Reclaiming a child’s room after they've moved out

So, you’ve survived the terrible twos, the tooth fairy and the teenage tantrums and, now, it’s finally time for your chick to fly the nest.

Helping your son or daughter pack up and go away to university can be an emotional time - no more midnight calls for a lift or dirty laundry strewn throughout the house and an end to finding empty milk cartons in the fridge.  Of course you’ll miss him or her and, the house will seem strange and empty at first - which is the ideal time for a project!

Although your child will, of course, be home for holidays, you’ll no doubt now find yourself with a teenager’s room which will be largely unused for several months during the year.  Most people don’t have the luxury of countless spare rooms and, chances are that this will be your first opportunity to add a re-imagined room to your home.  Naturally, your child will still need somewhere to sleep during visits - after clearing out the room, replace the bed with a sofa bed (believe us, he or she will, at times, sleep on far less comfortable things during the uni years).  Now, you’re ready to think about the room’s new identity.  We’ve put together some of our favourite ideas for repurposing a teen’s room.

The Office

Whether you occasionally work from home or, would just like a space for paying bills, storing important documents or, even writing that novel you’ve always fancied trying, now’s the time to create your own home office.  As a work space, it’s best to keep the room as uncluttered as possible.  There’s a good chance that your child had a desk in the room for projects and course-work and, this can be updated to your own purposes.  Add a few practical but stylish cabinets and shelves for storing files and documents and, you will, of course, have that sofa bed handy for resting inbetween projects.

The Wardrobe

If, like us, you’ve always fancied having a Hollywood style walk in wardrobe, now’s the time - and it needn’t cost a fortune.  Once the room has been cleared out, look at installing inexpensive wall units containing cubby holes and larger spaces for hanging clothes (you can always have a go at making your own if you have a flair for DIY).  Hanging rails can be bought cheaply from home and hardware stores and are easily fitted to the top of cabinet spaces.  When planning your walk in wardrobe, make sure that, if there’s a window in the room, clothing won’t be directly in the path of sunlight as this can fade fabrics.  Make sure that there is a ‘ledge’ on top of hanging clothes to prevent the build up of dust.  Add a few standalone shoe racks (or fabric ones which can be hooked over the top of a door) and, invest in a full length mirror.  If you have the room, you can even go all theatrical and add a dressing table with movie star style lights around the mirror.

The Craft Room

Whether you’re crazy for crocheting or mad about music, it’s great to have a room to devote to your passion.  Have a think about what you’ll need in terms of storage and plan the room accordingly - if budgets are tight, try looking online for second hand storage solutions or, even try making your own.  Add a few shelves on which to display your favourite pieces and, if necessary, repurpose your child’s desk.  You already have the sofa bed in the room but, if you need a different seating arrangement for your hobby, check out charity shops and home and office clearance sites.

The Guest Room

A bit of an obvious one but, if you’ve spent years having guests spend the night on the sofa, you can finally invite them to stay in the guest room (or guest suite, if you’re feeling posh).  Once you’ve removed all things teenage from the room, update the decor and bedding to a more neutral theme (if you’re not able to paint or redecorate due to rental restrictions, try wall sized posters in tasteful themes).  Repaint a teen’s desk and chair to create a dressing table and add a tray filled with thoughtful items such as toiletries, tissues and a water jug.  Keep aside a drawer or cubby hole for clean towels and flannels for your guest’s use.

Having a whole room to play with is a luxury for most of us and, with a little thought and planning, you can create a great space for yourself at the same time as making sure that your university student has somewhere to sleep and relax when he or she comes home for the holidays.

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