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By Carol Dundas

Having kids run around the house is fun and makes the house lively. Kids liven up the house and you never want to imagine the day they will be grown enough to move out and live on their own. That dreaded day however, finally comes and they go to college, get married and you are left with an empty nest. The house is yours again, so now you can seize the occasion to reclaim your empty nest and make it all your own!

Once your children have moved out, living in an empty nest is almost like having your first home all over again, except that it’s bigger than that cramped newlywed apartment. It’s just the two of you again, grown up people who don’t write on the walls or try to jump off the sofa, who don’t leave piles of toys and dirty laundry and backpacks strewn about the house. What does that leave you with? Space. We’re talking about space.

A sewing room can be in your future, or a place to spread out those craft projects. Need a home office? It’s yours for the asking, with a bit of rearranging. Once the kids are out of the house and, hopefully, have taken most of their stuff with them, it’s time to take back the space and do more with their rooms.

First, clean it up and pack it away. If your child has her own place, chances are the stuff left in the closet is no longer that important to her. But on the off chance it’s the treasure of her youth, pack it away. Plastic containers are cheap, and they can stack easily or slide under the bed.


Nothing freshens a room like paint color. If your kid exercised a bit of creative freedom and loved her green and purple room, save your eyesight and change the color. Utilize a bit of spackle to fill in the holes from all those Hannah Montana and High School Musical posters that have since fallen to shreds. Choose a color you enjoy and go for it.

Decide how to use the space. Is this room perfect for crafts? Use the empty dresser as storage for supplies. Make a work table out of sawhorses and an interior door with a flat surface. Move in your supplies and add some bright lighting. You spread out and craft to your heart’s content. The real plus is that you can now use your dining room table for dining.

For a home office, push the bed into a corner and rearrange pillows to make it look like a day bed. Exchange dresser space for file cabinets. Install a desk and chair, change pictures to reflect your taste and not that of your now launched child and install a phone line. It’s an office but, can double in a pinch as a guest room. In the meantime, you can telecommute or work on that memoir you’ve been meaning to write.

Let your imagination (and your budget) guide the transformations. Yoga rooms are inexpensive; a calming paint color, a good mat and a soothing playlist and you’re done. For more money, invest in a set of weights and stop using the treadmill as a coat hanger. Install it in the newly renovated room, add a TV and save the cost of a gym membership. You’ll exercise more often when the gym is just down the hall.

Worried that your kids will be upset that their childhood rooms have a new purpose? Make sure they know there’s always a bed for them in their family home. Retain a few mementos of their childhood in the repurposed space, whether it’s prom photos or a cheerleading pom-pom. And remember, if they’re away at college, chances are they might need to come home and live rent-free after graduation—so don’t get too attached to that empty nest!