Read useful tips, tricks and information on reclaiming your home as a space of your own once the kids have flown the nest.
When the kids have grown up and gone to university and moved out with friends or partners, it can be very easy to leave our homes exactly the same as they were when the whole family was together. Their bedrooms especially can become like shrines to them, frozen in time, with everything as it was with no real use being made of the space.
When they do keep popping back and forth, of course, it makes sense to keep their space as theirs. But when they have definitely moved out for good, it is time to look at the space as an opportunity for a brand new room to redecorate and repurpose.
The rest of the house may also require a bit of a spruce up. Thus changing from a family home to a grownup sanctuary for you and your partner. It can be so very hard to let go of the way things are, for fear you’re somehow letting go of those memories.
However, you owe it to yourself to make the most of the home you’ve worked hard for. The home your children will still be visiting regularly. And the home that will continue to hold all those memories, along with all your videos, photos and other sentimental things you have kept.
The fact of the matter is, your memories are going nowhere and making your home beautiful in a new way will eventually enhance the life you have now. Your new life with grown-up children and a complete home to call your own.
Take a look at our guide below with plenty of tips, tricks and inspiration to help you get started. You have a long and exciting journey ahead. And by the end of this guide we promise you’ll be reaching for a paintbrush, or at the very least starting a beautiful Pinterest folder:
OK so naturally before you can do anything, you’re going to need to let go. In the first instance, letting go emotionally is your priority. This doesn’t mean that you’re letting go of your kids or your memories. But it can be hard to let that phase of your life go. Often as mothers, we feel a bit lost when the nest has emptied. And we feel lost without anything to nurture. That is empty nest syndrome and most people eventually manage to move past it by filling their time with hobbies and perhaps new pets to direct that love onto. We can’t tell you how to fill that void. But please trust us when we say that it is so normal and everybody goes through it. As mothers we never really want our kids to leave!
You may find, that beginning to empty and clear out your child’s old things and boxing them up for the garage or shed until they can collect them, is therapeutic. A bit like a closure process that allows you to take the time to enjoy your memories. But also put them away.
If you do find that you have items that you want to keep, like old teddies or even old clothes that remind you of your child, there are services you can use to turn them into blankets or new items for you to keep and enjoy. That way they won’t be stuffed in a box and squashed in a wardrobe till the end of time, never to be seen again.
You may want to then approach the rest of your home in the same way. Treat it like a totally new and neutral space. Remove any clutter you don’t want and sell it, give it away or bin it. The more neutral the space is, the more you can see its potential and start to think about new colour schemes, designs, furniture and purpose.
This process is difficult and unenviable. But it will help you to realise that your empty nest is actually one full of lovely memories and potential for brand new purpose.
OK so now you have a home that is ready for repurpose, redecoration and maybe even renovation. So what now? What a huge task this feels like!
Don’t worry, nobody is telling you that you need to get everything done now. The point is, that now you can start to make the changes when you want to because your home is ready for them. In these initial stages it is a really good idea to get inspired and do lots and lots of research. This is not the family home you moved into to raise children. This is an adult sanctuary for you and your partner. Looking at it that way changes everything. No need to think about multipurpose spaces the kids can use, or child safety (unless there are grandchildren already!), or colour schemes the kids won’t be embarrassed of. This is your space now, time to let loose and to really be, well: selfish!
We tend to hold back on the colours and patterns we truly love when we have children. This is because a) we might think practically, i.e. this space needs to be timeless because we don’t have time to redecorate it again! And b) because the kids might be embarrassed or roll their eyes at your true redecorating expression. You have a whole family to think about when you decorate. Now, you don’t need to give two hoots what they think. They don’t live in your home, you do. Is now the time you finally go wild with your colours and patterns?
Could this be the era of leopard print bedding? Zebra print carpets? Mustard kitchen wall tiles? Ok, perhaps that is a little wild for your taste. But the fact of the matter is now you can choose. Do speak to your partner about it, and do perhaps work together on the colours and patterns you both like. Or at least designate ‘neutral zones’ for you to both design. But do both let loose a little and let your colour schemes be expressive and fun.
The purpose of each space can change now because you only have you and your partner to consider. No need to have a kitchen table to seat a small army (unless of course you like to entertain) anymore. Or a desk in the living room for your eldest to do his homework. Of course there is also the garage which held all your youngest’s bikes. And the mini gym he had when he went through the ‘protein’ phase. Then there is your daughter’s bedroom which is huge and a space you always loved for the light and the views from the bay window. All of those space now have the opportunity for new purpose. So how do you decide what to do with each space? Consider the following when thinking about how to repurpose the space in your home:
Asking yourself these questions will help you understand more your wants, needs and limitations. Somewhere amongst those things you will see there is a likely ‘best use’ of the space to consider. If you can, try to balance indulgence and practicality so that you have been selfish, but you have also been sensible. That way you’re unlikely to feel a sense of regret when the work is done. And you’ll avoid needing to redecorate or repurpose the room too soon. Because you’ve got this next chapter of life to be enjoying!
Now you can afford to be a little more selfish and indulgent with your home, there are lots of grownup space ideas you can consider such as a:
You may have always wanted a certain kind of room or a certain type of space. Now you can have it without any guilt that you’ve been selfish with your design!
Now you’ve thought through ideas and built up a good base plan for each space, you can put the plans in place to get the work done. Your budget and time is going to be the decider for when the work gets done. If you have a complete budget for everything then you may still want to stagger the work as not to disrupt the entire home. Alternatively if you have an endless budget, you could hire professionals to do the work (including an interior designer) and jet off on holiday for a month for an amazing kick start to retirement!
You will want to plan the work around your lifestyle, and also your skills. Can you and your partner place wall tiles? Are you handy enough to paint and decorate? Would you rather somebody else did the job for you? Do you actively want to do the work yourself for the satisfaction?
Think about these things before you plan the work as adding porcelain tiles to a bathroom yourself along with painting and other work could take just a day or two if a professional does it. But perhaps a couple of weeks if you do the work. The difference could be hundreds of pounds. But you might not mind paying more for quicker completion. You may also be OK with it taking more time because you want to enjoy the process of doing it yourself. Only you can decide which the right option is.
If you do decide to do the work yourself:
If you do decide to hire somebody to do the work:
The process of letting go of the past chapter of your life can be very difficult. However, once you have recognised that you’ve a whole new incredible chapter ahead of you, it really is time to have fun. Your kids will always need you, love you and want you in their lives. However, they aren’t directly needing to rely on you alone like they have the last 18 years plus. So you can now start to focus on yourself again, and transform your home into the sanctuary you and your partner deserve. Enjoy the process, enjoy the planning and eventually you will be able to enjoy some fantastic results. Your home is very much your oyster.