Children off to university? Here's how to revamp their unused bedrooms

Children off to university? Here’s how to revamp their unused bedrooms

  • If downsizing isn’t on the radar, rooms can be repurposed for other uses
  • This could be a home office, hobby room or even a walk-in wardrobe
  • Interiors experts explain how to make the most of your newfound space

When the youngest of our four children left home last year, our once-noisy house took on a different atmosphere. 

A stillness settled over the place due to the lack of human traffic (mostly beating a path from bedroom to fridge).

But if downsizing isn’t on the radar and you want to stay put after the chicks have flown, there are ways to make a house feel less empty: by revamping and repurposing rooms for new, more exciting, uses.

Yet still with scope for family and friends to come and stay.

‘Leaving parts untouched will make a house feel empty, as you’ll be reminded of the past,’ says Vicki Foster, interior stylist at ScS, who advises decluttering first.

Quiet corner: Transform your child’s old bedroom into a stylish and tranquil reading area

Hybrid home office

To make a hybrid workspace, Helen Stephens, creative director at Stephens + Stephens suggests siting a sofa bed near the necessary desk and chair. 

‘This keeps the bed out of sight when not needed, but still gives guests a place to sleep.’

A sofa with scatter cushions makes the room feel cosier. Interior designer Kate Blower, of architects BDN also suggests investing in a desk that doubles as a dressing table to save space.

Whether it’s painting masterpieces, or building model aircraft, an empty nest is an opportunity to turn a spare room into hobby workshop, says Rudolph Diesel, a London-based interior designer.

‘Add shelving or cabinets to bare walls for extra storage and display areas. 

‘As well as filling the space in a useful way, this also means you can leave any wardrobe or cupboards empty for when guests arrive.’

Consider using brighter, cooler-toned bulbs to light areas where you’ll work, such as your desk, he adds. 

‘Then use warmer, dimmable lighting to create a cosy bedroom atmosphere — look for bulbs that can be switched between both for the ultimate convenience.’

Walk-in wardrobe

Box rooms were always the short straw in our house as they often only have enough space for a bed and desk.

No wonder that they can end up as cluttered storage rooms in empty nests.

‘To combat this, transform a box room into a walk-in wardrobe — especially useful if storage in other bedrooms is minimal,’ says Helen Stephens. 

Put in a sliding door to create space and install full height wardrobes and shelving.

Reading corner 

Even if your house is quiet, how wonderful to have a tranquil place dedicated to reading. 

If possible, choose a room that’s away from the main living areas.

You don’t need to spend much on design as books are their own decoration — stored in built-in shelving, standard bookcases, unique floating wall shelves or repurposed furniture. 

Just make sure they are sturdy enough to support your library.

‘You can still use this as a bedroom by opting for furniture that can serve different purposes, such as a storage ottoman that can be used as seating, or a daybed, futon, or sofa bed to create a comfy chill-out area to read when the bed is not in use,’ says interior designer Shanade McAllister-Fisher.

Workout zone

If the gym membership has expired, having a space devoted to exercise might be a greater motivation for a make-over.

Choose a decent-sized room and swap cosy rugs or storage baskets for yoga mats, weights and other fitness equipment.

‘When guests are set to arrive it’s easy to pop these away and add more throws or cushions to shift the vibe from workout central to relaxation station,’ says Shanade.

You’ll also need a free wall for a big mirror. It will make a small wall seem larger — and watching yourself work out is good motivation.

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