Living in smaller spaces is a trend we’ve watched closely for years, and it’s likely to grow for years to come. Here in Maine, where summers are short and winters limit mobility, careful planning can help you live well in less space.

You might make a change for convenience; others downsize out of necessity. For a small but growing contingent, motivation comes from a sense of duty to reduce a home’s environmental impact.

Regardless, moving remains one of the most stressful and disorienting life changes, and the later in life this change comes, the more important it is to plan well, move only what you should, and settle in with a sense of satisfaction.

All too often, however, we hear of people unwilling to part with items, or expecting large furnishings to work in smaller spaces. The results of poor planning often include:

Wasted money: moving unneeded items in, storing what won’t fit, and paying again to sell off, donate, or dispose of what doesn’t fit;

A period of dysfunction and disorganization, complicating the resolution and resettlement of furnishings;

Challenges that come from wanting to resume normal living. In many cases, downsizing directly results from a life event (retirement, health issues, etc.) that makes moving and adjusting to new circumstances necessary at the same time;

Sticker shock: Even those with deeper pockets can find the price of well-made furniture shocking. The longer you have enjoyed fine quality furniture, the harder it is to accept what well-constructed, American-made furniture costs now.

The most difficult aspect of downsizing for people used to living in a large home full of memories and heirlooms is how to assess what you have, and how to decide what you will need in the new, smaller space. Waiting too long to tackle the challenge, or underestimating how much has accumulated over the years, usually makes the transition even more stressful.

Several important tasks should be done as early as possible:

1. Inventory what you have, including measurements and function, if the item has a potential usefulness in the new space.

2. Get plans for the new space, and to the extent possible, confirm all relevant measurements.

3. Line up recipients or methods of releasing what you will not need or can’t take with you.

4. Shop around early to see what’s available and to establish your budget.

Inventorying personal effects and determining recipients ought to be done long before the move. Never promise, but invite those close to you to suggest items of interest. You’ll only know for certain what to let go of when you can plot the location of furnishings in a reliable plan of the new home.

Plans often contain errors or omit changes, so confirming the size of rooms, closets, windows, and hallways is essential. Creating a layout will help; plotting the floor plan to scale on graph paper, and making multiple photocopies to demonstrate various layouts, is often a revelation. Plotting, however, isn’t something many people are good at, but it helps immensely during and after the move, so it may make sense to enlist help. The aid of a well-selected friend or decorator can bring needed outside perspective to many aspects of planning, and hone assumptions made about using items from your current inventory.

Moving is never easy. As my father used to say, “Good luck is 90 percent good planning.”Ross Endicott at Endicott Home Furnishings, 883-3264 or www.condofurniture.com