Empty Nesters: How to Reclaim Your Space

With the fall college semester right around the corner, many parents may soon become empty nesters. While children leaving the home can be bittersweet, it also presents an opportunity for parents to reclaim space in their home.

After the kids move out, updating the home with savvy improvements can help make life easier and more enjoyable, all while boosting resale value for those planning to downsize in the future. If your children have left the nest, consider these home projects:

1. Find Your “Me” Space
If you have a guest bedroom or your student won’t be coming home during breaks, turn their room into a space that works for you, like a home office, exercise room, music studio, craft room, workshop or home theater. Keep in mind your long-term plans. If you’ll be selling the home at some point, consider a room that will have broader appeal, like a home office.

If you plan to age in place, remember to incorporate features in your “me” space that will facilitate your use of the room even if you experience mobility issues down the road. For example, you may want to take the opportunity to widen doorways, replace doorknobs with door handles, replace loose carpet or slippery tiles with slip-resistant flooring, and improve ventilation.

2. Embrace Natural Lighting
Vision changes as you age, so the artificial lighting that worked for you when you were in your 30s or 40s may not be adequate when you enter your 50s and 60s. Lighting is an important upgrade if you plan to remain in your home into your golden years. Look for improvements that will help aging eyes see better, like increased natural lighting and task lighting in work areas.

3. Create a Bathroom Retreat
Bathrooms sell homes, and if you’ve lived with an outdated master bathroom now’s the time to modernize. In addition to all the luxurious features you’ve been dreaming of, like a rainfall shower head, heated floor, or towel warmer, keep in mind the practical improvements that will make the room safe and usable as you grow older.

Install grab bars in the shower and around tubs and toilets. Bath product designers are now making grab bars that offer the look of design elements coupled with the security of sturdy support, so they won’t stick out like a sore thumb in your new beautiful shower. If your bathroom is on the top floor, improve natural lighting with a skylight. Also look for slip-resistant flooring easy-to-maneuver levers to replace faucet knobs.