With two of my girls off at college and my last one with a little over a year before she leaves, I find my house starting to feel a little too big.
I love my location in Mountain Brook, AL, and my home that I put so much of myself into, but I hate the idea of unused space. I realize this is probably not my last house.
And like my empty nest clients, my next home will be one that will need to carry us through the final stage of life, and I realize my needs as an empty nester will be different than those of someone with children living at home.
So if you find yourself thinking like me, here are five tips every empty nester should know when building a house:
1. Not all of your furniture will fit in a scaled down home. This is a great time to think about the pieces your truly love and have meaning to you. Practice living well in this new home by simplifying, downsizing and surrounding yourself only with things you love and use.
2. Your children may not want your discards. Newsflash….When you are cleaning out, chances are that if you don’t want Aunt Susie’s favorite chair, your children may not either. Give them the gift of deciding what they would like to bring into their home without the pressure of keeping a family piece. When it is time, savor the memories and let go.
3. Customize this home to you. Life is short and life is meant for living well. If you have always wanted a large storage closet for your china and silver, build it. Surround yourself and customize your home to what brings you joy.
And while your space may be smaller, this is a great time to upgrade your finishes and details. Thought out touches add value to your home and to your life.
For instance, the home below was for my empty nest clients. They did not want a breakfast room because they like to eat everyday meals around an island. I wanted them to really enjoy their kitchen and especially their island, so we focused on making the space unique and extra special for them.
Island customized for everyday meals. Dana Wolter Interiors, Graham Yelton Photography
Custom island with reeded doors. Dana Wolter Interiors
4. Create dual purpose rooms. While you may not have children and grandchildren visit every day, you want them to feel welcome when they do. If your new home doesn’t allow for enough extra bedrooms, think dual rooms, such as an office or sitting room with a bed or pullout sofa in it.
For instance, we turned this garage into a playroom because my clients needed extra space for watching tv when all of their grown children are home. We added an extra long sofa that has a pullout sofa for family visits.
Just because you give up square footage when downsizing does not mean you should ever give up entertaining or hosting overnight guests.
5. Think Long Term. While you may be healthy now and still running marathons every few months, your forever home may need to transition one day to the later stages of life.
What will that mean for you? It may mean a master on the main or an elevator for upstairs’ access, limited stairs where possible, and a shower and tub that are easy to get in and out.
So here’s to living well in your home and making it unique to you. Life is about surrounding yourself with people and memories you love and enjoy.
If we can help you create the home of your dreams, email us here. I’d love to discuss with you.
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