If you're one of many Baby Boomer parents whose children have left home, perhaps you're having a tough time adjusting to your kids being gone. But you may also be eagerly asking yourself something that runs through the minds of many new Empty Nesters who plan to stay in their homes for a while - what to do with the now-spare rooms?
If you follow the growing trend of many retired-age Americans, you'll likely shun the thought of moving to Arizona or Florida upon your retirement. Instead, you'll focus on remodeling your home.
Indeed, the 2002 National Older Adult Housing Survey, conducted by the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, says that an increasing number of older adults are staying put to stay close to family, friends, and the community they've lived in for years. About 85 percent will stay in their homes.
Baby Boomers - those born between 1946 and 1964 and 82 million strong-- represent nearly a quarter of the U.S. population. They collectively control 40 percent of disposable income, and more than 70 percent of them are homeowners, which means there's plenty of money to remodel and transform those extra rooms.
Specialty rooms are expected to rise in popularity this year, the American Society of Interior Designers says. Especially popular among empty nesters, these types of rooms run the gamut - media rooms, wine cellars, meditation rooms, libraries, sewing centers, and hobby rooms.
So, if you've got an extra bedroom, bathroom, or extra space, there are plenty of options.
You may want a home office. Whether you run your own business, telecommute, or work as an independent contractor, having a bedroom available to use as a home office is a definite advantage to working in a corner of the kitchen, family room, or hallway.
Even if you don't "work" from home, a bedroom dedicated to a home office is a great place to pay your bills, conduct Internet research, exchange emails, and - if you have a digital camera - download, edit, and print your photos. Having the office in the bedroom provides privacy and a sense of a separate space.
How about a sewing or hobby room? Many Baby Boomers are avid hobbyists; there are an increasing number interested in crafts, scrapbooking, painting, ceramics, beading, flower-arranging, among many others. Now's the time the dining room can finally be used for dining, rather than being the final rest spot for your works-in-progress. Get a work table and get organized with storage units and bins.
If you've been telling yourself you really need to get into shape, but just don't have time to go to the gym, consider bringing the gym home. A treadmill or other piece of aerobic exercise equipment will fit perfectly in a standard-sized bedroom. Buy some weights and research the best exercises to do to get an all-around workout. And you may want to consider a small TV to watch while you're sweating the miles away.
Do you have small grandchildren who visit often? Then a playroom would be perfect. Consider a playroom painted in bright vivid colors. Provide lots of storage bins so toys stay organized. You may also want to consider a small table for the little ones to play games, an easel to draw and paint, and perhaps a TV and VCR for kid movie-viewing.
If you have extra closets available, put them to work for you. Store your out-of-season clothes there. Or seasonal housewares and decorations. Use a storage system to maximize space.
Or, if you have a big TV and don't like that it's the primary focus of your family room, why not convert an extra bedroom to a media room where you have your large TV. Add some comfy chairs, hook up your surround sound, grab some popcorn and you'll be set.
And if you still want a TV out in the family room or kitchen, place a smaller one there, but make the media room be the primary source of TV- and movie-viewing.
Finally, if you have an extra bedroom located next to your master bedroom, you may want to consider tearing down the wall and transforming your room into a master suite. Upgrading master bathrooms is one of the top projects for today's do-it-yourselfer.
This trend is becoming especially prevalent among Baby Boomers, who are at their peak earning years and are ready to pay for a life of luxury and comfort. Today's top manufacturers offer luxury shower and whirlpool bath systems complete with body sprays, massaging jets, waterfalls, electronic controls, steam generators, CD players and TVs.
Another master bedroom amenity that may spark your interest is the fireplace. In keeping with the tone of the bedroom as a place to relax and escape from the rigors of the everyday world, fireplaces are making their way to bedrooms and at the foot of the bathtub. Or you may want to carve out some space for a sitting room - a retreat area that is all yours, complete with a small couch or comfortable chair for reading or watching TV.
Or, you might just want to keep the room as a guest room so when your child returns home for visits he'll have a place to stay -- temporarily.