I help my clients to declutter and organize their homes and offices for many different reasons. Recently, I’ve been asked to declutter and reorganize some homes because the homeowners need to live on the first floor to be able to age in place in a house they’ve lived in for decades. Using the stairs regularly has become a safety hazard or not possible for people living in 2-story homes, and they want to remain in those homes for as long as possible. If they do not want to install a stair lift, relocating to the first floor is a great option.
To streamline this transformation, I recommend the following steps:
1. Declutter the first floor
2. Remove excess furniture from the first floor
3. Repurpose first floor rooms
4. Move essential items and furniture from the second floor to the first floor
5. Set up a full bathroom downstairs
6. Declutter the second floor
7. Remove excess furniture from the second floor
Declutter the First Floor
Since this is the area where you’ll be mainly living, sort through every room and closet to declutter things you no longer want and use. These items can be given to family members, donated, sold, recycled, or tossed. Go through one room at a time, emptying furniture you don’t want, and creating space on your first floor.
Remove Excess Furniture From the First Floor
Too much furniture can make it difficult to navigate a room, so narrow it down to the essential pieces you want and use, then schedule a time for other pieces to be removed. Again, these could be taken by family members, sold to an estate sale company, picked up by a charity, or thrown away. If you don’t have a few strong friends, reach out to junk hauling companies, moving companies, or charities to do the heavy lifting. Please note that many junk haulers don’t just go straight to the dump, some drop off at charities as well.
Repurpose the First Floor Rooms
Consider how you’d like to use every room on your first floor. Just because a room has always been a dining room doesn’t mean it has to stay that way, it might make a good bedroom instead. If you have a living room AND a family room, maybe one of those can be converted to a bedroom, office, or craft room.
Move Essential Items and Furniture from the Second Floor to the First Floor
Now that space has been opened up, ask or hire someone to move only your important items and furniture downstairs, such as a your everyday clothing, and a bed and dresser. Leave the other things upstairs until you have more time to sort and declutter.
Set up a Full Bathroom Downstairs
If you do not have a full bathroom on your first floor, consider buying a portable shower stall so you don’t have to use the stairs to get to the shower. These come at different price points, for example, this Wheel Chair Accessible Portable Shower Stall Standard Model or this Shower Bay Portable Wheelchair Shower. Although a complete remodel of a downstairs bathroom would be ideal, that is not always possible, so these portable stalls are good alternatives.
Declutter the Second Floor
Once you’re set up and living on the first floor, you can now focus on decluttering the second floor. You could empty every room and closet, and adjust the upstairs heating and air conditioning temperature to cut costs. Another option is to set up the upstairs as guest bedrooms for visitors. Narrow the contents of the rooms down to beds, dressers and the items visitors will need. Just like before, empty the closets and furniture, then give away, sell, donate, recycle, or toss the things you don’t need. If you’re unable to get upstairs, ask a friend or hire someone, such as a Professional Organizer, to bring things to you downstairs, so you can sort through a small amount at a time and not feel overwhelmed.
Remove Excess Furniture from the Second Floor
Once the upstairs furniture is emptied and smaller things have been removed, reach out to the same people or company that helped you with moving the first floor furniture. Schedule a time for them to remove everything, or everything except guest beds and guest furniture, from the second floor.
Obviously, once you’re settled on the first floor, more can be done to make it a safe space. You may want to hire a handyman or renovation service to add doors or walls in some places, if your downstairs has an open floor plan. You may want to add accessible grab rails, or even renovate the entire bathroom. You may need to add ramps to the outside stairs as well, or enlarge some doorways to make them wheelchair accessible. Each home and individual situation is unique. This will take some time to declutter, reorganize and renovate a space, but know that help is available as you go through this process, and you will feel much safer when you’ve finally moved to first floor living.
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