How to Downsize in the 21st Century

A cluttered mess takes over the space inside a garage.

Smaller living spaces push us to get rid of many things we might otherwise hold onto for dear life. It can be particularly difficult to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, but the conveniences of modern technology have made it easier to filter out what to keep, what to downsize, how to store belongings, and what to convert to digital.

The TV

couple watching laptop

While a large television creates a sort of home theater, large TVs, even flat screens, can take up an awful lot of space. One way to downsize your technology is to get rid of your television altogether or downgrade to a smaller one. While large screens are awesome luxuries, unless you entertain a crowd at your home on a regular basis and are in need of a large screen, smaller sets are just as good. If you stream most of your movies and TV shows on your laptop or handheld device, you might not need your television at all.

Address Book

All of your contacts can be saved digitally in a multitude of places, from your computer to your email or phone, or on “the cloud.” Go through your contacts in your address book page by page, making sure you have everyone’s updated information. This will take a chunk of time, but save space and time in the long run. When people update their information in the future, there will be no need for crossing things out and re-writing their new information. Instead, you’ll be able to click and change it digitally.

Your Computer

old beat up computer

Computers are being upgraded and updated on a constant basis, as they are one of the fastest-moving forms of technology. If you still have a desktop computer at home, consider getting rid of it for a smaller device. Many versions of laptops and tablets are available these days with large amounts of digital storage. Ditch the desktop and upgrade to something smaller and newer, especially if your computer and its desk take up an abundance of space in your home. Upgrading will allow you to create a smaller office with a much larger work area.


toaster with bread

A kitchen is not complete without all of the necessary ingredients, but they take up so much space. Coffee pots, blenders, toasters, and other small appliances are much needed; it would be impossible to get rid of them entirely, but you can keep them while creating extra space if you downsize your small appliances by purchasing smaller versions or travel sizes. Try small, one-serving blenders, mini coffee pots or Keurigs, and toasters for two slices of bread instead of four. These smaller appliances take up less space on the counter and in the cabinet, and are just as efficient as larger models.

CDs and DVDs

While you may feel it necessary to keep hard copies of your favorite albums and movies, modern technology makes it very simple to convert both of these to digital files. Save your favorite CDs on your computer to turn them into digital playlists, and get rid of all those old plastic cases. The same goes for movies, many of which can be streamed from online programs such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. Save or download digital versions of your movies and music and the only storage space you’ll need is your hard drive. An external hard drive is easy enough to come by if you need one to store all of your digital media, and it takes up far less space than those DVD and CD cases.

Cups, Glasses, and Dinnerware

fancy dinnerware

Keep enough dinnerware on hand for the number of people living in your home plus a few extra guests. Plates, cups, and bowls are sold in sets of four, eight, or 12, but do you really need that many dishes? It can be nice to have extras around for company, but having an entire set for 12 folks in your cabinets takes up an awful lot of space if unused. For parties and larger events, keep reusable, recyclable, disposable plates and glasses around that are dishwasher-safe. These can be stacked and stored easily, and take up much less space. Grandma’s china cabinet might be beautiful, as well as the dinnerware it contains, but it might be time to part with it.

Spaces for Kids

No need for an entire playroom or play area for the kids if they have their own bedroom. Clear floor space in their bedroom by creating storage underneath furniture and along walls. When the kids are old enough, invest in bunk beds to save space, and install plenty of shelving on the walls to store toys, books, games, and clothes. Keep toys and books on lower shelves where the kids can reach them. Store seasonal clothing and rarely used items on higher shelves for parents to access when needed.


books and a reading device

There’s nothing like the feeling of a book in your hand or the smell of the paper as you’re reading. But unless you have tons of shelves to store them, books can take up way too much space. With reading tablets such as the iPad, Nook, or Kindle, there is no need to keep all those books around unless you’re a collector. Clear up some room and donate those books you never read or take them to your local used bookstore.