Ten tips from an expert to help you downsize in style

Downsizing is a great opportunity, says interior designer specialist Julie Ockerby.

Ten tips from an expert to help you downsize in style

Interior design for older residents should be inspirational enough to create aspirational living spaces, says specialist interior designer Julie Ockerby. She says that downsizing is the perfect opportunity to design your ‘forever home’ exactly the way you want it. She offers these simple rules for downsizing perfection that can last a lifetime.

1. Only keep the things you love. Downsizing provides the perfect opportunity to rid yourself of anything in your home that doesn’t fill your heart with joy. It may well be that you’ll need to buy smaller furniture items anyway, so consider this as an opportunity to sell tired old pieces and replace them with the pieces of furniture that you’ve always wanted, especially when you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but yourself!

2. Don’t be afraid to be bold. When picking fabrics for any new furniture, throws, bedspreads, curtains or cushions, don’t be afraid to go bold with colours and textures, as this can help bring smaller spaces to life. To really future-proof your new abode, pick fabrics that are stain resistant and with waterproof backing.

3. Height matters. Make sure that any new furniture is at a height that suits you. Ensure your bed is not too low or too high, while sofas and armchairs should not be too low, for ease of access as you get a little older.

4. Give yourself space. To create a home you can live in for as long as possible, space is essential. This may seem counter-intuitive when downsizing, but even though you’re probably losing two or even three bedrooms, make sure your rooms are not too small to allow good access around your bed, dining table, chairs and sofas. You’ll be especially thankful for this if you or your friends end up needing a walking stick.

5. Deck the wall. One area you might need to edit a bit but don’t need to cull dramatically is your artwork. Create a dramatic feature wall by covering one wall with favourite pieces that combine art from several rooms.

6. Avoid clutter. Clutter is the enemy of good interior design and easy living. Cluttered tables and shelves are harder to keep clean, easier to mess up or knock over, and can actually be confusing on the eye and thus the mind. You’ll appreciate and enjoy having just your favourite trinkets on display – even if you have to rotate them every now and again.

7. Don’t slip up. Use non-slip tiles wherever possible. Definitely use them in the bathroom, but also consider the kitchen and laundry, where spills can quickly become just as much of a hazard as a wet bathroom floor.

8. Light up your life. Good lighting, especially in often neglected areas like the shower or the dressing space in front of your wardrobes, can make a huge difference to the functionality, aesthetics and safety of essential areas that are used daily.

9. Say no to sharp corners. This applies to all ages, so it’s an especially handy tip for when visiting grandchildren are toddling around.

10. Spoil yourself. Finally, and this is my personal favourite, splash out a bit with the financial equity you free up when downsizing on an interior feature you’ve always dreamt of but could never quite afford. Perhaps it’s a top-of-the-line steam oven, his and hers vanities or a stunning statement piece of art.

That last tip brings us to my personal crusade (as well as banning beige forever). While I’m encouraging you to create your own dream interior, the more you cater for your family, the more often they will visit. Have a games cupboard, put delicate objects up on shelves out of toddlers’ reach, use wipe-clean paint and make sure your wifi is fast enough not to send visiting teens running for the hills (or nearest hotspot). If you only have space for one screen, make sure you have headphones so kids can watch or play video games, while still allowing you to engage in easy conversation.

What can you add to Julie’s downsizing tips?

Julie Ockerby is creative director of Meli Studio Australia, an interior design firm that specialises in sophisticated living for seniors. You can contact Julie and her team at Meli Studio.

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    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    20th Aug 2019
    10:49am
    The next promotion from the current government trying to get people to downsize and live off the money they free up.........which of course keeps them off the pension until all spent.
    Ignore this article. Its BS written by a self interest business person who does not understand what the bigger game is. Perhaps she should squander her own capital.
    Paddington
    20th Aug 2019
    11:54am
    Yep, Mick! It is expensive to move for a start. My sister has downsized and now moved again. The place is too small. We are home all the time as eating out, overseas holidays, etc are not within our budget. She is not too happy with the lack of space.
    But our home is not small although we have moved only 15 years ago a long time after an empty nest. The little birds come back for holidays or because of other reasons.
    Stay put as it is not mandatory to live in a shoebox!
    shirboy
    20th Aug 2019
    4:36pm
    Mick I really like your forthright replies to situations.
    ozirules
    20th Aug 2019
    11:33am
    tip 10 is the best, just spoil yourself on whatever pleases you particularly if it reduces your asset level. Buy that fancy car which devalues as soon as you leave the showroom. Go on an expensive holiday or have regular indulgences. The act of downsizing should free up cash to splash not be a government savings measure.
    Fair Dinkum
    20th Aug 2019
    4:12pm
    To me downsizing is a farce for many. I have a large home in Canberra and if I was to sell it I would be lucky to get enough to purchase a smaller place in a retirement village when you take into account of the estate charges the cost of moving and other associated cost. I do not want to live in the future slums they are building in parts of Canberra . I think the average price of a home in ACT is somewhere around $700000 to get a 3 bedroom in a retirement village is about the same or more. So those who recommend to downsize please explain how, and not end up with a mortgage to achieve it
    Fair Dinkum
    20th Aug 2019
    4:12pm
    To me downsizing is a farce for many. I have a large home in Canberra and if I was to sell it I would be lucky to get enough to purchase a smaller place in a retirement village when you take into account of the estate charges the cost of moving and other associated cost. I do not want to live in the future slums they are building in parts of Canberra . I think the average price of a home in ACT is somewhere around $700000 to get a 3 bedroom in a retirement village is about the same or more. So those who recommend to downsize please explain how, and not end up with a mortgage to achieve it
    shirboy
    20th Aug 2019
    4:33pm
    I am in the throes of really needing to downsize as the effort of looking after a pool & trying to keep lawns & gardens manageable is taking it's toll. Having to ask for help from my boys is annoying for me. I am 83 years young living on the age pension plus the dwindling death insurance left by my husband. The trouble is if I sell my home & clear maybe 100,000 which I would use some of for newer furniture,I would lose my pension & have to live on that surplus for how many years? My sisters lived until they were 94.I am in a quandary.


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