Profiles in Letting Go- Downsizing a Teenager!

Last winter my husband and I sat down to figure out how our 4 bedroom, 1950s rambler could continue to function well for our family. 

While we love our home, it’s missing many of the luxuries of newer homes.  The bedrooms are tight and there is no master bath, which meant that the four of us, plus guests, had to share the main-level bath.  And we were dealing with two growing kids that were ready for more space. 

So, instead of scrapping the home we love, we decided to rethink our spaces to see if we could solve some immediate problems & determine if this house would be able to support us in the years ahead.

The first step in the room shuffle was getting my daughter’s bedroom moved to the lower level (aka-basement).  The switch meant downsizing her from a fairly spacious room (considering all the bedrooms are small) to a tiny, narrow space that had been functioning as my husband’s office.  The move would give her more privacy and offer her a bathroom in the basement.  Plus and plus!

It took some creative thinking to not only revamp the office into a teen retreat, but the move would take her from a 10 x 14′ room to a 6.6 x 14’ room-  just enough space for a twin bed & a small chair if we planned it well.

We had to begin with her old room.  This room had been redecorated a few years ago and hadn’t been given a whole lot of thought since.  Her bookshelf, desk and dresser had become stuffed with books, school projects, collections of mini erasers, art supplies, photos, medals, nicknacks… the list went on.  She would need to pare it all down since none of this furniture would be making the move to the new room.

Lydia’s old room pre-purge

To avoid the overwhelm, we sorted by categories and area.  One day we focused on the books from the bookshelf.  Another session involved the clothes from the dresser.  Then shoes from the closet. 

Nicknacks came last.  Lydia pulled out her favorites in a first sweep and from there she took time to decide which of those items she would display and which ones would be stored in a memory box.

In between sorting & purging, we started to map out the layout for that tiny new room.  The storage would be limited to a small closet and a platform bed with open shelving.  Lydia and her dad designed & built the bed so that it could house baskets for bags, books & art supplies.

Her new closet was given a complete overhaul.  The doors were taken off & it was redesigned to enable her to walk into the space.  Open shelves with baskets absorbed the pared down clothes from her old dresser, and hooks & hanging space were added.  In the process, she donated 3 bags of clothes, hats & shoes that she didn’t love or that didn’t fit anymore!

When all the dust settled and the paint dried in the new room, we moved her in & crossed our fingers that the move would feel good for the whole family.  

And so far, so good!  We joke that Lydia is getting a preview to dorm-living at the age of 13!

Creating a plan, taking our time, and keeping Lydia involved in the whole process has been really rewarding.  It took some creativity and a lot of decisions, but this new bedroom has become a a cool, peaceful retreat for a girl that needs her own space to recharge.

Read her thoughts on her downsizing experiment in this interview.