Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Design (MDes)




Molly Steenson


The issue of downsizing is becoming more prevalent as the population ages. While most people consider the process to be about reducing the number of possessions and space, for many downsizers the process, at its core, is about matching their space and possessions with their changing lifestyle. With children out of the home and health changes on the horizon, downsizers are considering how their homes can support their changing lives. Existing tools around the downsizing process focus on helping downsizers pare down their possessions more quickly and efficiently. They don’t consider the downsizing process as a moment to explore possible futures. However, this moment is ripe for futuring as downsizers try to match their things, environment, and practices with their changing circumstances. My thesis involved secondary research focused on practice-oriented design as well primary research with a small group of downsizers who were in the process of downsizing. The culmination of the thesis is a self-guided toolkit for downsizers that provides a framework for thinking through challenging choices that they encounter during the process. The toolkit provides methods for thinking more expansively about the process.

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