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Downsizing Your Home With Style

by | Oct 30, 2007 | Authentic Living, Decorating Inspiration, Organization

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Downsizing Your Home With Style

I am a small house person. I am! Even though I have always dreamed of Old World mansions, castles and I currently live in a not-so-small house of 4300 square feet, still I am a small house person at heart. I like to be cozy and snug as a bug. I love the feeling of being in control of my house and not having my house in control of me. Bigger houses mean more stuff, more heat, more painting, more cleaning, more everything. And more is not always a good thing, contrary to popular belief. Remember the saying Less is More ? Good advice.

Lots of people these days are following that motto and trying to live a life of less. Less junk, less clutter, less stress and less house. So how do you downsize your world when you’ve spent your life accumulating stuff? I can tell you from personal experience, I downsized at one point many years ago from a larger house to a 1900 square foot English cottage and it was a complete disaster. I had stuff out on my lawn that wouldn’t even fit in the front door of my new home. So embarrassing! I was selling stuff for cheap just to clear the yard before the rains came. Eventually I worked my way through my stuff and found great delight at having only what I needed in my little nest. I learned a big lesson, planning your space before you downsize is essential. I had to learn the hard way, downsizing requires some careful thought!

If I had only had a guide to helping me with my move I could’ve have saved myself countless headaches and lots of money trying to make my big house stuff fit into my little house walls. This is why I am pleased to announce the release of a new book that is certain to help anyone through this difficult and emotional process.

I had the pleasure of speaking to interior designer and author Lauri Ward recently about her new book, DOWNSIZING YOUR HOME WITH STYLE: LIVING WELL IN A SMALLER SPACE. This handy book would be perfect for just about anyone wanting to live with less, from homeowners squeezing into a tiny apartment, to families who want to downsize from the stress of a large home, to people wanting to plan a second home on a small scale, or even for people just wanting to have less to manage in their current home. Empty-nesters and not-so-empty-nesters alike will find tried and true principles to get them through the challenges. Downsizing doesn’t have to mean losing your style either. In fact, when you do this right, you can end up with even more style with less stuff. I like that idea.

Downsizing Your Home With Style

The author of several best-selling books, Lauri Ward, is known for her common sense approach to stylish interiors. The founder of Use What You Have® Interiors in New York, Lauri revolutionized the interior design business in 1981 with a simple concept, using what people already have in their homes as a foundation for a more stylish, comfortable and updated room without spending a lot of money. Lauri is widely recognized as the pioneer of the groundbreaking redesign approach to affordable interior decorating.

Downsizing Your Home With Style

As a way to bring her unique philosophy to people around the world, Lauri founded the Interior Refiners Network®, a professional organization comprised of Interior Refiners she has personally trained and mentored with proven design principles and methods. Lauri has appeared on The Today Show, Oprah Winfrey and HGTV as well as countless other programs and publications. She is also a contributing home design expert at iVillage.

Downsizing Your Home With Style

I am fortunate to have been trained by Lauri and be a part of her incredible organization of women who help clients take the stress, expense and mystery out of interior design and help them to find beauty in what they already have. It is my privilege to recommend this book to you, knowing that it too will help countless people learn to use what they have more effectively to create beautiful and livable homes. Figuring out ways to have less stuff and more style sounds good to me, I just might get inspired to move back into a tiny cottage. Less is more, and this book will help you find the perfect balance.

Downsizing Your Home With Style

“Ward offers helpful advice for a difficult problem–how to pare and purge if you plan to downsize, then stylishly rearrange what’s left. ” – Chicago TribuneDownsizing Your Home With Style

Photo descriptions and credit: Real-life homeowners and solutions to make the best of less space as featured in the new book (click to go to Downsizing Your Home with Style: Living Well In a Smaller SpaceDownsizing Your Home With Style


  1. Jenn and Jacqui

    Hi Melissa! You are an angel :) Really enjoyed your post, it has come at just THE most perfect time for us! We are downsizing from a fairly large home to a two bedroom apartment with a study/den nook!!! Since February (on and off of course! ) we have been clearing, sorting, packing, selling, yard sales, ebay, charity donations, local doctors and dentist surgeries, you name it, our stuff has gone there!! It was quite a challenge! Don’t know how or why we have accumulated so much stuff, that is why our nickname is the Bowerbird!! Will grab a coffee, plonk into an armchair and have a good browse at these links tonight!! Thank you for always posting such wonderful and interesting posts! Have a great day! Cuddle for Winston :) Jenn and Jacqui

  2. kari and kijsa

    You are right….we all have so many things that we really don’t need (except for maybe that FABULOUS chair with the pleats at the bottom).

    Seriously, you were right on with this post!

    Have a blessed day!

    kari and kijsa

  3. Neutral Dwelling

    My friend and I just had a conversation about this subject the other day. We decided our motto should be:
    Simplify- Life is too short to be consumed by stuff.

  4. diane

    I love redesign, especially when you have a small budget. I love using what you have, especially in an unexpected way.

  5. Kathleen Grace

    I have lived in a small house for 26 years (1100 sq ft)and I still need to downsize. Seems I never stop sorting and weeding (and bringing more stuff in) it’s a delicate balance and someday, I hope to add on to the house! I think the biggest problem is storage. There are always things you just can’t live without (books!)And then the storage takes up space. This book might even be good for someone who isnt moving like me:>)

  6. janet


    Wish I had been there when you were getting rid of furniture on your lawn!! My house is only 1800 s.f. and now that all the boys are gone we have plenty of space to fix up and redo. It always worked with all the kids, but it seems just right for two.

  7. Christine

    Well… you stopped my heart when you said you live in a 4k feet house!! uhhmmm… I’m tryin’ to stretch a 1800k feet hut I guess…Your home is lovely and your ideas are fabulous!! I need all the help I can get…an inspiration. thank you.

  8. Terri

    Hmmm – sounds like a neat book, to add to my accumulation, I mean – collection. hehe.

    What a wonderful post and a great idea and timely too. Lots of people downsize, some by design and some because they must – moving to a new more expensive city, affordability, divorce. I bet there are more people than we realize who are downsizing. Not everyone keeps getting MORE in life! Funny, I am on the MORE path now, with the new house, accumulating more stuff, thinking about babies…but I also acknowledge that life is this funny fluid thing and you never know when it can all come crashing down, so I don’t get too attached, but even MORE would be nice. While at the same time, I find I hate consumption. It is a balance I can’t get right now. I want my house to look better, which means bringing in more stuff, but I also hate buying things, spending my hard earned dollars. I would rather save it and retire. Now or later? When do I spend? So, I am not worrying, just buying, but sometimes it makes me feel yucky inside and I just want to downsize and de-clutter and spend more time going for walks and socializing and reading and less time thinking about STUFF. Ugh. Such a funny world. BUT…I agree it is important to have lovely things that make you happy inside, whether you are living in 500ft2 or 5000ft2.
    I can’t imagine having 4000ft2 like you! My last condo was 680ft2 (perfect for one+cat!) and this house is 2100ft2 (perfect for two+cat!). Still I can’t keep it clean/organized/de-cluttered and it is only about 25% “decorated”…some rooms are just going to have to wait!
    But you have given me food for thought – to think about living a downsized life in the medium sized space I have. Less is more, I agree. I have heard it said that more isn’t always better, it is sometimes just more. How true!

    P.S. Beautiful Homes is a special interest publication of BHG, I think. If you can’t find copies I will send you some!!! It is beautiful, but I couldn’t find it when I googled it!


  9. Robin

    I would like to have a larger space with LESS STUFF!!!Actually…maybe when I grow older I’d like a small cottage but not just yet….I want a house big enough where I could disappear without leaving the house sometimes! LOL
    It’s just all that STUFF……

  10. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    It is rather difficult to purge and downsize, especially for those who are sentimentally attached to their belongings. A prime example is my mother, who lives in a very, very small home and still collects as though her house was large. Gotta love her spirit though…she just gets so attached. I do believe that there has to be a bit of angst to purge, but it does take a certain way of thinking and re-thinking to be able to “let go” of the little things and select only those most important. I would have a hard time, like my mom…..Maybe having two homes would make it easier. ha.


  11. Julie

    This was a great post! Use what you have is a radical concept with today’s materialistic views. Bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger debt! I think that’s why I’m starting to like flea markets and yard sales so much more than ever. I’m trying to change my look, without breaking the bank. Less is more is the concept I was talking about when it comes to decorating for the holidays. Instead of putting out every . single. decoration I have, I want a more organized, definitely prettier house this Christmas. But as a self-confessed pack rat, that’s not easy for me. Say a prayer will ya?


  12. Vee

    Hmmmm, looks as if this advice and that book could be just what I need!

  13. Rhonda

    Thanks for the recommendation Melissa. When my husband and I bought our small house 9 years ago, we saw it as a means to end. We knew that I would stay at home when we had children and it was what we could afford on his salary alone. At the time I did not put alot of consideration into decorating because, I didn’t expect to live here very long. As the years have gone by, I have come to appreciate our little nest and even when I return to teaching next year, I am not sure I want to give it up. I do get frustrated at times with the lack of space and my hodgepodge design, so I think I will check out this book and see if it can help me finally transform this house into our home.


  14. Ruth Welter

    Hi Melissa,

    I think you are right, smaller can definately be better. I think really large homes look fascinating but who would do all the cleaning?? I would of course!!! I’ve tried to de clutter in the last several years..partly because of the dusting factor but also because I figured I could really enjoy the collectibles and items that were precious to me, if I had less knick knack stuff to search through to get to them.

  15. Linda

    Love your blog, great post!

  16. Bethany

    Thanks for visiting my blog today!!! And this post is sooo appropriate to my life: We downsized from a 4,000 sq. ft. home (our supposed dream home) because we felt it was too large and too expensive to heat! Temporarily we moved into a 1500 sq. ft. apartment before we found our present house. Even though half my things were in storage, I actually enjoyed the coziness of the apartment and actually found myself enjoying decorating a smaller space! My house now is about average size… I need you to come help me decorate! I do have “Use What You Have” and have loaned it to numerous friends…it’s wonderful! I think I said this before, but I LOVE your blog…LOVE the photos!!!!!

  17. Penny, Mosaic Artist

    I too love small homes. My husband likes big ones. We compromised and have a 2,000 square foot home. Those books look very interesting….I am going to check them out the next time I am at Barnes and Noble!

  18. shelbi

    what a lovely blog :) so happy i have found you…i can see we are kindred spirits indeed :) i will soon be back. thank you for sharing your loveliness with the world :)


  19. Leaves

    Thanks for such a wonderful post. My husband and I always talking about how our style worked so much better in our smaller place. We’re starting to make our much bigger house look better, but it’s taken some time. When we lived in a smaller place, it just seemed we knew exactly what to do.

    I love this post. Thanks so much!

  20. Esther Sunday

    I can tell my tastes are slowly starting to lean towards less, even though it is still hard cuz I love stuff! Love, Esther

  21. Annechovie

    Thanks for the kind comments on my blog, Melissa! Congratulations on being a winner in the blog contest!I am adding your link to my blogroll.
    All the best to you!

  22. Mari-Nanci

    Thank you so much for the book suggestion. I just ordered it.


  23. Lauri Ward, author


    Thank you very much for your lovely book review of Downsizing Your Home With Style. I am very happy to find your blog as it is one of the best I’ve seen. You are a very gifted writer. Congratulations on doing a great job!

  24. Nate Anderson

    I am very impressed with these pictures.Definitely an inspiration.


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