It’s official. You’ve dropped your youngest child off at college and are returning back to an “empty nest.” While it can be bittersweet to see your child leave home in search of independence and adulthood, it can be a joyous time for you now that you have the house all to yourself.

Your home was once centered around your family’s hectic schedule. Now that you are no longer spending time carpooling and helping with last-minute science fair projects, it’s time to figure out how you want to change your home to reflect your new life and interests.

Here are some ideas that might get your creative juices flowing.

Don’t limit living space to your home’s interior walls. If you enjoy barbecuing and hosting parties, consider the possibility of an outdoor kitchen. Adding a hearth or grill for cooking, a sink for ease in preparing food and a small fridge to keep things fresh will make entertaining easy.

If entertaining isn’t your thing, designing an area for a retreat might be the option for you. Add plants, water features and comfortable furniture to create a space to get away from it all. The options for outdoor rooms are endless and can be tailored to fit your life.

You may still be a very active member of the workforce. An extra bedroom or den previously used for family activities can be turned into a home office.

Home offices are becoming more of a necessity with more people telecommuting or running their own businesses from home. A consumer preferences survey by the National Association of Home Builders found a home office was the third most desired specialty room.

Breathing room

Depending on the age of your home, you may find your master bedroom or bath is too small. Expand into space that isn’t being used to build the master bath of your dreams or to create a separate seating or dressing area in your bedroom.

Incorporating these changes will not only create a home that suits your new life, they are ones that may increase the value of your home for the time when you sell.

This article was provided by a member of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association. The Remodelers Council is dedicated to promoting professionalism and public awareness of the remodeling profession through education, certification and service to the Houston-area community. To find a professional remodeler in your area, visit