Two of my favorite things about having downsized is that we have met some adorable and fun young couples, whom we entertain at least quarterly. And because we're in a smaller-than-ever space, we're able to spend more quality time with each and every one of our guests. An added benefit of a downsized space is that entertaining is a bit less formal and a lot more fun -- and there are fewer headaches associated with preparation and clean-up, too!
The photo on the right captures creative use of space. Friends moved from the suburbs to an in-town property that was less than half the size of their old home. To accommodate the occasional house guest, they converted a large and largely unused attic into a chic little space with a bedroom and a bathroom. Skylights let in abundant light, and black-out shades help keep the attic cool in summer. (And let guests sleep in cool dark comfort when the shades are drawn.)
Just because you are leaving a big house doesn't mean you will not have a cozy and inviting space in which to enjoy yourself, your family and your friends. It just means it will be simpler to clean up after they leave. And if you mourn the loss of yards and gardens, make sure you find a place that has at least some outdoor space, such as a patio or balcony. Fill pots with seasonal plants and shrubs -- even vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, and an herb garden (if you're a cook).
As a "recovering gardener" who had nearly an acre of gardens spread between two houses, I now live in a 1,200 square foot apartment, But that doesn't mean I don't have lovely potted plants! I find that working on my container gardens is like therapy -- or at least what I call "mindless accomplishment." (Dig, plant, fertilize, dead-head, and water.) This scene is, alas, not my own (mine is so exposed that when it storms, the gusts would wipe out these lovely flowering plants), but it nicely captures how gorgeous you can make your outdoor space.
When you consider downsizing and you start looking for a new place, try to find one with access to the great outdoors. Having a balcony helps enlarge your space, which will help keep you from feeling boxed in in a new smaller townhouse or condo. Planters with flowering shrubs and annuals not only add color and texture, but they also act as a buffer between your tranquil space indoors and the street scene below.