The process of downsizing from a larger family home to something more manageable can be an emotional process. However, if done slowly and with care the journey can be liberating. It can also invoke excitement at the many new freedoms that maintaining a smaller property can offer.
After speaking with two Ottawa families who have recently transitioned to beautiful new spaces, it appears that downsizing can enhance a vibrant stage of life. And, when done correctly, it can still leave ample room for family, guests, gatherings and all that is important.
For one active Westboro couple, the decision to downsize from a five-bedroom home to a stunning penthouse in the same neighbourhood was a happy one. After successfully raising three children born in quick succession, they laughingly revealed that designing a space for two suited them perfectly. And the result is breathtaking. Huge windows showcase Ottawa’s most prized views and a 300-square-foot terrace provides a private, low-maintenance way to spend time outdoors.
Choosing to purchase a new condo in its earliest stages offered a platform for personal vision and design to flourish. Working with 2H Interior Design, contemporary elegance was achieved using soft colours, lighting and purchasing scale-sized furniture. A third bedroom was added by harvesting space from an adjacent unit, which also allowed for a private office. A unique guestroom feature is a magnificent fabric headboard framing two twin beds that can be easily pushed together or separated for visitors.
When I asked the wife, mother and real estate agent of this pair for her advice to those considering downsizing, she suggested taking it slow. “Making too many big changes too soon can result in regret. If you sell a larger home in the suburbs and then buy a tiny space for the same price downtown, you might be disappointed within a few years. Really think about what you want. Maybe rent for awhile to make sure your transition is exactly suited to your needs.”
Terri Hoddinott, a busy mother, passionate volunteer and adventurer, gradually downsized from a large property by renting first and trying another neighbourhood, then moving to a house in New Edinburgh. Terri knew a big renovation was a must and had a vision of what she wanted. Teaming up with her friend and designer, Lorie Derraugh of Homestyle Consulting By Lorie Derraugh, they worked to create a home that is warm, sophisticated and party perfect.
Terri’s love of family and entertaining required an open-flow concept. Calming, neutral paint choices were chosen to allow for a rotation of brightly coloured accessories and seasonal décor.
The main living room features luxurious, but comfortable, furniture with seating for many. A built-in wall unit displays Terri’s growing collection of local art and favourite treasures with plenty of concealed storage for electronic components.
Terri’s custom kitchen is full of heart and boasts a six-burner stove complete with a spectacular backsplash of hand-cut glass tiles from Italy. Hidden storage cabinets open to reveal enviable space for culinary necessities. To preserve the tranquility of the main floor, Terri and Lorie designed a large space in the basement where her three adult boys can spend time with their friends.
Lorie explained her goals for Terri when working on her home. “I wanted her to have a home that matched her welcoming personality. She is one of the most giving people and her door is always open.” Those goals were achieved with Terri’s describing the home as being completely her.
Top Ten Downsizing Tips from Catherine Pulcine
(Owner and Lead Designer of Decorating Den Interiors, The C.P.I. Team)
- Pare down belongings but keep what you love.
- Make the most out of every inch of space.
- Consider placing a desk under your staircase or building a cupboard to gain extra storage.
- Invest in comfortable dining room chairs that can easily be moved to the living room for additional seating.
- Repurpose already owned furniture. A dining room sideboard might make the perfect table, with storage, in an entranceway.
- Use vertical space too. Install shelves above couches or off the ground.
- Replace bedside tables with dressers and try to maximize storage space under beds as well.
- Don’t forget the functionality of bar cabinets, bar carts and nesting tables.
- Seek out filing cabinets that double as decorative end tables.
- Make the best use of your closet space with organizers and planning.