Rightsizing a Home

Rightsizing a home has come to mean downsizing to a smaller place when kids have left home and parents are left with unused space. Here are suggestions to help you determine the right size home for you.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

As a homeowner your age and circumstances change throughout your life and so should your home to adjust to your lifestyle needs. While that sounds logical enough you’d be surprised at how many people don’t make the connection. It’s particularly the case with older homeowners who rattle around in a big house where they raised their family, but can’t make the commitment to downsizing to a place that’s more suitable and less of a maintenance burden. Many younger homeowners face the opposite problem. When the real estate market was booming they bought the biggest house they could afford assuming the value of the property would rise. Unfortunately they’re left supporting a hefty mortgage and high energy bills and a market less inclined to McMansions.

How do you find the right size for a house? Take stock of the rooms you live in now and do some real time analysis of how you use each room in your current home or apartment. However it works best for you, do it. Keep a running log on paper or computer of what you do in the rooms. Do you need more or less space for the activities you and your family do most? Is more accessible storage a goal or maybe less of a formal living room? This won’t happen overnight, but after a few months with notes and observations of which rooms work for your lifestyle and which ones don’t, you should have an idea of what space you need based on how you use the space you have. Then you can create a bucket list of must-have and nice-to-have features in a house.

If you’re in the market for a larger home or remodeling one you’ll have a good idea of the activities you do at home. If your small laundry rooms works at more than washing and drying clothes, consider a larger one for your must-have list. If you’re downsizing to a smaller home you should have a better idea of how you can consolidate space. Maybe a dining room can be refashioned as a library with the addition of pocket doors, if privacy is important. If you tend to eat takeout or prepare simple fare rather than make gourmet every night, why have a mega kitchen? Think outside the proverbial box and take the time to know how much space you need and make it work for you and your lifestyle. That’s good advice whether you’re moving up or down the house scale.

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