Five tips for downsizing your house in style

Five creative ideas on how to make the transition to a smaller home smooth and stylish from members of The List by House & Garden
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A dining space by House Nine Design.Robin Quarrelle Photography

Moving houses can be an exhausting experience for many reasons. As someone who has done it recently, I can attest to the fact that even with the most exhaustive to-do list there always seems to be something that is overlooked. In my case, this was the vast discrepancy between how many belongings I thought I had versus how many belongings I actually had, resulting in a shortage of boxes…

The process becomes even more of a challenge when we are faced with moving into a smaller home. From the initial search for the right space to the reckoning you have to have with years of built-up memorabilia, there are lots of things to consider. Luckily five of The List by House & Garden's experts have some tips on moving house, which will hopefully make the transition to a smaller home smoother and more stylish.

Multi-purpose furniture pieces

"As with any project, think about how you want to use your room to ensure you have functional furniture or joinery for that purpose," says the founder of House Nine Design, Jojo Barr. "In a living room, clients often feel they need a smaller sofa when downsizing, but this can make the room feel unbalanced. One full-sized sofa works better than trying to squeeze in two mini sofas. Simplicity is key, so opt for multi-purpose furniture pieces. For example, an ottoman can be used as a coffee table and extra seating. In the dining area, we love an upholstered dining bench. Not only does this allow for more seating, but it also adds softness to what is usually a very chair-heavy room. Again, don’t go too small on your dining bench, and if you can, include one with a back for extra comfort."

A cleverly designed sitting room by Poets Corner Interiors.

Amber-Rose Smith

Small but effective changes

"It is important to remember that downsizing, for many, is an exercise in reducing costs and there are plenty of budget-friendly things that you can do to make a real impact," says Sarah Limbert of Poets Corner Interiors. "For example, reducing the digital clutter by keeping wires and command hooks tidy is especially important in a smaller room and can make it feel more spacious. You should also think about utilizing your walls more. The area above a doorway can be the perfect spot for a bookshelf and you can easily add a mounted or fold-down desk to create a home working area in a tight space."

A sitting room with bespoke shelving by Studio Raymond.

Quality over quantity

"Downsizing your home presents an opportunity for curated living," says Carina Raymond of interior design firm Studio Raymond. "Prioritise quality over quantity to create a stylish, yet functional, downsized home. Carefully consider family heirlooms, antiques or cherished art that resonates with your lifestyle; when strategically placed, these can provide an effective focal point and make the new space immediately feel like home.

Another important consideration is the opportunity for bespoke joinery, to optimise space utilisation and boost storage, allowing you to declutter effectively. Other options include re-upholstering existing furniture to harmonise with your new space’s aesthetic and tactically placing mirrors to boost the perception of space."

A corner from Ann's houseboat design.

Centre your design around how you want to live

"We often think of downsizing as simply moving to somewhere smaller and therefore ‘less’. But it is also an exciting opportunity to choose a new lifestyle offering something special and ‘more’," says Ann Jackman of Decorbuddi. "For me, this meant exchanging a spacious terraced house for a one-bedroom houseboat and a new way of life.

The key is to start with a clear vision of how you want to live and design your home to suit this right down to the tiny details. My Norfolk Terrier Mikey means the world to me and so my design placed him and his dog bed centre stage."

A sitting room by Studio Augustine.

Embrace the everyday use of ‘special’ items

"Downsizing can be both challenging and exciting. It is an opportunity to curate a space rich in memory and value," says Studio Augustine's founder Augustine Atobatele. "Apartments often come with unique floor plans but this is all part of the fun. Storage might be an obstacle so consider celebrating the everyday use of your special 'Christmas only' candle holders or crockery. Also, think about ways of including your existing lighting pieces. It is simple to change out a lampshade to make a statement and fit the style of the new space"

Did you enjoy our tips on moving house? Get more advice from members of The List by House & Garden.