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moving vintage car

With four days before my move to a new apartment, The Last Load Of Laundry somehow became a poignant affair.

Mid-towel-folding, it struck me — a panic attack. Boom. Tight chest, trouble breathing, that OMIGODIMADEAHORRIBLEMISTAKE panic that hit for no real reason.

I’m not a panic-attack person, but that’s moving for you: One of the most stressful everyone-has-them life events out there.

Moving: kind of a big deal

It’s a BIG decision, moving. If you’re the kind of person who gets attached to where you live (which is a lot of us), the change in settings, finances, routine, and everything that comes with can be very intimidating and overwhelming, no matter how “smooth” your actual move might be.

It’s a rollercoaster. I love my new home! Did I do the right thing? I can’t wait to move! Oh, there’s so much work ahead! Decorating will be awesome! But it’s so expensive!

Little changes`

Then there are the little changes. For instance, aside from “more rent” thing, I have more light, more floorspace, and more awesome in my new apartment, but it also comes with way less storage, and fewer places to hang the art and photography I love, thanks to the first-world problem of more windows.

These are things I learned only last night, with a week before the move.

Seeing the space empty when you’re about to take possession is always a new experience. The flaws can’t hide, the spaces look smaller (or larger) when empty, making you question everything you previously thought about layout and potential.

It’s hard to really process storage and other miscellany about The Home Soon To Be Yours when it’s still not yours. Especially if you view it with tenants present each time, as I did. Who feels comfortable poking in still-lived-in closets with the owners standing behind you?

Different space, new opportunities!

So, you look, you walk through, see the amazing features, process a couple negatives, flip back to the OOH-SHINY, MUST-HAVE-THAT love for the positives, forgetting the negatives. So, there can be a shock when those impossible-to-ignore glaring negatives scream at you on your first visit alone to your new pad.

Naturally, buyer’s remorse hits the day after, when you’re doing, oh, say, laundry.

After my little freakout, I calmed down and remembered: It’s a completely different space, with different storage opportunities. As much as I’ve only noticed now, there’s much I’ve yet to learn about the space and its nooks and crannies.

My panic lasted about three minutes before I relaxed and adjusted my perspective.

Adjusting strategy

Okay. Problem: Storage. Solution? Smarter storage, stand-alone options, throw a few extra things in the charity/donation pick-up before the move, think of creative placement, and don’t forget all those up-high shelves that tend to hold way more than expected.

The lesson I can impart here is, Don’t panic. It’s a world full of solutions out there.

Homes have more customizing options than the whiners on House Hunters would have you think. There’s storage you can buy, inserts like little wire racks that’ll work in any setting, all the way through to getting custom-built add-ons, and stand-alone options like giant armoires or DIY conversion kits you can try.

Don’t get fatalistic. Your best friend here is your measuring tape. What are your problem spots? What can go where?

Whatever you do, just keep reminding yourself that your new home will require new solutions. What worked in your old home won’t likely work here, but don’t worry; something else will work just fine.

What works now?

For instance, I have four bookshelves I’ve historically kept together, but together won’t work well in my new place, where more windows means less uninterrupted wall space. Solution? Splitting them up between three spaces. The kitchen gets a narrow bookshelf for casseroles, cookbooks, and grains. It’ll look pretty and rustic, and it’ll solve the “too many shelves elsewhere” problem while also helping the “not enough kitchen storage” issue. Problem, meet solution.

Keep a list of your spaces you need to solve on your smartphone or in a notebook you take with you. Make note of their measurements, and write down if there’s anything else you need to remember about their shapes, because you’ll have Moving Brain and will forget some details, guaranteed.

Ever-improving act of owning and customizing a home

When you’re scouring the shops in person, your measuring tape will allow you to check oddball pieces for fit when you see ’em in shops. And maybe it won’t work where you’re thinking, but double-check your list, because it might work in another spot you’ve forgotten about.

From simple dollar-store hooks to bracketless single shelves to thrift store finds, and from built-in solutions to custom-ordered inserts, there are so many solutions out there that there’s no way there’s no answer to your conundrum.

Yes, your new-to-you home you wish was perfect from day one likely isn’t perfect at all. Fortunately, there’s something really rewarding about the slow ever-improving act of owning and customizing a home that’ll one day do everything you need it to do. Remember that — all this work is worth it. The pay-off is phenomenal.

Take a breath, relax. It may take a little time and a little work, but everything can be remedied, and even perfected, in that new home of yours.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.