Have the kids moved out? Quick! Convert their rooms before they come back!
Becoming an empty nester for the first time can be a tough transition, but with a few simple ideas, you can turn this time into a new beginning for you and your home.
Versatility is Everything
When your offspring leaves for the first time, it’s important to remember that, chances are, they’ll be back, if only for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and reading week. Even if they’re gone for the longterm, you’ll likely want a space to house overnight guests, so versatility is key.
Converting A Bedroom Into A Den
Bedrooms should always be reserved for sleeping, so having your own den where you can put a sofa bed (remember: dual use) and a comfortable chair feels like luxury itself.
Start with a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Our advice is to go neutral because we want this den to be adaptable.
Next, take those activities that can interfere with a good night’s sleep, think: laptops, TVs, and smartphones, and move to them out of your bedroom and into your new den.
The goal is to create a comfortable space – a refuge – where you can indulge in a Netflix binge, catch up on Facebook or simply curl up with a book.
Now consider furniture. Oftentimes, less is more.
One of our favorite pieces this year is the elegant Kensington daybed. This bed also comes in a traditional bed version, but we want it to double as a comfortable lounger so the daybed is a better option for a den.
Imagine this piece, up against a wall lined with stacked white bookshelves and with lots of oversized pillows.
Add in a coffee table if you have the space, a single side table if you don’t, a piece of artwork, et voila: Welcome to your own personal heaven that turns into an elegant bedroom when the offspring returns for a quick visit.
Convert A Room Into A Library
Who has not dreamed of owning a gorgeous library in their home? It’s such an elegant statement that recalls images of Jackie’s O’s fabulous Manhattan apartment where books dominated the décor.
Imagine: Floor to ceiling built in bookshelves, leather wing back chairs, brass reading lamps and even a small ladder on a runner, to reach those high shelves.
This look is easier than you think. A library requires minimal furniture as the big investment is the bookshelves and the books.
Below you can see the Ryder chairs against a soft décor. For this look, simply add white wooden bookshelves, a minimalist white or glass table and pretty lighting fixtures – go clean and contemporary.
A rule of thumb for libraries: Keep your décor neutral and look to the books to add the color. This will keep the space balanced.
If you’re working in a small space, go with lighter pieces like the Gia faux fur bench with its gorgeous acrylic legs…
Converting A Child’s Room Into A Guest Room
Even if you want to keep your child’s bedroom as a bedroom, let’s be real: The Spiderman wallpaper that you never bothered to pull off or the pink and purple polka dots that your daughter loved in grade six aren’t up to the mark.
It makes good sense to freshen the room up with a coat of paint and apply a more mature design that both your offspring and overnight guests will enjoy.
Again, when it comes to versatility, neutrality is key.
First look to a beautiful bed frame and headboard and go from there. For example, the Casa bed (shown below) can be styled to look more masculine or feminine simply by adding a few extra pillows here and there.
Add an elegant side table, a mirror and window dressings and you’ve got a functional guest room that still feels like home when your special young (ish) one visits.
The Biggest Mistakes Empty Nestors Make
Unfortunately, the most common mistake is failing to think about how you will use your newfound space and simply letting things “evolve.”
It’s good to remember the homeowner’s law of physics: Unused rooms attract discarded objects and storage.
These two common options, below, are actually big mistakes because they compound the discarded objects issue. Avoid at all costs!
-A craft or sewing room — This creates the kind of mess that grows in scope without your realizing it, until it’s too late
-More stuff, more sequins, more glitter and more… just more. Eventually, the sofa bed is lost under a mountain of fabric -or whatever it is you are crafting- and the space loses its dual purpose status.
-A junk room — What to do with those things you don’t need but hesitate to throw away? Our advice? Have a garage sale, give them to the Salvation Army, put them on Freecyle. But whatever you do: Do not put them in your spare room!
The last thing you need is an overnight guest tripping head first into your old bowflex.
A final piece of advice: If you’re not sure what to do that room, consider this: If the First Lady was sleeping over, would she be comfortable in that room? No? Get to work!
Did you change your kid’s room when they left home or did you leave it untouched? Share your thoughts with us! We’d love to hear them!