Undoubtedly, it is human nature to stay with the status quo but I find with clients who continue to stay in the family home which is far too big for them, they are potentially robbing themselves of the opportunity to downsize for a bigger life!
When these clients, whose children have left home, are wanting interior design assistance, I ask questions to establish whether it could be more prudent for them to move into a smaller residence rather than trying to re-function their existing home. In many cases, if the family home is large with a big back yard, it is a better to consider downsizing.
These are some of the mistakes people can make if they choose not to downsize:
1. Walking past empty bedrooms … and other empty spaces in a large house
Their children are older and have left home, and my clients find they’re walking past empty bedrooms. These rooms no longer accommodate their grown children but, they are in danger of becoming junk rooms, filled with the stuff that the kids refuse to take with them.
Other rooms, such as the dining room, the cinema room or even the games room can lie dormant for months or even years at a time.
2. They end up continuing to live in a house, which is no longer appropriate for where they are in life now
Whilst the big family home was perfect as the children were growing up, the house now seems overwhelmingly large and lacks the sophistication of my clients’ careers and lifestyles.
It is difficult because many fond memories are invested in a family home but life and circumstances do change. Also, these days, it has become a priority for people to be able to ‘lock up and leave’ their home, without worrying about security.
3. High cost of maintenance, both inside and outside
Clients often find their existing family home is a maintenance minefield. Aside from the repairs, there is the constant cost of keeping the garden beautiful, the house painted inside and out, keeping guttering cleared, the possums out of the roof, technology updated, and loads more. Clients find that they’re constantly forking out money for invisible necessities.
4. High cost of running a large house … electricity, gas and other utilities
In addition to the cost of maintenance, there is the cost of running a big home. Electricity, gas and water mount up and if it is just one or two people living in the house, it is difficult to justify the expense, particularly if these clients travel or stay at their beach house whenever they can.
With modern ‘smart’ or intuitive technologies, residences can function more efficiently, substantially reducing utility costs.
5. Feeling out of control because of all the clutter … both the physical and psychological burden of too much stuff
Big, old houses may have loads of room but they do not necessarily have ample storage space.
In many instances when these houses were built, wardrobes were retro fitted years later; however, these wardrobes were not necessarily designed for the most efficient use of space nor designed to fit right up to the ceiling. Storage solutions are a greater imperative and far more efficient these days.
Also, baby boomers have been very keen to hang on to inherited pieces from their parents, whereas, our children seem far less interested in our furniture or trinkets.
Over the years, we have been passionate about keeping memorabilia, photographs, cookbooks, magazines and even clothes, and ultimately hanging onto all of this ‘stuff’ only serves to weigh us down.
6. Finding it difficult to navigate stairs … old houses are not future proofed
Lately, I have noticed that real estate values for double-storey homes with lifts command better prices than those without. The most obvious reason is that a lift allows residents to stay in the home for longer. This is a key ‘future proofing’ step, as it guarantees wheelchair access should the need arise, and also allows for ease of access to upper floors when experiencing joint pain. However, retro-fitting a lift in an old residence can be difficult, expensive and the end result may not look as aesthetically pleasing as you would hope for.
7. No longer entertaining because self-conscious about state of house
Many clients who remain in their large family homes appear not to have the enthusiasm for entertaining as they once might have and this is largely due to two factors.
First, they have become self-conscious of their home knowing that everything is and looks very tired, and secondly, the kitchen and dining spaces do not work as efficiently or look as beautiful as they should.
Secondly, as the majority of these clients are still working full-time, they need an elegant dining space, which is sophisticated and welcoming, plus they need a kitchen, which has the appropriate, easy to use appliances so a meal can be rustled up with minimal fuss.
More and more of my clients are seeking sophisticated and integrated lifestyles, situated closer to inner city areas. They want streamlined interior spaces with functional storage solutions.
When working with clients, I help select which pieces of furniture should be taken into their new interior scheme, or which ones should be given away or sold. Members of my team help sell those pieces, the proceeds of which go towards the purchase of contemporary furniture and accessories, which we then blend with their treasured items. The older pieces provide the all important soul for our clients’ interiors and guarantee that their new scheme is personalised.
We then organise the most efficient packers and removalists for a seamless and stress-free transition, oversee furniture placement for ideal functionality and so that their spaces will be able to accommodate family and friends at a moments notice. We also oversee the transfer and implementation of all internet and communication services.
It is important keep in mind that it is much easier to make changes when you are younger. Leaving downsizing to a smaller residence to the last moment not only robs you of a bigger life, but it is far more difficult to cope with as you become less able.
If you are considering downsizing, contact us for a complimentary discussion.