Downsizing. Making space. Minimizing. Shrinking the size of your material belongings. There are TV shows dedicated to the art of decluttering and downsizing all your belongings to the most basic and useful level. But before shows like Hoarders and Tidying Up With Marie Kondo aired, decluttering experts have written books and guides dedicated to helping everyone clean their houses, and to find space where there was once none.
In the books below, the authors have gathered life experiences, guidance, and a bit of encouragement to give you their best advice. They know how stressful and emotional changes to your home life can be. But in the end, you'll find ways to declutter that make your life better.
You'll be able to keep, give away, sell, donate, or discard all of the things you don't need to live a fulfilling life. Their idea is that once you get rid of the things that don't matter, you can live a life that does.
1. Upscale Downsizing: Creating a Stylish, Elegant, Smaller Home by Leslie Linsley
You can live in a small space and still have an elegant home, writes Leslie Linsley. In Upscale Downsizing, she offers ways to make your small home look as stylish as possible, and all within the space you live.
You'll discover the best ways to fit in all your storage needs, learn tricks for entertaining, and how to keep all the things you can't live without. Upscale Downsizing is full of photos and real-life stories to help you discover your new minimum.
2. The Sentimental Person’s Guide to Decluttering by Claire Middleton
While being sentimental is endearing, it can also clutter your home. Author Claire Middleton can't help you decide which baby's toy to keep, nor can she help you clean out your parent's house.
But her book, The Sentimental Person's Guide to Decluttering, does have lots of tricks to help you let go of the things that keep your home and life cluttered. So, if you're on the path to downsizing, know that it's okay to let go.
3. Downsizing the Silver Tsunami: Who to Call and Where Does the Stuff Go? by Sharon McRill
Whether you are downsizing, moving, or inheriting an estate, Sharon McRill offers some great advice. At only 70 pages, Downsizing the Silver Tsunami is a quick, easy-to-read reference guide to get you geared up to get rid of stuff.
McRill offers a quick overview of garage sales, estate sales, and consignment shops. She'll help you so that you know the best places and the right ways to manage your stuff.
4. Let it Go: Downsizing Your Way to a Richer, Happier Life by Peter Walsh
Downsizing, selling, and donating personal possessions is a complicated process. Even more so when one is grieving. Author Peter Walsh walks you through this process and part of your grief. Let it Go offers tips so that you can look at letting go of things with a different mind, not one with guilt.
Maybe you already know about garage and estate sales, or donations, and Craigslist. But sometimes it’s the little extra boost of encouragement that you might need more than anything.
5. Downsizing: How Decluttering Graces Your Heart and Home by Susan Rohrer
Susan Rohrer approaches downsizing from a spiritual perspective. In Downsizing, she takes the faith-based approach to help you destress, declutter, and organize your home.
According to Rohrer, by bringing faith into the process, you can lean on God to help you crack the sentimentality of objects. Then you can live a simpler life, with far fewer things to worry about. While her book speaks mostly to women, anyone who is seeking guidance while downsizing will enjoy this perspective.
6. 50 Things to Know to Downsize Your Life: How to Downsize, Organize, and Get Back to Basics by Dr. Lisa M. Rusczyk
Downsize Your Life offers quick, concise advice on how to organize and declutter the main living spaces in your home. With only 66 pages, the book is a breeze to read.
If this book speaks to you, you can find more of Lisa M. Rusczyk's other books online. She’s self-published with over 100 guides from which to choose. You'll learn about all the best things you need to know to make your life better and more organized, and in quick form.
7. Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home by Linda Hetzer and Janet Hulstrand
If your parents are still alive, then you have the luxury of asking them all the questions to the unknowns. But if you're going through things after they have passed, then you may be traveling the road with siblings who are on different pages.
Either way, as Moving On reminds us, it's important not to let nostalgia get the best of you. Recognizing that the memory is not in the object as much as it is in your head and heart will help most of all.
8. The Upside of Downsizing by Sara B. Hart, PhD
If you're looking for the book to get you through the emotions packed inside downsizing, this is the book. In The Upside of Downsizing, author Sara B. Hart will help you walk through your emotional journey by opening you up to hers. By using this personal approach, Hart helps you to understand your own motivations.
Our possessions don't have to be appendages or individual expressions. In fact, while they can be good memories, they can also be things that we let go.
9. Living with Less: How to Downsize to 100 Personal Possessions by Mary Lambert
If your eyes widened at the thought of reducing your personal possessions to just 100 items, then you've found the right reason to read this book. Living with Less can help you see how little we actually need things, even if we are sure that we do.
Lambert uses a two-part approach. First, you'll learn why downsizing is important. Then you'll learn how to do it. Her biggest challenge for you is to see how many items you can live with and without.
10. Moving in the Right Direction: The Senior’s Guide to Moving and Downsizing by Bruce Nemovitz
Moving in the Right Direction is Bruce's Nemowitz's personal journey in what he got rid of in moving. What seems like general information to some can be sage advice to others.
Bruce says that the key to happiness is more in the living of one's life than in one's stuff. So, being happy is about staying active, having hobbies, and finding fulfillment in relationships. He offers that while any move is challenging, it can be harder if you bottle up your emotions and go it alone.
11. Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go by Marni Jameson
Downsizing your parent's home is difficult for both you and your parents. In Downsizing the Family Home, Marni Jameson offers you her personal perspective. Inside, you'll find guidance, the necessary mindsets, and the right strategies to help you along the way.
Marni's also written a supplemental workbook. So, if you're feeling savvy or pressed for time, you might opt for the workbook alone. With it, you'll be able to chronicle all the memories and minutiae without having to take it with you.
12. The Best of the Rest: Downsizing for Boomers and Seniors by Doug and Judy Robinson
Doug and Judy Robinson have written the Canadian guide to downsizing. No matter who we are, we all are susceptible to being emotional to our belongings. The key is to make the transition happen with the least amount of stress as possible.
Inside their book, The Best of the Rest, you'll discover tips about what to keep, give away, sell, donate, or discard. You'll also find specific sections on senior housing as well as Alzheimer's.
13. The Art of Downsizing: A Step-by-step Guide to a Smooth Home Transition by Pierrette Raymond
Moving is a huge stressor. Not only do you have to figure out where you are going, but you also have to hire movers and then pay for it all.
On top of that, then there is also the downsizing. You’ll have to figure out what to take and what's going to fit in your new home. In The Art of Downsizing, you'll find a useful, step-by-step guide so that you can make the next transition a smooth one.
14. Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money, and Freedom by Rita Wilkins
Author Rita Wilkins went on a trip to Africa that opened her eyes. She came back thinking about why we continue to make inanimate things have more meaning than is necessary. Then she looked in her closet and found four dresses that looked almost exactly alike. With her book, Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle, you'll learn how to unburden your life from your objects.
15. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson
In The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning Margareta Magnusson will teach you how to downsize your possessions while giving you peace of mind. Plus, she'll help you to understand real generosity in a way you never have before. If you're looking for some fun, sage advice, read this book to learn more about the practice of Swedish death cleaning.
16. Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White
Are you mystified by people who can live in tiny houses or practice minimalism? If so, Dana K. White offers an alternative to extreme purging in Decluttering at the Speed of Life.
You can live in your home, but also manage your stuff, so it's not a nightmare scenario. From her point of view, you'll always deal with some clutter no matter what size of home you're in. So, the best way is to learn how to adjust your brain, not your space.
Experiences Matter More Than Things
Once you've found the book that best suits you, you can begin the process. When you're done, you may wish you had started sooner. It’s a transformative experience, as most of these authors have attested to in their guides and books to cleaning a house and slimming down possessions.
Perhaps it’s time you take a look at what no longer serves you, like the books that you'll never read again, or the necklace that you never wear. It might even be useful to pair it with end-of-life planning to eliminate any extra work for your loved ones, as well.
Looking for more tips? Read our guide on how to organize your day for success.