Convert kid's room into your own special space

By Laurie Arendt


Watching your children go off and leave home is hard for any parent. Whether your first or your last, seeing a child off to college, a career or his or her own place is a big step for both parents and children. Though the child may be gone from the home, a new opportunity awaits — what to do with that empty bedroom.

Kari Miller, owner of Just A Little Bit of Country in Pewaukee, uses her kid’s old bedroom for an office and a place to work on her hobby of rug hooking.

“This is a great time to give that room a whole new personality,” says Jalaine Reid, an interior designer at Swan Furniture and Interiors in Wauwatosa.

Reid has worked with several parents who have transformed a child’s former bedroom into a newly functional space. “People typically will use it as a guest bedroom, home office or hobby room,” she says.

One of her clients took this concept a step further and made a former child’s bedroom into a complete exercise room. “They mirrored one whole wall and hung a television in the corner, much like what you’d see in a hospital,” she says. “It’s something they’ve enjoyed so much that they’re now moving the exercise room into an even larger spare bedroom because they spend so much time working out each day.”

Kari Miller, owner of Just a Little Bit Country in Waukesha, has gone through the process herself. She says that the first thing parents should do is realize that children will take what they want from the room. “Those items should move out with your adult child,” she says. “You can also make a nice memory chest for each child and include select items from their room. But after you’ve completed the process, it’s time to have some fun with that space.”

It’s not usually a change in style, rather a change in function for the room. “It’s a great time for empty nesters because they’re able to expand before they downsize into a smaller house, condo or apartment,” she says. “If you’ve really wanted a home office or a place to display a collection of antiques — instead of scattering them all over the house — a spare bedroom works very well..”

The top use for a former bedroom is as a guest room and Reid will often make specific suggestions to her clients who are interested in this option. “I always recommend twin beds and even futons to stash away in a guest room,” she says.

Miller does caution parents to wait at least a year before making changes. “Even though adult children do leave the nest, some do fly back,” she says. “They’re in the process of getting on their feet and sometimes that may mean moving back in for a while before permanently moving out.”