Empty Nesters – How to re-design your spare room and keep everyone happy

The four walls that surround you have changed a lot over the last 18 years or so.  Pastel safari animals, Thomas the Tank Engine and more recently a selection of sporting flags and posters have all had their time and place in this room.  The feeling of your child leaving for a new life at university or to their own new home can be a momentous one.  ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’, scoffed by some, can prove to be a challenging time of change. That now lonely, ownerless bedroom a symbol of good times passed and a future not yet known.

Re-designing and perhaps even repurposing the room can help ensure that the changes occurring are positive.  Here are some tips for what to consider when designing an empty nest room:

  1. Are they coming home?
    If your child has left to study but will be returning home for the holidays or to live after their course has ended, then ensure you talk ideas through with them.  Whilst you don’t want to keep a museum of their teddies for their odd self-indulgent trip down memory lane once a year at Christmas, you also don’t want to make them feel ousted. If they do want to keep the room as their base, sensitively approach the re-design as a cooperative.  How to work the design around your returning adult-child:
  • Discuss your ideas and keep your son/daughter informed. Ensure to keep referring to the space as ‘your room’; ‘your old room’ might just be too soon and rejection could set in.
  • Agree on a colour scheme.
  • Include ample storage for clothes and items not needed at university to be stored within.


1. What do you want to use the space for?

Could this be the dream room in which to pursue your hobbies that your heart has always desired.  Potter’s wheel, music studio or sewing room?  Start by deciding if this is indeed the best use for your space.  Consider the natural light, ease of access, space and even things such how many plugs the room as.  All of these factors might make you realise this sudden empty bedroom is not the best room for your personal adventure.

2. Measure

Some time may have passed since you last decorated or re-styled the room so go back to drawing board.  Take a note of all the dimensions and sketch out ideas.

3. Dual purpose

Putting the space to work by making it dual purpose would be a solution that will keep everyone happy. Using multi-functional furniture such as the Girevole Wall bed from John Strand will allow you to have a comfortable slatted base bed with comfortable mattress without sacrificing the bedroom’s floor space.

4. A studio apartment

If your room is big enough, then transforming the space in to a self-contained studio apartment with a kitchenette and en-suite bathroom could open up the possibility to offering adult children an independent space within which to live as they launch their career. Check with your local planning office for guidance and advice.

B-ESK Double Free standing wall bed with desk