing was worth every single keep-or-toss decision. With less time spent on cleaning and maintaining the house and yard, we have more for family, more for exploration, more for renovating, and more for relaxation.
Highly recommend. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️