Empty Nest Ideas: What to Do With That Spare Room

What do we do with all this extra space? This can be a bittersweet question. When the kids go off to college, or find a good job and move out, it’s a complicated moment. On one hand, they’ll be missed. After all you’ve been through together, they’re finally going out on their own, leaving behind empty space physically and emotionally in your home.

On the other, it’s a joyful time. Your kids are off to do great things, hopefully remembering some of the lessons you taught them. And while they go off and enjoy their new freedom and opportunity, you’re also free to explore new opportunities, right down the hall. Whether it’s hosting far-flung family more often, dusting off that law degree for some pro bono advocacy work, or getting as toned as you were in your thirties in a new home gym, that newly spare room in your house provides the pathway to your latest journey. Here are some ideas of what you can do with your empty nest, and yourself, in your coming golden age.

Get Social With a New Guest Room

Things get busy, and people move away, and it can be tough to get together like you used to, especially when you have kids. Old friends and family in other towns and states may need to stay for a weekend if they’re going to come at all, and if that means sleeping on the couch or booking a hotel…well…maybe next year. Then again, if you have a guest room with a bed for two, maybe they could drive down from Buena Vista after all. Come to think of it, you might even be able to finally host Thanksgiving instead of making the drive somewhere else.

Converting your son or daughter’s old bedroom into a guest room can be relatively simple. As an added benefit, when they come home, they’ll have somewhere to stay. You’ll need a large enough bed for a couple, a dresser, and a nightstand or two. If your kids left behind useable furniture, change the sheets and you’re good. If they took their furniture with them, or the bed is too small, or the furniture is otherwise unusable, you’ll need to refurnish. Investing in a high-quality bed and furniture set gives guests a good reason to come visit, and keeps your kids happy when they’re home for the holidays.

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Lake House Platform Bed
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Brookside Bookcase
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Get Creative in Your New Craft Room

“Scraps and swatches everywhere, but not a spot to quilt!” – Samuel Quilteridge

Quilters, sewers, jewelers, beaders, leatherworkers, embroiderers, weavers, painters, model train or airplane enthusiasts, ham radio operators—one thing artists, crafters, and hobbyists have in common is the need for space. Having your own craft room finally gives you a place to spread out, look at what you’re doing, and tackle that project you’ve been thinking about for so long. Craft rooms need surface space in the form of tables, desks, or sideboards, and storage space in the form of shelves, bookcases, and hutches.

Get Studious in Your New Home Library

Peace, quiet, and a place to read. For many, a comfy, sunny nook of a room, adorned with bookcases, chairs or small sofas, end tables, and a few plants or art objects is a dream of tranquility. Having your own library allows you to pass the extra hours in your day with literary friends or interesting theories old and new.

Get To Work in Your New Home Office

Maybe it’s time to finally write that book. You know—that one. Or maybe you’re looking to pick up some volunteer work organizing or advocating, or just want some more space to sort out the bills. If you’re looking to work from home, your spare room can become your new home office. A good workspace needs a desk, and can benefit from a few extra seats, a sideboard or small table for surface space and storage, and a bookcase for reference materials. Ordering custom furniture allows you to size your office furniture to fit small or unconventionally shaped rooms.

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Durham Coffee Table
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Rosedale Table
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Get Physical in Your New Home Workout Studio

It can be a tough finding a place in your home with the space to stretch out during a full yoga routine, or that doesn’t feel a little claustrophobic during your crossfit. An empty room in your house is fitness waiting to be realized. To make space for a workout studio, clear the room of furniture except for limited storage, like a small sideboard. House your weights on racks or the floor, and your mats, jump-ropes, and medicine balls in the sideboard. If you like to watch exercise routines while working out, you can mount a tv on the wall, or place a tv, laptop, or tablet on the top of the sideboard.

Get Loud in Your New Practice Room

For musicians, practice rooms are as essential as a writer’s desk or an artist’s studio. Your son or daughter’s old bedroom makes an ideal storage space for your instrument or instruments. By removing the bed and furniture, you’ll create plenty of room for personal practice. Depending on the size of the room, you might be able to get the whole band together. Furniture should be minimal in a practice room, perhaps a bench or two or some chairs for seating, and a bookcase or small sideboard for storing music and instrument accessories. If you want to record, a desk gives you space for a laptop and mixer.

Get Furry in Your New Pet Room

Everyone knew this day was coming. Now that the kids are gone, the pets are in charge. In order to appease your dogs or cats, it’s probably best to give them your entire spare room, and to fill it with all their favorite things: squeaky balls and rope toys for the pups and tubes, ledges, and hanging strips of fabric for the cats. And don’t forget the treats. Perhaps a small nightstand full of catnip and mice. Okay, maybe fake mice. If you insist.

High-Quality Furniture Helps Transform Your Empty Nest

However you’re looking to fill the hole in your home, heart, and schedule now that the kids are away, your spare room can help you do it. Redecorating and refurnishing that extra bedroom can transform it and help you transition from full-time parent to full-time you. They say that we’re all still kids at heart. Well, that means the kid’s room can still be the kid’s room, the place where you reconnect with who you were before you were a parent, and grow into who you want to be now.

How to Get Started

At Unruh Furniture, we believe in the power of potential. We’re here to help you turn your spare room into the room you’ve always dreamed of, the same way we turned an old church into a custom furniture business. Schedule a visit to our Kansas City showroom today to see how we can help transform your home.

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Briar Desk
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Applegate Hutch
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Kaitlin is a Kansas City native with a passion for design and a love for people. She has an uncanny ability to know the best furniture solution for a unique space. And did we mention she loves animals too?

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