All parents react differently when the day finally comes to send their child off to college. Some are depressed and surprised by how quiet and empty the house feels without the obvious presence of a hormonal teenager. Others can’t break out the champagne fast enough to toast their re-discovered freedom.  I’m still not sure which category I fall into… but there will be tears no matter.

Regardless of how you feel about your children heading off to college, there’s no doubt your life is going to change, especially around the house. With one less person living in the house permanently, the things you need from your home will be different.  For me that will mean a lot less activity in the laundry room and kitchen.  Namely the doors of my appliances opening as frequently on a daily basis!

But with all those college tours, graduation parties, endless summer days with the house strewn with teenage bodies and all the trimmings behind you, you probably have some “now I can take a deep breath” time on your hands.

With that being said, perhaps now is the perfect time to make some changes to your home to match and help you mang your new lifestyle.  Here are a few ideas for upgrading your empty nest.


Create a ‘half guest room’

Chances are your son or daughter will be coming home for random weekends, in additions to winter break and possibly the first few summers of college. Your returning freshman is going to need a place to stay during those times. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense to keep that bedroom totally empty whenever they’re not home and sleeping until noon.

One easy solution is to convert your son or daughter’s bedroom into a guest room.

Take down the raggedy old torn posters and replace them with classier prints., possibly in the same theme but slightly updated.  Empty out most of your kid’s dresser and desk so guests can use the space as well. Keep the current bed and switch out the bedding for a new set.

One word of caution: A childhood bedroom holds a lot of sentimental value for young adults, especially if they’re living on their own for the first time. A few things to consider before you start tearing apart your kid’s bedroom:

Wait a few months. Yes, it makes sense to get started on upgrades like this as soon as possible. But there’s always a chance your son or daughter won’t adjust well to college and need to move back home.

Keep a few mementos. If your son or daughter has a favorite stuffed animal, poster, bookshelf or other item, keep it prominently displayed for the first few years. A childhood valuable can go a long way in making a college student feel welcome when they return home.

Give them a say. Even the most disorganized high schoolers probably have some idea of where their valuables are and what they want to hang on to long-term. Get some input from your child before you start packing up their stuff. Plus, you might find things you never wanted to …

What if I already have a guest room?

Even if you already have a guest room in your home, it probably makes more sense to turn your son or daughter’s room into the new room for visitors to stay in. So what can you do with your “old” guest room? It could be your new exercise room, office, hobby room — the sky’s the limit!

Think about what you spend most of your time doing at home, and come up with ways to make that more enjoyable with the extra space you have.

Reclaiming family spaces

Now that your child is off to college, chances are the common areas of your home are getting a lot less use. Here are a few possible upgrades you can make to other parts of your house:

The basement. If there’s any chance your college student might return to the next after four (or five) years, you might consider transitioning your basement into a semi-private apartment. Airbnb has never been more popular than now.  If that’s out of the question, reclaim the basement and turn it into whatever will increase enjoyment of your home most.

Kitchen. Without having to rush to get dinner on the table in between sports practices or other activities, many empty nesters spend a lot more time cooking. Consider sacrificing some gathering area in favor of counter space for more elaborate meal preparations.

Garage. Bikes, sports equipment and other stuff your child used on a regular basis probably aren’t getting as much use now that he or she is away at school. Move these things into storage or donate to charity to make room for tools, gardening equipment or other things you will use more often.

Whatever upgrades you chose to go for, it’s important to recognize your home life is going to be different, and you can make changes that will improve your day to day life. Until it’s time to get your next child ready to head off to school, that is.


If you need help contact me today!