By Carrie Dunlea
After bringing home your precious bubbly babies from the hospital, it can be hard for many parents to imagine that a day will come when our kids are off to college and then onto their own apartment or house.
But life happens, and children grow up and move out. Start thinking about it now because there will be a time when you’re left with a suddenly quiet house and probably much more time to spare.
If you’re a homeowner who doesn’t plan to relocate anytime in the near future, look around your house, see how you can renovate vacant rooms to fit your needs or hobbies and make that extra space more useful. Think of it as a time or rejuvenation, not sorrow.
• Hobby haven: If you’ve always meant to set up a crafting room, home-brewing station or an artist’s studio, now is an ideal time to do just that. Figure out which supplies you will need and begin reworking that former bedroom into a new sanctuary for leisure interests.
• Guest suite: If you’ve never had a spare bedroom to entertain guests, a child’s former bedroom can fit the bill. It may not be that difficult to transform such spaces into relaxing and inviting rooms for overnight guests. Be sure there is at least a queen-sized bed and a dresser or chest of
drawers to stash belongings. Select paint colors and linens in neutral tones so the room will be inviting to guests. Lack floor space but need a bed? Don’t forget there are plenty of Murphy bed options that offer storage when not in use.
• Living room redo: When there’s an entire soccer team coming over to hang out, that large sectional sofa or modular seating may be ideal. Now that the kids are out of the house and their friends are no longer coming over for movie night, living rooms can be made more intimate with small-scale seating. A small sofa and two comfortable chairs may be a more fitting option.
• At-home gym: Save on gym membership fees by building a mini studio right at home. Choose one of the larger bedrooms and then fill it with some fitness equipment, such as an elliptical trainer, a bench press bench and some free weights. Store rolled-up mats in the closet for yoga or Pilates sessions.
• Expanded bathroom: If space has always been at a premium in the bathroom, borrow area from an empty bedroom and turn it into a spa. Install a soaking tub separate from the shower, and fill the room with other amenities, such as a warming lamp or even a small sauna.
• Home office: Working from home a few days a week may be more plausible when nearing retirement, as it will be a smoother transition from heading to the office each day to spending more time at home. Turn a bedroom or den into an office space with a new desk and bookshelves.
An empty nest can be a bittersweet experience, but just as children move in, so can parents. Don’t live in the past. Make the situation work for you by transforming your home to better reflect their current needs.