There are definite pros and cons to seeing your last child leave home and move on to the next chapter in his life. After you’ve closed that door behind him, you can look at your house in a whole new way.
It is a space waiting to be redone; an addition that’s already built. It just needs a few adjustments to make it suit your new needs and desires.
Before you decide on what kind of space you want, do some brainstorming to figure out what you want to use the extra space for. Options are endless, but it depends on your needs now and in the future and how long you plan on staying in your home, your budget, and the amount of work you’re prepared to do.
There are plenty of great ways to take advantage of that new found extra space when your children leave home, from the simple to the more complex. Here are 8 ways to arrange your house when children leave home:
Guest Room: One of the easiest and common uses of a child’s bedroom is turning it into the guest room. Simple updates with new paint, carpeting, bedding and perhaps even a bed or new mattress, can turn it into a welcoming space for your visitors.
Home Office: If you’ve stolen a space out of another area of your home to provide a work space either for your home business or even just to pay your bills, do your vacation research, finances, health, or recipes, after your child leaves home, the empty room could be updated to provide your new dream home office. Depending on your budget, you can add some built-ins for storage and update with paint or wall paper, fresh new carpet, drapes or blinds, a desk, lighting, etc.
Combination Home Office/Guest Room: Combining purposes for a room can help maximize the space, especially if you use it as one or the other most of the time. If you see the space as an office more than a guest room, consider installing a daybed, Murphy bed or sofa bed so that it feels more like an office. Using a laptop or tablet for work allows you the flexibility of relocating your office to a temporary location while visitors are with you.
Exercise/Yoga/Meditation Room: If getting to the gym is too far or inconvenient, you can take the extra space to make that gym you’ve always dreamed of. Depending on your approach to exercise, try out the room first before investing too much time or money into your gym. It can be as simple as clearing out the space and adding a soft rubberized surface, a yoga or exercise mat, some balls and a few weights, use your computer/tablet or TV for fitness shows and weight training to see how successful you’ll be.
Craft/Sewing/Wrapping room: When your children leave home, go all “Martha Stewart” and create your dream craft room. Imagine having a place where you can keep projects set up until they’re done, instead of using your dining room as a dumping ground and scrambling to clean everything up whenever company comes over or you are having a family dinner.
Create a Den: Now is the chance to create that warm and inviting space for cold winter nights, where you can curl up and read a book or watch a movie. Panel it in warm wood, add some bookcases, a Persian rug, some matching curtains, a loveseat or couch, TV and dimmable lighting to create that cozy atmosphere. For an extra touch, add a fireplace – with or without a chimney.
Master bedroom dream suite: Create a spa, master bathroom, walk-in closet. Depending on the shape of your house and where the now empty room is located, you might be able to use the space as an extension of your bedroom to create the master suite of your dreams. If you are opening up walls to do so, make sure you consult with a licensed contractor to identify load bearing walls, and where plumbing, electrical wiring, and HVAC venting are located.
Games Room: If you are an avid hobbyist or game player, set up the room to allow for all of your games and hobbies. Depending on the size of the space, you can add a few card tables for cards, puzzles, model building, etc. If it’s large enough you can add a mid-sized or standard sized ping pong table or billiard table (just make sure you measure dimensions first to make sure you have room).
Think beyond the empty room. Consider the entire house when you are looking to change things around. A child’s room may be in a different part of the house (ie., the basement), and you want to make a luxury master ensuite. Can you move whatever is beside your room now to the basement to make room?
Once your children have left your home, you have the opportunity to reclaim the space and use it for something you’ve always dreamed of. Gaining a room is like putting on an addition except without the added work of laying the foundation or blowing through an outside wall. You can move rooms around in your home to help satisfy your needs. These are just a few of the many options available to you as you, like your children, move on to the next phase in your life.