My wife and I live in an old 1887 brick house that was built by a contractor who came over from Teddington, England back in the late 1800’s.
We managed to do a fairly extensive remodel about 8 years ago, before we had any kids. Now our pristine remodel has taken on a new look. The stainless steel appliances have small dents in them and both of my boys have no idea who put them in there. However, they are suspiciously about 3 feet up from the floor, about where a grubby set of hands might be smashing weaponry into the Viking warriors invading the kitchen. Oh, when I say Viking warrior, I am referring to a Viking refrigerator.
The floors have numerous dents, dings and magic marker marks in them, and our walls are fall prey to Arthur’s phase of drawing on just about anything.
So, I understand it when someone comes to me and says; “Our last kid is in college (and it’s paid for) and now we want to remodel our house. “
I’ve been talking to people about remodeling projects for about 17 years, and here is my unofficial list of the projects people do when their last kid leaves home.
The number 3 project is a basement remodel:
Most often, I find that the basement is the last spot the kids lived in before they left for college. Now it’s time to pull the posters off the wall, open the space up and make a great entertainment area for your friends. Many times this includes putting in a mini kitchen, wiring everything for audio and video, sometimes it includes adding a bathroom, and it seems like it always means bringing in more light.
The number 2 project is upgrading a bathroom:
Usually this is done in conjunction with a master bedroom suite. It seems that when the last kid is off to college, there is a collective sigh of relief from most parents and they feel they can now relax. Master bedrooms suites are a place many empty nesters choose to spend money in to create a wonderful relaxing atmosphere. Often an empty nester master bedroom suite combines a couple of rooms in the house, or sometimes space is added on to the house. Design is usually important here because often people are looking for more fresh air, light, and a sense of openness and I am guessing freedom.
The number 1 project by far though, is a kitchen remodel:
Kitchen remodels make up about 60% of most empty nester projects. Many times these kitchen remodels include taking down walls or adding space to the house. Cabinetry is usually important and so are the details that go into the kitchen project. Most empty nester kitchens tend towards the middle to higher end of budgets. Often professional level appliances, LED lighting, and solid surface countertops are a must.
In the end, it seems like remodeling a home into exactly what you wished it would be, for the last 10 years, after the kids are off at college or just starting their careers is a priority. Don’t forget though that sometimes kids move back home and don’t forget that grandkids are probably just as destructive (only much more adorable) as your own kids may have been.
Check out Reflections in Remodeling to see what other remodeling project people have done.