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  1. Our simple storage guide to stress-free downsizing

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    Moving into a new home that has a little less space? Not sure how you’re going to fit all your belongings in? Well, blue self storage is here to help you with downsizing.

    There are many advantages to downsizing. From topping up your retirement pot to a fresh start on a new path, moving into a new home can have many bonuses.

    We’ve even seen a few things about how, instead of downsizing, we should really call it right-sizing. And we like that because it’s about moving to a new home that is the right size for you; it may be a little smaller than before… but it’ll be easier to clean!

    Older couple by the sea for downsizing blog

    On top of that is the potential for equity release when you downsize. According to This Is Money, “On average, borrowers release £52,269 from their property, although they can take up to 50 per cent of their home’s value depending on their age.” Smaller homes can also mean lower energy bills. Yet it’s not always about money – you may simply want to put your affairs in order now rather than later.

    So why doesn’t everyone downsize? Because moving house can be super stressful for starters. And that’s before we get to sorting through a lifetime of boxes, trinkets and memories to fit into a smaller home. Whether you’re choosing to downsize or life is forcing your hand, there are certain things you can do to make this process easier.

    And one of those things is where blue self storage can really help.

    Take some of the stress and heartache out of downsizing by using self-storage. Especially for items you can’t bear to part with or furniture that won’t fit into your new home.

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    How do I start downsizing?

    The three key things when downsizing your home are…

    • Planning
    • Realism
    • Lists

    All this depends on the size of the property you’re moving into but you must be realistic on what you can take, what you can lose, and what you want to pass on.

    Couple looking at sunset for downsizing blog

    To start on this journey, which can be emotional, make a list of everything in your current home – and don’t forget the attic and the shed. Then categorise this list.

    Try titles like this for your downsizing list:

    • Essential items
    • Fit for the tip
    • For family and friends
    • Donate to charity
    • Not sure

    Once you’ve made this list go over it with family or friends. There may be items that they’d like that you haven’t considered. Alternatively, there may be things they don’t have space for at the moment. Rather than lose them forever, self-storage can be a solution.

    Next, it’s time to revise and refine this list before we go on to planning. Be ruthless but keep items that hold significant sentimental value. Even if you don’t use it very often or haven’t for a very long time, it’s not worth losing something you care about. Instead, consider popping it in storage for the time being. However, if the item has no practical purpose and little emotional value, it’s time to sell or donate.

    And truly acknowledge that this can be an emotional process. So you may find it easier to start in rooms or with items you know you’re not too sentimental about. This way you can build up some momentum before you get bogged down with memories.

    You may well find that after going through your possessions and putting them in lists, you’ve still got too much stuff for your new place. That’s fine and that’s natural. But before you go hell for leather and discard everything, it’s time to plan where everything is going to go in your new place.

    Whether you want to use an app like Sweet Home 3D or go with graph paper, carefully measure your new home. Next size up your furniture and belongings. Now you’re ready to plot where everything is going to go. It’s important to be accurate and be honest – you’ll quickly see how much space you have to play with.

    With your plan and your list, you’ll be able to lay out in front of you what you can take with you and what you can’t. Now your organisation is underway, let’s look at packing!

    How do you pack for downsizing?

    With your plan in hand, it’s time to box up everything and clearly label where it’s going in your new home.

    But before you pack everything away now is a good time to share items that family and friends want and need before the move. Also use separate areas for items that you’re donating, selling, or putting in self-storage. Keeping these away from the things you’re taking will also make the process simpler.

    Ensure you have lots of boxes (ideally ones that can stack), marker pens, and resealable plastic bags. Bubble wrap is also useful, as are vacuum bags for clothes. And have lots to hand. You don’t want to lose your packing momentum by stopping to get more.

    We just mentioned it but labels are so important when downsizing. Include clear instructions of where it’s going in your new home as well as the contents on the label.

    Also, accept that you’re likely to get rid of a few items that you may regret losing. You can talk this over with friends and family if they’re open to safeguarding certain items for you. Alternatively popping things in storage is a temporary solution that removes the headache for you.

    Yet our one key message on downsizing is this: Rid yourself of items you don’t really need without disposing of things that you do.

    Other things to consider before you downsize

    It’s important to assess your finances before downsizing. Fees, duty and taxes can quickly eat into the savings you can make doing it. So…

    You might want to have a look at the Money Advice Service’s guide to downsizing for more financial info.

    Car boot sign for blue self storage downsizing blog

    Finally:

    Moving into a smaller home doesn’t have to be a step-down. It can be hugely positive as well as a money-saver. And while sorting through your possessions can be stressful, using blue self storage for prized belongings you can’t bear to part with can help ease the strain.

    Have you downsized recently? Got any tips on what worked and what didn’t work for you? Let us know on our socials!

  2. ‘Does it spark joy?’ How to get rid of sentimental possessions

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    Welcome to blue self storage’s self-help guide to divesting yourself of emotional baggage and items of sentimental value. Yep, this is a big one!

    Are you wondering how to get rid of sentimental possessions? Can’t quite let an item go? Or have possessions in your home that are loaded with memories but no longer spark joy?

    Lucky for you, blue self storage is here to help you cast off the reins of emotional distress and embrace minimalism – this is one powerful blog!

    Whether it’s heirlooms passed down by parents, mementos from your childhood, or things from your children’s upbringing, we all tend to hold on to items. We invest emotions and memories, both good and bad.

    And if you’ve ever lost a parent or loved one it can be even more difficult to let these items go – leading to clutter, spare rooms filled with someone else’s treasured possessions, arguments, yadda yadda, you get the sad drift.

     

    How do you know if it ‘sparks joy’?

    Items that spark joy are possessions that would feel crushing to lose – they make you too happy to get rid of.

    The question of items ‘sparking joy’ first came to light in January 2019 (although it was floating about in the popular sphere since 2013 at least).

    It springs from Marie Kondo and her ‘KonMari’ method, which “consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that ‘spark joy’ and choosing a place for everything from then on.”

    She’s a one-woman pioneer for minimalism and sensible living, and we recommend giving her Netflix show a watch.

    We’ve used Marie Kondo’s formula & passion for home decluttering to help you ‘lose the baggage’ for good – trust us, you’ll feel better for giving these items a new home.

    How to get rid of sentimental possessions – 9 easy tips:

    1. Start with the non-sentimental, practical stuff
    2. Say goodbye properly
    3. Take photos and digitize your memories
    4. Repurpose items to breathe fresh life into them
    5. Get rid of items that don’t make you happy
    6. Don’t let presents ruin your future
    7. Break up a collection
    8. Plan what you’re going to do with all that space
    9. Learn to live in the now

     

     

    Yet before you get started, it’s a good idea to get a few items together to help you on this journey. These are:

    • Rubbish bags – for stuff you’re removing
    • Storage boxes – for things you’re not sure on yet
    • Scrapbooks and shadow boxes – for items you want to display

    And have plenty of these to hand – you don’t want to lose momentum by nipping to the shops to get more during your sorting sessions.

    Another great thing to do is make a list of everything you treasure and want to keep before you go in the attic, room, wherever it is stored. If you can’t recall it before you go in there, ask yourself this; do you really need to keep it?

    OK, so let’s look in more detail at those 9 tips for parting with difficult items.

    Old Kettles for decluttering sentimental items blog

    Start with non-sentimental stuff

    Depending on how much you have to go through, it can be a good idea to start with non-sentimental items.

    Maybe you’re sorting out a family member’s property after they’ve gone into a home or have recently passed away. It may be easier to begin this emotional process by starting in the bathroom or the kitchen.

    Why? Because there is unlikely to be items with a lot of memories attached to them in these rooms. Begin here and you can build up some momentum before tackling other rooms and items with more sentimental weight.

    Goodbye sign for decluttering sentimental items

    Say goodbye properly

    Some people find closure in saying goodbye to items before letting go of them. This could be as big or as small as you feel is appropriate.

    For some, a type of ceremony will feel right, while for others a simple goodbye will be enough. Doing so can draw a curtain over it, making it easier to discard of the item.

    Old photos for for decluttering sentimental items

    Take photos and digitize your memories

    We live in the golden age of the magical cloud, so take advantage of virtual storage to hold on to memories with Google Drive or Dropbox.

    And it’s not just about scanning in old photos and documents. Taking pictures of bulky items can be a way of holding on to memories without holding on to the thing itself. There’s even 3-D scanning available if you want to go the whole hog.

    Jewellery for for decluttering sentimental items

    Repurpose items to breathe fresh life into them

    This works best with clothing and jewellery especially. If you have heirlooms and hand-me-downs that you cherish but can’t see yourself wearing again, then consider refashioning them into something you would. Reset a precious stone in a ring or take a snippet of a dress to carry on remembering without holding on to an item you simply won’t wear.

    Pro tip: If you have absolutely no impetus to repurpose or upcycle old items, and you know you won’t get round to it, then let them go. Put them in a charity shop where someone else can love them and give them life.

    Get rid of items that don’t make you happy

    Quite frankly, there’s no point keeping hold of things that hold bad memories. You don’t need them weighing you down and you don’t need them in your life.

    If you look at an item and it doesn’t make you happy then bin it or donate it.

     

    Don’t let presents ruin your future

    We tend to think that we need to hold on to gifts out of some sense of loyalty and guilt. We get it; it’s sad when someone has chosen a gift for you that wasn’t quite right.

    But realistically, most gift-givers don’t expect to see you using it or displaying it – it’s not a fair expectation. It’s a gift after all and it’s up to you what you do with it.

    And we’re gonna extend this to greetings cards. Did the person hand-make it? Then you might want to keep it. If the card came from Clintons, is it really that special? Be strong – we believe in you!

     

    Break up a collection

    Have you inherited your mamgu’s Toby Jug collection? Your uncle’s Groggs? Then consider keeping one of them to remind you of it and move on the rest. Unless of course, it comes as a set – we’ve all watched Antiques Roadshow – then you should sell them together.

    Plan what you’re going to do with all that space

    This whole process, this journey if you will, can be emotionally draining. So try to focus on the positives you’ll get from letting go of these items.

    Think, plan, and fantasise what you’re going to do with the space you’ll create. We’ve made some Pinterest boards on minimalist living so you can get excited about aaaaaall that lovely empty space!

    Dream about what you’re going to spend the money on from selling some of these items. Think about how much joy these items will bring to people in their new homes. Lastly, cherish the freedom and clarity you’ll have by moving on.

    Learn to live in the now

    Taking a leaf out of mindfulness, learn to treasure the moment we are all in. Let go of the past, nostalgia can hold a lot of us back. Instead, listen to Garth and LIVE IN THE NOW.  You might just find happiness here.


    Ultimately it’s important to remember that your memories are not held within the physical possessions that you own. They simply trigger them within you (and that’s why taking a photo of it can be just as good).

    However, you don’t have to jettison everything that holds sentimental value for you.

    So, if you’re not quite ready to throw away these mementoes but still need to create space then blue self storage can help. We offer containers from 48 sq ft up.

    Get in touch

    Have you decluttered sentimental items recently? Got any tips on what worked and what didn’t work for you? Let us know on our socials!

     

  3. Home staging: 8 tips to wow potential buyers

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    Home staging – otherwise known as making your home look attractive to prospective buyers – could be the difference between selling or not.

    Often, home owners will sell their house ‘as is’, with all of their belongings and furniture inside it. Why not, right?

    Well, according to Custom Home Staging and Design, “staged homes sell for about 6% more on average.”

    Without ‘staging your home’, you may be looking at reducing the listing price – not to mention that your home may hang around on the market for far longer than it needs to.

    Staged homes are, effectively, the difference between the pristine homes you see on Pinterest and any typical family home. Lived in, comfortable, chaotic – but perhaps not the best ‘sales pitch’.

    Photo credit: (L) katrinaleechambers.com / (R) managemyair.dk

    But where do you start with ‘home staging’?

    We’re sharing 8 easy tips below – but before that, we have one essential piece of advice to make your home desirable:

    Pretend it’s a 5 star hotel room you arrived at 5 minutes ago.

    Okay, it sounds weird, but hear us out… A 4 or 5 star hotel room comes with all the luxuries like little rolled towels in the bathroom, or freshly-cut flowers in a vase – but with the added extra of ‘life’ in the form of a pair of shoes, or a hanging robe, or an open book.

    You want your home to look perfect and sparkly, but you also want potential buyers to visualise themselves living there.

    No one actually visualises their clutter – instead, they imagine an aspirational version of their lives in your home. No mess, just beautiful, spacious rooms with a few of their most valuable belongings.

    So, if after this guide your bedroom feels like a luxury room with a few touches of life, you’re good to go!

    8 home staging tips to consider if you’re struggling to sell your house or flat…

     

    1. Declutter
    2. Dabble with rugs
    3. Bring in life with plants
    4. Banish bad odours
    5. Open your doors and your windows
    6. Use lots of mirrors
    7. Remove the pets
    8. Use Pinterest for inspiration

    Remove clutter in home staging

    1. Declutter your home

    A home full of furniture, odds-and-sods and stuff will not look appealing to homebuyers.

    Ideally, you want to maximise the space you have available to make your home to look as big and adaptable as possible.

    Putting your belongings in self storage while your house is on the market is a huge help.

    Ideally, you would store:

    • Large, non-essential furniture like unused desks
    • Bikes or recreational items you don’t use regularly
    • Boxes of paperwork, files, etc
    • Retro relics like computers, old TVs

    Use rugs in home staging

    2. Dabble with rugs

    Had the carpets down for a little while? Why not invest in a rug to freshen your floor up a little? It can really tie a room together.

    Depending on the rug, you can use it to bring a splash of colour and design to your rooms or make them more homely.

    It’s all about presenting the best image and possibilities for your house or flat.

    Plants in a staged home for added effect

    3. Breathe life into your home with plants

    Once you’ve put your non-essential items into storage, it’s time to bring a few things in – starting with plants.

    Plants are beautiful additions to any room, and add a pop of colour to an otherwise neutral palette.

    If you can’t keep a plant alive (and we’ve all been there) then a few fake plants dotted around are still aesthetically-pleasing.

    Use nice smells in home staging

    4. Eliminate bad smells

    This might be a bit of a no-brainer but bad odours are guaranteed to put off potential purchasers.

    Instead of going OTT with the Febreze, try the old estate agent trick or making coffee or baking bread or cakes. You could even leave these out as a welcome gift to people viewing your home – who doesn’t love free snacks?!

    Use open doors in home staging

    5. Open your doors and your windows

    While this’ll help with good odours, it’s also linked to psychology. Simply put, an open door is more welcoming than a closed one. It allows people to freely wander the property – and again, open doors, curtains and blinds allows more light in.

    Also make sure the key selling points of each room can be seen from the door, so people just popping their head in will immediately be impressed.

    Mirror for staging your home

    6. Use lots of mirrors

    Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s home will look bigger if I use them all? Another bit of a psychological ploy, but having mirrors around will make rooms look brighter and bigger.

    You can pick up vintage and ornate mirrors from charity shops – or you can get modern ones for cheap prices at IKEA.

    Take your dogs outside during a home viewing

    7. Remove the pets

    Not everyone likes dogs. Not everyone is a cat-lover. As amazing as they are, other people’s pets can be a turn-off for buyers – even if they have pets themselves!

    So if you’ve got a pet, it can be a good idea to not only take them out during home viewings, but also remove beds and toys too. And the cat litter tray. Definitely lose that.

    Use blue self storage Pinterest

    8. Use Pinterest for inspiration

    From nifty storage ideas to super soft furnishings, Pinterest has lots of ways to present your home as a show home.

    We’ve got plenty of boards to help you find interior design inspiration.

    Extra tips on home staging

    • Shampoo the carpet – a dirty, dated carpet can indicate the house hasn’t been maintained. If you have exposed floorboards, consider waxing and fixing any creaky ones
    • Don’t go too far – you still want your house to look like a liveable home, so don’t strip it bare!
    • Shelve it – shelves are the big interior design trend this year
    • Give them some space – house viewers tend to feel more comfortable if the owners are not in when they visit a property
    • Wait for spring and summer – more homes are sold then compared to autumn and winter
    • Remember the garden – especially the front garden if you have one, as first impressions definitely matter

    Do you have any killer tips on home staging that we’ve missed out on?

    Let us know on our social channels…

  4. Our top 10 things to remember when you’re moving home

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    Moving home is one of the most stressful life events – and an average person moving within the UK starts planning for their move a whole 4-6 weeks before ‘moving day’.

    With such an arduous process ahead of you, it’s essential to be organised and tick things off methodically, so there’s no extra stress and no need to rush.

    We’re exploring all the things to remember when moving house – for more help, check out our other advice articles.

    Important questions to ask the seller of your new home

    1. Where’s the main stopcock (to shut off the water)?
    2. Where are the gas and electricity meters?
    3. Do any surfaces need special cleaning products, e.g. wooden floors?
    4. What day are the bins collected?
    5. Do you have any old tins of paint in the same colour as the walls?
    6. Do you have any instruction manuals or warranties on electrical items?
    7. Where did the kitchen and bathroom tiles come from?
    8. Where did the fixed furniture come from, e.g., kitchen cabinets?
    9. Which company supplies the energy, broadband and home phone?
    10. Where is the thermostat?

    Redirect post - 10 things to remember when moving home

    Redirect the post

    If you don’t know who is moving into the property you are leaving, use the Royal Mail’s Postal Redirection service to ensure that any bills or other mail you’ve not changed your address on still reaches you. You can set up your redirect in advance of your moving day and for as long as you wish, although 6-12 months is usually sufficient.

    Take final meter readings - 10 things to remember when moving home

    Take final meter readings

    Remember to take water, gas and electricity meter readings at your property and notify your suppliers before you move, to ensure you don’t get billed for someone else’s usage.

    Update your car details - 10 things to remember when moving home - car parked on street

    Update your car details

    You will need to update the address on your driving licence, your car ownership certificate, and your car insurance, to ensure everything is sound on moving day.

    Notify billing companies - 10 things to remember when moving home - person typing on laptop

    Notify other companies

    As the big day draws nearer, you must also inform the HMRC, TV Licensing, banks, building societies and credit and store cards companies of your move to a new address, and of course the utilities – gas, electricity, water, phone, broadband and TV or on-demand subscription.

    Label boxes - 10 things to remember when moving home - Daschund dog in box
    *Please remember to label all cute dogs…

    Label boxes

    Labelling boxes properly is actually one of the top things people forget when moving house – yet one of the most important! Always label your boxes in marker pen with the name of the room they are to be put in when unloading and what’s in itMark any box containing fragile items clearly as this will ensure the crew take extra care when loading and unloading it from the van, and mark anything that’s got priority items with ‘unpack first’.

    Put screws and bolts from bits of furniture in freezer bags and stick it to the relevant bit of furniture with masking tape.

    Packaging materials - 10 things to remember when moving home - person carrying boxes

    Packaging materials

    Not using the right packing material can lead to a number of issues, the biggest one being risk of damage. Boxes that aren’t strong enough for their contents can easily collapse under the weight, or bin bags of clothes can tear open leaving your items at best scattered all over the floor and at worst broken or damaged.

    Other packaging material to remember to have at hand are bubble wrap, mattress covers, packaging tape and marker pens – all provided at blue self storage.

    We also sell used boxes for the discounted price of only £1, so you can save money and help reduce waste!

    Notify health services - 10 things to remember when moving home - person speaking to doctor

    Contact all health services

    You’ll have to let any medical organisations you deal with know you’re moving as well. Make registering at your new local GP a priority, as there may be a delay in getting treatment when you first register. Also not forgetting to contact dentists, opticians and vets.

    Collect all keys - 10 things to remember when moving home - person handing keys over

    Collect all keys

    Make sure you check in advance with the owners of the house that you’re buying whether they have all the keys you’ll need on moving day. Don’t forget about things like sheds, conservatories, garages and garden.

    Once you’re in, it’s a good idea to get ALL of your locks changed. The previous owners might no longer have keys but you can never be sure who else has been given a copy over the years, and many insurance policies will be invalid unless the locks have been changed.

    Brief the new owners - 10 things to remember when moving home - signing documents

    Preparing your home for the new owners

    It is very helpful if you prepare a briefing sheet for the new owner. This should include how to operate the boiler and alarm, the location of the meters, fuse box and stopcock, and any other information. You could either label all keys or leave them in the lock that they operate. Don’t forget shed and garage keys, or those for the window locks.

    Money makeover - 10 things to remember when moving home - piles of coins

    Give yourself a money makeover

    Moving house is the perfect time to assess your finances. You’ll be signing up to new services anyway, so could save £1,000s on your previous bills by ensuring you grab everything cheapest.

    If your property cost more than £125,000 (or £300,000 as a first-time buyer) you’ll have to pay your stamp duty bill within 30 days.

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