The Empty Nest Makeover: A Guide to Redecorating After Kids Leave for College

As your kids prepare for the exciting journey of leaving home for college, you’re faced with a bittersweet transition that opens the door to a new chapter in your life – becoming an empty nester. This significant milestone isn’t just about the emotional adjustments but also presents a unique opportunity to rethink and redesign your living space. Specifically, the transformation of your child’s bedroom or the spare room that’s been waiting for a new purpose. It’s the perfect moment to consider remodeling after kids go to college, turning these spaces into something that reflects your current lifestyle and preferences.

remodeling after kids leave for college
[Father Helping Teenage Son Pack For College]
In this guide, we’ll walk through the thoughtful process of preparing the room for its makeover, involving your college-bound child in the transition, and selecting a new role for the space—be it a guest room, a home office, or a personal retreat. We’ll delve into how to personalize the updated area to make it genuinely yours, focusing on aspects like choosing the right windows to enhance both the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the room. By the conclusion, you’ll have a clear roadmap on how to navigate the transformation of the childhood bedroom or college kid’s room into a space that resonates with your new phase of life as an empty nester, making the most out of this pivotal moment of change.

Preparing the Room

Decluttering Essential Steps

  1. Start with a Blank Canvas: Remove all items from the room to visualize the space you have to work with. This step is crucial for making informed decisions about what to keep, donate, or discard.
  2. Categorize Belongings: Organize items into categories such as toys, books, and clothes. This makes it easier to assess what you have and decide what to do with each category.
  3. Evaluate Each Item: For each item, ask if it is necessary, still in use, or holds special value. If it doesn’t meet any of these criteria, consider removing it from the room.
  4. Set a Deadline for Removal: If items are to be kept by your college-bound child, set a clear deadline for them to sort and remove their belongings. Offering to sell items and share the proceeds can also motivate them to declutter.

Deep Cleaning Techniques

  1. Begin with Deep Cleaning: Before rearranging or introducing new furniture, deep clean the room. Focus on walls, floors, and any stubborn spots to ensure a fresh start.
  2. Use the Right Cleaning Tools: Employ tools like magic erasers for tough spots, microfiber cloths for dusting, and a wall cleaner brush for high areas. Consider using eco-friendly cleaning solutions for a healthier environment.
  3. Declutter Before Cleaning: It makes sense to declutter before deep cleaning to avoid cleaning items that will be removed. This approach also prevents dirt and dust from resettling on newly cleaned areas.

Deciding What Furniture Stays

  1. Assess Furniture Needs: Determine what furniture can serve a new purpose. For instance, a desk might be useful if the room will become a home office or study area.
  2. Consider Space and Functionality: Evaluate the size of the room and the functionality of existing furniture. A bed may be replaced with a sofa bed or daybed to accommodate guests while saving space.
  3. Hybrid Approach: Adopt a flexible strategy where some furniture remains for when your child visits, but the room’s overall function is adapted to your current needs. This could involve using part of the closet for storage while leaving space for your child’s items.

Consider Replacing Worn-Out Windows

The next step in this journey is to replace the old, worn-out windows with fresh, new ones that will breathe new life into the room. The windows in our home have seen it all – from the pitter-patter of little feet running through the hallways to the occasional baseball that found its way through the glass. They have faithfully stood their ground, shielding us from the elements and providing glimpses into the world outside. But now, as we embark on this new adventure, it’s time to bid them farewell and welcome a replacement window that will not only bring energy efficiency but also a touch of modern elegance to the room.

Choosing the perfect replacement windows for this space is not just about functionality; it’s also an opportunity for self-expression. From sleek, contemporary designs to timeless classics, there are endless possibilities to explore. Whether you opt for casement windows that swing open to welcome a gentle breeze or double-hung windows that offer versatility and easy maintenance, the decision is yours to make. Let the windows become a reflection of your personality and style, breathing life into the spare room and infusing it with a renewed sense of purpose.

Involving Your College-Bound Child

Involving your college-bound child in the process of redecorating their room is essential. It not only respects their feelings and memories associated with the space but also helps them learn valuable life skills such as decision-making and letting go. Here’s how you can do it effectively:

Discussing Changes Together

  1. Initiate an Open Conversation: Start by discussing the changes you are considering for their room. Explain your vision while being open to their ideas and feelings.
  2. Set Clear Expectations: Make sure they understand the practical reasons behind the makeover, such as the need for a guest room or a home office.
  3. Respect Their Input: Allow them to express their preferences and concerns. Their input is valuable in creating a space that reflects both their legacy and your current needs.

Selecting Items to Keep or Donate

  1. Create Like-with-Like Piles: Sort their belongings into categories (e.g., clothes, books, toys) to see what they have and decide what stays and what goes.
  2. Decision Sort: Go through each category together and decide which items to keep, donate, or discard. Encourage them to be generous with donations, explaining that simplifying their possessions can be liberating.
  3. Set Limits: To help them decide, use the criteria of necessity, usage, and special value. This process reduces the amount of stuff to a manageable level, making future tidying more feasible.

Memorabilia Storage Solutions

  1. Limit What to Keep: Encourage your child to keep only the most meaningful items. This might include awards, significant projects, or special event memorabilia.
  2. Creative Storage Ideas: For the items they decide to keep, consider creative storage solutions like a bound book for written work or a dedicated memorabilia box.
  3. Take Ownership: Encourage them to take responsibility for their memorabilia, whether that means integrating it into their new living space or keeping it neatly stored at home.

By involving your college-bound child in this process, you not only make the transition smoother for both of you but also give them a sense of control and respect for their childhood memories. This collaborative effort ensures the space evolves to meet your needs while honoring their past.

Choosing a New Purpose for the Room

When your kids leave for college, their rooms present a blank canvas for new possibilities. Whether it’s an office, library, craft room, home gym, or guest room, transforming these spaces can add value and functionality to your home. Here’s how to reimagine these rooms to suit your current lifestyle.

Office, Library, or Craft Room Ideas

  1. Maximize Space with Multi-Functional Furniture: Consider a desk that doubles as a crafting table or a bookshelf with a fold-down workspace. This approach allows the room to serve multiple purposes without clutter.
  2. Incorporate Ample Storage: Use creative storage solutions like decorative shelving and modular storage units to keep supplies organized and out of sight. This is particularly useful for craft materials and books.
  3. Personalize with Decor: Maintain elements of your child’s personality while introducing your own style. Use their favorite colors as accents or display some of their cherished items in a new way.

Creating a Home Gym

  1. Select the Right Equipment: Focus on equipment that matches your fitness goals. Adjustable dumbbells, a yoga mat, and resistance bands are versatile and space-saving options.
  2. Flooring Matters: Invest in durable, cushioned flooring like rubber mats to protect your floors and provide a comfortable workout surface.
  3. Mirrors and Lighting: Install mirrors to check your form during exercises and ensure the room is well-lit, creating an inviting workout space.

Transitioning to a Guest Room

  1. Invest in a Daybed: A daybed is ideal for small spaces, offering a place for guests to sleep that can double as a sofa or workspace when not in use.
  2. Smart Storage Solutions: Look for beds with built-in storage or use under-bed storage boxes to keep your guest’s luggage or your child’s belongings neatly tucked away.
  3. Keep Decor Universal: Choose a color scheme and decorations that are welcoming but not too specific to any age or style, allowing the room to appeal to a wide range of guests.
  4. Essentials for Comfort: Ensure the room has all the essentials for a comfortable stay, such as fresh bedding, towels, and a nightstand equipped with a lamp and outlets for charging devices.

By carefully considering the new purpose for your child’s room, you can create a space that not only serves your needs but also keeps a connection to your college-bound child’s past, making the transition easier for both of you.

Personalizing the Updated Space

Personalizing the updated space after your kids leave for college involves thoughtful consideration of color schemes, furniture, decor, and maintaining a welcoming environment for when they return. This section delves into how you can achieve a space that reflects your current lifestyle while keeping a warm and inviting atmosphere for your college kids.

Selecting a Color Scheme

  1. Identify the Room’s Purpose: Before choosing colors, decide on the room’s new function. A den might require cozy, darker tones, whereas a guest room could benefit from vibrant, welcoming colors.
  2. Consult Color Specialists: If uncertain, seeking advice from color experts can help match your vision with the perfect palette.
  3. Consider Mood and Atmosphere: Colors significantly impact the room’s feel. Opt for shades that enhance the desired mood, whether it’s calm and relaxing or energetic and stimulating.

Furniture and Decor Recommendations

  1. Furniture That Serves Multiple Purposes: Select pieces that are not only functional but also enhance the room’s aesthetics. For example, a desk that doubles as a crafting table for a home office or craft room.
  2. Incorporate Personal and Family Memorabilia: Displaying family photos, children’s art, and keepsakes adds a personal touch and maintains a connection to family memories.
  3. Add Natural Elements: Introducing plants, flowers, or nature-inspired decor can breathe life into the space, promoting a sense of calm and creativity.

Maintaining a Welcome Environment for Returns

  1. Keep Some Elements Familiar: Retain a few items or aspects of the room’s previous decor to make returning children feel at home.
  2. Flexible Space Utilization: Design the space so it can easily transition to accommodate your child’s needs when they visit, such as adding a portable bed or keeping some storage space available for their use.
  3. Open Communication: Discuss the changes with your child, ensuring they feel their input is valued and that the space remains a welcoming part of the home for them.

By following these guidelines, you can create a personalized space that serves your needs and preferences while still being a welcoming and familiar place for your college-bound child.


Through the journey of redecorating after your kids leave for college, we’ve explored how to thoughtfully prepare the room for its new purpose, involve your college-bound child in the transition, and select a new role for the space that aligns with your current lifestyle. This guide has provided you with practical steps and creative ideas to transform a child’s bedroom into a space that resonates with your new phase of life as an empty nester. Personalizing the updated area by selecting the right color schemes, furniture, and decor helps in creating a space that reflects your personal style while maintaining a connection to family memories.

Embracing this new chapter allows for a seamless transition into the empty nest phase, offering an opportunity to rediscover your home and redefine spaces to suit your evolving needs. As you embark on this journey of transformation, remember that the process is not just about redesign but also about reconnecting with your own interests and passions. If you’re ready to take the next step in revitalizing your home and are looking for replacement windows, siding, doors or roofing, get a free quote today to begin your empty nest makeover. By doing so, you ensure that every corner of your home continues to tell a story of growth, change, and new beginnings, welcoming the future while cherishing the past.

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