By Faith Teel
Special to Relocation.com
It’s that moment that every parent looks forward to with excitement and dread: your child has gone off to college or moved into their own apartment. Their room is empty, the bed is always made and no rock music comes blaring through the walls. Now what?
Whether this is a sad moment because you miss your child, or a happy one because the house is more serene, or a little of both, you still have to decide what to do with their room. Even for parents that miss their kids, the best course of action may be counter-intuitive: many experts recommend remodeling the room for a new purpose so that it doesn’t constantly remind you of the past.
If you are concerned that your child won’t feel welcome when he or she returns for a visit (or for summer break), you can discuss the changes with him (or her). Here are a few things to think about before you have your talk:
• Will your child want any of the furniture in the room? If not, can the furniture be re-used, or should it be sold or thrown away?
• If he or she has left keepsakes behind, what can be thrown away? What can be stored? Consider displaying the most precious items (such as trophies or pennants) so that your son or daughter still has a place in your home.
• As you update the room to suit your tastes, can you make concessions to your child’s taste? For example, if you want to paint the walls gray but your daughter loves pink, perhaps you could add pink accents in the lamps or curtains.
As you decide how to redecorate the room, think about how your life will change in your child’s absence. What hobbies will you pursue? Will you exercise more? Once you have a grasp of how you’ll use all of your new free time, you can update the room to accommodate your new lifestyle.
Here’s what other “empty-nesters” have made in their extra space:
A home office:
Whether you’re thinking of starting your own business or just need a place to keep your bills, a home office can help you stay organized.
o Suggested amenities: add a computer desk, computer chair, shelves and filing cabinets.
o Tip: To avoid eyestrain, be sure to have good task lighting.
A sewing room:
Experienced sewers know that you’ll get more done if you can keep your sewing machine out where it’s easy to access, instead of having to pack it up each time you finish a project.
o Suggested amenities: add a sewing table, cutting table, quilting frame, thread organizer, shelves for storing fabric.
A game room:
Do you and your friends get together to play poker or Uno? Why not set up a place for social card games?
o Suggested amenities: add a card table and chairs, mini-fridge, game-themed decor and the games themseleves.
o Tip: Don't go overboard and buy every single game out there. Pick three-five of your favorites and make it a point to have friends over once a month for an organized game night.
An art studio:
Have you always wanted to tap into your creative side? Now that your kids are grown up (or almost grown up), you may have more time to paint or craft.
o Suggested amenities: add corkboards for pinning ideas to, tables or easels, shelves to store supplies, a clean-up sink (for painters), paint, brushes, etc.
A media room:
Do you love to watch movies? Why not make your own home theater? The room can have furnishings as simple as a couch and a television, or you can go wild with theater seats and surround-sound!
o Suggested amenities: room-darkening curtains (for watching during the day), comfortable seating, a DVD player, etc.
A space to exercise:
Perhaps you already exercise regularly, or perhaps you’ve been putting it off. Either way, you’re more likely to keep in shape if you have a pleasant space for your daily workout.
o Suggested amenities: exercise mat, exercise equipment, inspiring pictures, a music system
A large closet:
If you have a big wardrobe crammed into a small closet, consider making the bedroom into a luxurious walk-in closet.
o Suggested amenities: cedar wall panels (an easy DIY project), sturdy closet rods and hangers, mirrors.
A “man cave”:
Does the gentleman of the house need a place to watch football games or finish his latest project? If so, consider remodeling the room to suit his tastes and needs.
o Suggested amenities: mini-fridge, sound system, TV, comfortable chair, shelves and tables for hobbies.
Whether you’re planning an art studio or installing a home theater, your redecorating budget doesn’t have to be large. Scour Craigslist and yard sales for perfect finds, and don’t be afraid to repaint and reuse your child’s old furniture. In many cases, you can cut down on costs by keeping the flooring as-is. Reclaiming your space can enrich your life without draining your wallet.