There’s no need to let empty nest syndrome make you blue. Kids grow up and start their own lives — that’s the natural order of things. And that’s also when you can start a whole new phase of your own life, when you have the freedom to start redecorating your home for you.
For years, redecorating meant considering the best way to incorporate your children’s needs along with your own. Now that they’re out enjoying life as young adults, you can take on projects that you’ve always wanted to do — you can start redecorating for you!
Think about the clever ideas you’ve seen in magazines, on TV shows or websites like Pinterest. If you’re like most homeowners, you probably have a small handful of changes you’d like to make. Now that a houseful of people aren’t sharing one or two bathrooms and there are unused bedrooms, it’s time to rethink how you want to use your house, to make it work for you and your new life.
Here are a few ways to shake off any guilt and get those creative ideas flowing:
Redecorating Doesn’t Mean Tossing Mementos
Just because you decide to redecorate, doesn’t mean tossing out family memories. It’s not disrespectful to your children to convert their old rooms into something you can use. After all, they have their own homes now.
Keep anything and everything that’s important to you. Childhood memories such as trophies, school achievement records, special toys, and other items can either make their way into protected storage, or you can incorporate some items into your new decorating scheme.
You’ll want to take inventory of furniture that belonged to your kids, too. They might want to take some of it, such as a dresser or chair, along in their new lives. Then again, bunk beds or a twin bed that’s seen better days might not be their idea of great “first apartment” decor. If you don't want it and neither do they, it's probably time for a yard sale.
A good rule of thumb on whether to keep and use, keep and store, or toss altogether is whether the item holds any special fondness for you or your kids. If they want it but can’t take it with them now, maybe it should go in the attic. If you smile every time you see a row of trophies, maybe you need a new curio cabinet to display them. But if a broken table serves no purpose for anyone, don’t think that by tossing it, you’re throwing away their childhood.
Redecorating Means Different Things to Different People
Some homeowners spend a small fortune building an addition for extra space. If you have one or more bedrooms with no occupants, it makes more sense to use that space for something else. In fact I've combined my quilt room with the guest room for many years and my design board (below left) is a Murphy bed that folds down when we have company.
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a library or home office. Or perhaps you’ve wanted to take up crafts, but don’t want containers and organizers filling up the living room, dining room, or closets. What about an exercise room? An unused bedroom is perfect for redecorating, to create space to support new activities you've been wanting to do. (Read: Empty Nesters Enjoying Their Homes)
Bathrooms are another part of the home where you might want to make big changes. Busy bathrooms that several people share aren’t always the best candidates for fancy fittings and luxurious materials. But now might be the time to splurge on yourself.
If your utilitarian acrylic shower and tub insert isn’t much to look at, a new bathroom could really give you a peaceful and beautiful space to relax and enjoy a hot bath without someone waiting at the door for their turn.
You Can Also Change Decor Outdoors
Changing how you use your home isn’t limited to indoors. A screened-in porch is one such project. That can make a usable outdoor space from one you haven't found relaxing for years. Or maybe you want a new deck or patio out back? You could even think about upgrading your home’s appearance with fancy landscaping, new siding or a higher-end new roof.
It’s your home. You’ve always had the literal freedom to do with it what you want. But being a parent means you put your child’s needs ahead of your own desires. Now that the kids are starting new chapters in their own lives, there’s nothing selfish about enjoying yours. (Read: Renovating to Stay in Your Current Home)