Now that your last child has left home, are you wondering if downsizing is a good idea? Are you torn between leaving your home and making some changes that would give you what you think you need and want?

I have always been uncomfortable with the term “downsizing.” It has always had a negative connotation for me. It’s really about change and what you want to do with the change. I believe this can be a time in life to begin anew, to reflect on where life has taken you and how we can create a setting to live in that is more suitable — a space that speaks of the changes that have occurred and a time to examine what is working and what isn’t.

Many people look forward to down-sizing — moving from a larger family home to a smaller, easier-to-manage residence. This usually occurs when people retire or when their children have gone. They suddenly feel that their homes are too large to live in by themselves. Their needs are less and they don’t want as much responsibility in caring for a home, both inside and outside.

Stop! Don’t rush into any decision. Look around and decide where you would like to live. Picture yourself living in the new neighborhood. Imagine having less rooms or space than you have been accustomed to. Plan how you will arrange your life in the smaller spaces — which pieces you’d keep and which ones you’d give away or sell.

If, on the other hand, you would rather new-size, changes can be made to stay in the same house that will give you the feeling of a new home. Many believe it is a perfect time to redecorate or just make small changes, such as turning a child’s room into an office, an exercise room, a closet with space for packing for trips or a hobby room.

Many need larger areas when their families grow through the marriages of their children. And then, of course, grandchildren arrive. Suddenly, there are more people around the dining room table and more time spent with visits from family. It might even be a time to entertain more and invite old friends to visit so that you’ll need extra bedrooms.

If the living and dining rooms are connected, they can be combined to create a great room for entertaining and watching television. The family room then becomes a larger dining room. Using rooms differently may by enough change so that moving isn’t necessary. You might even examine the things you have longed to have in your home, such as a home theater, meditation area, music room or library.

Often a face lift is all that is needed to give a feeling of newness. New flooring, new paint and rearranging the furniture is enough to create the desired setting. If you want to splurge you can add new cabinets and hardware.

True, this can be a time of starting over. And there are many ways to do this. Most importantly, it is the time to determine what is new for you.

Remember, rooms have no feelings, but you do! JN

Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is

a Phoenix-based interior designer and the CEO of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for interior design. For more information, visit

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