What to Keep – What to Toss

What to Keep – What to Toss

Author: Lane Keating

This is Part 2 of my interview with certified Senior Real Estate Specialist and Staging Professional, Whitney Smith. The topic is “Downsizing Could Be Your Key to a Successful Retirement.”

If you are just deciding to make a move to smaller quarters, and you haven’t picked out your new living space, you probably don’t know exactly what furniture you’ll need to keep. Note: do not hang on to anything that is in bad condition, you hate, or are sick of looking at.

Below are some guidelines.


Sofa and 2 matching chairs – but only if the sofa is not too big and the pieces are in good condition.

Small dining room set seating 6 or less.

Love seat – can be used in many areas like a bedroom, den, office, etc.

Armless upholstered chair or dining chairs.

Arm chair or stool that swivels.

Beds less than 80 inches long, or anything that opens into a bed. Twin beds, daybeds, and trundle beds are particularly useful for overnight guests and can be used in guest rooms and home offices.

Any piece that has storage in drawers or behind cabinet doors. Even if the piece is old and beat up, you might be able to use it in a closet, back hall, garage, or basement.

Pieces on casters or small wheels.

Pairs of floor lamps, table lamps, or sconces.

Ottomans – can be used for extra seating. Add a tray for a stylish coffee table.

Small occasional tables, pedestal tables, drop-leaf or gate-leg tables.

Bookcases and multi-sectional entertainment units.

Benches, Trunks, Mirrors


Clothing that no longer fits, is out of style, in poor repair, or you haven’t worn in over 1 year.

Lots of figurines and other bric-a-brac you’ll need to dust and will make your new smaller space look cluttered and dated.

Books you’ll never read again or haven’t read yet.

Out-of-style artwork and framed posters.

Small appliances and gadgets you haven’t used in years.

Anything of which you have more than one – especially applicable in the kitchen.

Anything oversized: sofas, coffee tables, area rugs, king-sized beds.

Any furniture that is worn or shabby including area rugs.

Uncomfortable chairs.

Leggy plants or overgrown potted trees.

Old audio equipment as well as tapes, LPs, etc.

Old computer equipment and printers, etc.

Sporting equipment left over from your children or when you or your spouse where more active.

Big grandfather clocks, pianos, pool tables, etc. that have no sentimental value.

Outdated pillows, afghans, throws.

Old, worn-out bedding, table linens, bath or kitchen towels, and potholders.

Pots and pans that are dull, hard to clean, and improperly sized for the way you cook now.

Dishes and glassware that are chipped or not in complete sets.

Extra vases and candlesticks.

Old magazines and periodicals like National Geographic.

Personal records – taxes, etc. – that are more than 7 years old.

Wobbly bookcases, tables, or chairs.

Yard care equipment and outdoor furniture

Christmas decorations

Judgement Calls:

A small desk or writing table.

Stools and footstools.

Club chairs and modular seating that is not too large.


End tables with no storage capabilities.

Oversized head board or foot board.

Baker’s racks

The message is clear: Don’t let your possessions take possession of you and your life. Embrace the simplification that will occur when you rid yourself of the stuff you don’t need. There will be less to clean and dust – and more room in your house and life.

Once you have decided what you will keep and what needs to go, you have several options for getting rid of the things you don’t want and no longer need.

Sometimes it is easier to part with long-held possessions if you know they are going to a good home and will be appreciated. Perhaps you could lend or give that oversized piece that will no longer fit a dear friend or relative. Maybe the local historic society would welcome the gift of your special antique grandfather clock or grand piano (and it would be a tax deduction).

You can include some of your garden furniture with the sale of your home. The new buyers might also want your tractor, mower, snow blower, and gardening tools if you will no longer need them.

The same goes for house furniture. Chances are the buyers of your home will not have nearly enough furniture to fill it up. They might love to have your daughter’s canopy bed, the china closet in the dining room or the pool table in the finished basement.

Just remember – it is much easier to give your stuff away than it is to try and sell it. The clothing you no longer need could mean a lot to a needy person. A young family in your church could probably make good use of your extra bedroom set or sofa. Your excessive stuff is taking up space in your house and your life. Donate it and give it a second life.

Be sure to watch for the final installment: Sell Your Home for Top Dollar F-A-S-T!


Ready to Become Your Own Boss?

Get Started Today!

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your city name.
  • Please select your state.
  • Please enter your zip code.
  • This isn't a valid email address.
    Please enter your email address.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
  • Please enter a message.