Here's What To Do When the Kids Finally Move Out

Dreamy wardrobe with shoe closet


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Dreamy wardrobe with shoe closet

Dream Design

So your youngest is gone and not coming back (fingers crossed ...)? Now is the time to transform a bedroom or bonus room or any other space that became the kids’ hangout into something you’ve long dreamed of. Read on for a sampling of what you can, finally, create — along with a “starter” suggestion for each theme — to meet your updated needs. Share ideas of your own in the comments.

Prices and availability are subject to change.

Related: Ways You’re Ruining Your Home and Don't Even Know It

Workplace of contemporary manager or freelancer with computer monitor on table

Home Office

The pandemic taught us the importance of having a designated space where you can work from home — or simply sit and pay the bills. If you've balanced a laptop on the corner of the dining room table or some similar makeshift effort, now’s the time to formalize the setup. Even the straightforward Brusali desk from Ikea ($80) would be an upgrade.

Related: How to Create a Home Office From Ikea Under $200

Abstract black oil painting in frame on empty beige wall of cozy bedroom

Guest Room

Don't point your out-of-town sister to the couch. Create a versatile guest room — as simple or elaborate as you want to make it. Consider a daybed as the focal point so the room can be used for more than just sleeping. Inexpensive options include the Manassas Twin Iron Daybed by Gracie Oaks, $180 on Wayfair.

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Color speaks when words cannot
Charday Penn/istockphoto

Art Studio

If you’ve always wanted to paint, sculpt, or otherwise dabble in the fine arts, why not foster creativity with inspiring surroundings? Go all in with the 145-piece Meeden Deluxe Artist Painting Set ($160 on Amazon), which includes a French easel, brushes, paints, pads, canvas, and more.

Home rehearsal room

Music Room

Were you a frustrated pianist or wannabe rocker? Resume your musical journey with a simple instrument and probably some lessons. You might want to investigate a “starter” guitar or a portable keyboard, such as the CT-S200 Casiotone ($139 from Sweetwater) where you can “400 unique tones, 77 rhythms, 10 reverb settings” with a dance music mode that adds 50 more rhythms and even built-in lessons. Rock on!

Private gym in the attic of modern house
I love this shape
Built in shelves in luxury master closet
PC Photography/istockphoto

Walk-In Closet

If you have drooled over the decadent walk-in closets showcased on reality TV shows or in celebrity at-home profiles, drool no more. You can have your own version of a walk-in closet/dressing room at long last. Opt for built-ins or portable racks, leave plenty of room for shoes (of course), and don’t forget the finishing touch: a full-length mirror such as the glam gold-accented Ogcau model ($180 on Amazon). It can be hung or leaned against the wall, its graceful arched shape adding an air of luxury to the day.

Related: Essentials You Need to Buy to Keep Your House Organized

Home Theater

Home Theater

Have a designated space for movie night with your own home theater. You can opt for “stadium-style” seating, an extra-comfy couch, or simply a selection of beanbag chairs tossed about the floor. Once the screen goes dark, dig into some freshly made popcorn from a Great Northern Popcorn Machine ($100 on Amazon) filling the air with classic movie-house scent.

Related: Ways to Get Creative With Your Popcorn

Kettle on wooden desk next to yellow pouf and flowers in japanese interior with moon poster. Real photo

Meditation Room

Breath deep ... your moments of peace have arrived. Turn a spare space into a meditation room where you can transport yourself to a world of serenity. Fill it with things you love and a color scheme that soothes. Cap it off with the gentle sounds of a waterfall such as the Resin Rock Fountain from Hi-Line Gift. ($80 from Wayfair).

Related: I Started Meditating, and This Is What Happened

rolled towel on massage table


Tired of doing your manicure at the kitchen table — or having your masseuse set up the table in the middle of the living room? Once you create an in-home spa, you can use the space to experience a bit of pampering and reconnect with that lost sense of tranquillity. Kick things off in style with a splurge such as the "A Day Off" Spa Gift Basket ($50 from Wine Country Gift Baskets), which features Cru de Provence lavender-vanilla scented spa products such as lotions, bath salts and soap — and even waffle slippers to keep the focus on slowing down.

Related: How to Practice Self-Care at Home

Game room in the upstairs attic type style room
PC Photography/istockphoto

Game Room

If downtime includes a bit of competition in your household, a designated game room might be an ideal use of newly found space. You can splurge for a centerpiece such as a pool table or pinball machine or opt for a little of everything with the Deluxe 15-in-1 Tabletop Board Game Set/Game Center ($45 from Amazon). Depending on the mood of the day — and the participants — this set is ready, offering everything from checkers to chess, backgammon to playing cards and more. 

Related: Fun Family Games to Keep You Entertained at Home

Extra room specifically used for arts and crafts
PC Photography/istockphoto

Craft Room

The pandemic brought hobbies back to life in a big way. Free time had to be filled. Distractions were welcome. Now, people find they still enjoy making jewelry, doing origami, creating collages, building model boats, and other pastimes. It’s a luxury to be able to step away mid-project and come back to the work at a later time — something a craft room allows. The Honey-Can-Do Rolling Storage Cart and Organizer ($89 from Amazon) can bring at least a little order to the proceedings. 

Related: Mobile Caddies and Other Storage Ideas For Your Home “Office”

Alcohol with glasses.

Bar / Lounge

No need for a designated driver when the bar’s in your own home. Create a place where you can sip a couple of glasses of wine at leisure, or a specialty cocktail with no pushing, no crowds, no rude patrons to spoil the experience. Design it to your own taste or choose a theme — tiki or speakeasy, art deco, glam, or classic dive. Not sure which way to go? In the meantime, store some libations on the Old Dutch International Westwood Gold Bar/Serving Cart ($199 from Home Depot).

Related: Spirits and Mixers Every Home Bar Should Have

Real photo of a colorful room interior with a desk, sewing machine and threads

Sewing Room

For those who have had to pull out the sewing machine and set it up every time they want to work, a sewing room can be a delight. You can stitch up clothes, as well as gifts from totes to quilts for those kids now settling into their new homes. Add that final touch to each project with a quick pass of the iron, a task made easy with the Homcom Drop Leaf Ironing Board with Shelves and Storage Boxes ($248 from Walmart).

Related: Reasons to Look Forward to an Empty Nest

Playing video game. Console controllers.

Man Cave

Sometimes a man just needs his space. And his TV. And his video games. Carve out some to his liking and make sure he knows it’s really his with a doormat that also (gently) pokes fun at what’s behind the closed door. The personalized welcome mat — with the slogan “Where Men Can Be Men” — is available for $26 from Personal Creations.

Related: 25 Coolest Products for the Perfect Man Cave

Modern sofa on light pink wall background with trendy home accessories, home decor interior, luxury living room. Stock photo
Lilas Gh/istockphoto

Lady Lair

A woman needs her space as well. Create a room to do whatever she wants — or nothing at all. Bring in a velvet chaise lounge, fill the room with scented candles ... anything with a feminine feel. Embrace calming pastels or go bold with a “beautiful face” wall sticker/decal ($11 on Amazon).

Climbing tree for cats in the apartment
Denise Hasse/istockphoto

Pet Retreat

If you hate having the scruffy old dog bed in the corner of the kitchen or always wanted to indulge your cat with something dramatic, consider turning the spare room into a pet retreat of sorts. You can use the space for storage of leashes, grooming products, and the like, as well as a place where they can get away from it all. Splurge on furry friends with the Orvis Memory Foam Couch Dog Bed (starting at $309 from Orvis and said to promote “superior joint and muscle health”) or the Go Pet Club 72-inch Cat Tree & Condo Scratching Post Tower, enlivened with leopard print ($160 on Walmart Marketplace).

Related: Stylish Pet Products You Won't Be Ashamed to Own

Book Shelves


Open a novel from a favorite author and escape into another world. Having a true home library can make that classic experience even more enjoyable. Create a room that’s academic or mod in feel, whatever you fancy. Buy a few lamps, some throws, and an easy chair or two — and you may never want to emerge from your literary salon. Start the process with eye-catching shelves such as the Kedryn Steel Conversion Bookcase by 17 Stories ($286 from Wayfair).

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

If you’re tired of climbing stairs with heavy laundry baskets (though those baskets may be less full these days) or you simply don’t like your laundry area, consider creating a true laundry room. This transformation could be a bit more elaborate but might prove worthwhile if it makes your life easier. Keep a sense of humor about it all with a “Loads of Fun” wooden laundry room sign ($23 from Amazon).

Related: Are You Making These Laundry Mistakes?

Green tile gives beauty and unique charm to this basement bathroom
PC Photography/istockphoto


The house may have fewer residents, but more visitors could be cause for an additional bathroom. You might even want to break through a wall to create an ensuite setup. This is another “not-just-cosmetic” transformation, so consider the end result before proceeding. If you do go ahead — and once the essentials are in place — decorate in a manner as playful or practical as you wish. A statement piece such as the Hansford Collection 3-Light Polished Nickel Clear Glass Coastal Bath Vanity Light by Progress Lighting ($134 from Home Depot) will shine a light on how you’ve changed things up.


Related: Ways to Save on a Bathroom Makeover