When the kids finally move out of the
house, it can be a difficult time for moms and dads who must get used
to the sudden lack of activity. Emotions can run the gamut from the
blues to a newfound feeling of freedom. What some parents choose to do
with that freedom has created a market for home remodeling firms and
Although many parents are compelled to
leave their childís old bedroom as a shrine to that child, others
who donít want to be constantly reminded of their kidís absence
opt to change their environment. Look at it as a positive experience,
say some experts. You can finally decorate your home to match your own
lifestyle; you can have that home office or master suite youíve
"At least 60 to 70 percent of the
work we do is for clients whose kids have left home," says Ed
Miller of E. Miller and Associates in Mequon. What the homeowners
choose to do may depend upon their age, he explains. "Itís a
little bit driven by demographics. Many people have had children a
little later in life, so theyíre a bit older when the kids leave and
theyíre more apt to want to pamper themselves," he says.
That means many homeowners with empty
nests often want a new, larger master suite or new master bath with
all the bells and whistles. "We often incorporate one of the kidís
bedrooms that was adjacent to the parentsí room and put in a much
larger master suite, including a big bathroom with a walk-in shower.
In some cases, we might eliminate the tub and just have the larger
shower with multiple shower heads, especially if the house already has
two full baths," he says.
A second-story addition is another
option for people who want to add a private master suite away from the
other bedrooms, notes Jill Liptow, president of Remodeling Center Inc.
in Waukesha. "If a client has a three-bedroom ranch home, what we
have done in some cases is use the smallest bedroom and add a
staircase to a second floor master suite. We have added an entire
suite with bedroom, bathroom and a loft area or sitting room,"
she says. In some cases, she notes, they might add a complete
two-story addition, with the master suite upstairs and a family room
What was once a childís bedroom often
becomes a multipurpose room. "Once the kids move out, a lot of
people try to make a place to work on their hobbies or create a home
office that also serves as a guest room," says Kelly Briesch,
sales manager for Rubinís in Milwaukeeís Third Ward. "Parents
donít always want to completely erase all evidence that the child
was there, so they might keep some of the kidsí things in place, but
add some new items," she says.
Home office furniture can be just as
beautiful and multifunctional as the other furniture in your house,
Briesch says. "Someone might buy an armoire that can provide
storage for office equipment, but also can function to hold other
items. Bookcases can also do double duty, housing office materials or
crafts and also personal book collections," she says. "We
can help clients design a floor plan that will allow them to make
better use of the space they have."
While parents are happy to have their
offspring learn to take off on their own, they also want to be sure
the kids know they can come back ó for a visit. "Once the kids
move out, one of the things we often hear is that the homeowners want
to change things so when the kids do come home, itís a more
desirable place to be," Liptow says.
"When children come back to visit
with their own families, the parents want to have room for the
grandchildren. This is usually five to 10 years after the kids have
gone," Liptow explains. "We are getting more and more
requests to remodel the kitchen, opening it up to make it into a great
room. People usually are looking for a place for casual entertainment
where the entire family can gather," she says. "We might
create a snack bar area that separates the kitchen from the family
room area, with the kitchen work space behind it. We try to create a
cooking area or cooking triangle that includes the range, refrigerator
and sink out of the normal flow of traffic."
Home theater rooms or entertainment
rooms are also in demand, and not just in very large homes. "Some
couples want to create a space where they can enjoy spending time at
home. They are allowing themselves a few luxuries," Miller says.
Instead of adding on a room or
eliminating a bedroom, which could
lower the value of a home, many people opt to put these rooms in the
Another approach to remodeling the
empty nest is to plan ahead by building in new features that can be
more compatible with your lifestyle a few years down the road.
"They might create a master suite on the first floor, for
example, in an effort to accommodate their future needs," Miller