From Nursery to Empty Nest: Creating Great Rooms at Every Stage
Life comes at you fast. While it may not be on your radar right now, the nursery you painstakingly planned will soon become a big kid room, a teen hideout, and, someday, a space of your choosing when the nest’s empty. Take a look at our tips and tricks for navigating these big life changes and making the most of your room at any stage of life.
Baby to Big Kid
1. Ensure the timing is right. Each child is different, and they’ll be ready to move at different times as well. In most cases, it’s best to let your child lead the process, letting them tell you when they’re ready for an upgrade. One very big exception to this rule is outgrowing the crib/toddler bed. If the furniture is no longer safe or comfortable, ready or not, it’s time to change it out
2. Encourage independence, but lead with safety. Now that your child is mobile, it’s important to remove hazards and keep things well within reach to avoid climbing or other potentially harmful behaviors.
- Reserve the top dresser drawers for out-of-season clothes or other rarely used items, and show your toddler where to find their everyday items.
- Utilize removable hooks so they can grow with your child.
- Store books and toys in low, wide furniture for little hands to easily access.
3. Create spaces that will age gracefully. Gone are the days of diaper changes on the changing table and nursing or bottles in a glider. As you replace or rework furniture, think about what will take your toddler into their next stage of life — consider a full mattress rather than a twin, a reading nook with room for a growing literary collection, and art that holds their interest (or is easily updated).
Big Kid to Teen
1. Work together. The teenage years can be a trying time for all involved; create an opportunity for bonding by pulling your child into the planning process. Create a mood board, or hit the store together for inspiration. If you’re worried about the design going off the rails, give your teen choices between art, furniture, or decor items you’ve already vetted and wouldn’t mind seeing for the next several years. Done well, your room makeover will produce both a great space, and lasting happy memories of its creation.
2. Create organization and storage they can maintain. Parents are always working to prepare kids for adulthood, and now is as good a time as ever to start getting organized. Ideally, you invested in furniture that could transition well into the teen years when you moved from a baby to a big kid room, so this makeover is more about function and style. Some tips fromHGTV:
- Closet: Take the door off the closet to open the space and provide incentive to place items on hangers instead of throwing them on the closet floor.
- Shelving: Install wall-mounted adjustable shelves that will grow as the needs of your teenager change.
- Containers: Label all containers, not the shelf where items are stored. That way if containers move, the items are still put in the right one.
- Memos, etc.: Hang pegboards or memo boards to provide contained spaces for notes, photos and calendars. No more looking for that invitation or phone number — it's right there on the wall.
3. Encourage socialization and relaxation. As your child becomes a teen, they may feel less comfortable living their life in full view of the rest of the family. Use this room upgrade as an opportunity to create a private space that makes room for your teen to hang out comfortably, either alone or with friends. Depending on the size of the room and your teen’s needs, you may need to choose between this and a traditional desk. Whatever you decide, just don’t make it too comfortable in there — you want them to come out at some point!
Teen to Empty Nest
When your child heads off to college or their own first home, and you’ve spent the requisite amount of time feeling wistful, it’s time to turn their room into the space of your dreams! You could always go with a guest room or a home gym, but don’t underestimate the joy one of these out-of-the-box spaces might bring into your life.
1. Pursue your hobbies in a dedicated space. Are you a craft maven who’s been squatting on the dining room table for the last 18 years? A musician banished to the garage? Or maybe you’re a yogi who’s been taking your mat wherever the kids and dogs aren’t? Now’s your chance to change that. Get a jump on the project by having your teen help pack up and store items of importance that aren’t currently leaving with them. Follow up with a fresh coat of paint and swap out any furniture that no longer suits your needs.
2. Create a walk-in, or even sit-in closet. Surround yourself with a beautiful dressing space by removing everything from the room and adding custom cabinetry, soft lighting, and a seated vanity, depending on your needs. If your plumbing setup allows, you can also install a washer and dryer right in your closet, creating a luxurious-yet-functional space that will your life that much easier.
3. Dive into a great new book in a reading den. The words “home library” tend to evoke the mansion from the ‘80s board game Clue, but yours doesn’t have to be stuffy space filled with dark wood and leather (unless that’s your thing). Some multipurpose shelving, comfortable seating, and a good lighting scheme are all you need to remake the room and embark on literary adventures for years to come.
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