Empty Nest Bedroom Ideas: Fill that Empty Room with New Purpose

Welcome, empty nesters. I joined your ranks this summer when I helped my youngest child move from Texas to North Carolina. A recent graduate from Texas A&M University, she goes to launch the next chapter of her life… alone… without me. 

Without me? How is this possible?!

Daughter, mother and seated on a park bench at night illuminated by a lamp post.

As a mother, I wonder, how do you transition from being completely engrossed in your child’s day-to-day life to suddenly leaving them free to follow their own path?

It is what her father and I have worked hard to do: groom her for an independent and successful life. Why then does it feel so unnatural? 

The Journey to an Empty Nest

The 1,200-mile road trip to North Carolina took us 20 hours (one way), stopping though several of the southern states along the way before finally reaching her landing place: New Bern, North Carolina.

We stayed in an inviting bed and breakfast called The Meadows Inn and became fast friends with the owner, Linda. (If you visit, tell her that Brenda sent you!)

Mosaic floor tiles spell "Baxter"
Mosaic tiles welcome visitors to the Baxter clock repair shop in New Bern, North Carolina.

This riverfront town seems like the set of a Hallmark movie with a storied history (the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola along with several other firsts), a thriving culture, and a commercial district teeming with creative, one-of-a-kind shops and museums.

My favorite was a clock repair shop named Baxter after the jewelry shop that once occupied the space. The new shop occupants adopted the name of the original store and carefully preserved the tile floor mosaic dating back to July 24, 1920. 

This Time Feels Different

The Baxter clock in New Bern, North Carolina
The Baxter Clock in New Bern, North Carolina.

New Bern is a charming community in which to start a new life and make a home. This is little consolation to me, however. She is my only daughter and my third and last child to graduate and find independence. As a mom, I worry about her safety (as I worry about all my children), but this time feels different.

She’s my baby. I have no other children at home to pour my mothering instincts into and—with seven states between us—I feel helpless to protect her in an emergency. I have to trust she will be wise and avoid some of the mistakes I made as a young woman.

It feels surreal that this longtime job description is now suddenly fulfilled. The job I’ve cherished is now, what… complete? Am I now essentially taking a bow for a job well done and returning for the standing ovations? Hmmm.

So as I hear nothing but crickets in my suddenly empty home, what should I do with her old bedroom? I’m a designer, so you know I’m going to think about this.

Ideas to Re-Purpose an Empty Nest Bedroom

I’ve asked other empty nesters what they recommended or how they re-purposed their own empty rooms. They responded with empty nest room ideas such as dual-purpose room that combines the function of a guest bedroom with the fun of a craft room, library, home gym, man cave, or other personal space.

Some friends downsized; one even recommended moving to Portugal!

I have to confess my favorite idea was to repurpose a grown child’s teenage bedroom into a bunk room for grandchildren. “Grandchildren love to sleep in their parent’s old rooms,” this person remarked.

I decided on… a guest room. Keeping special family photos and fun mementos resting on cherished, inherited furniture pieces help tell the story and preserve the legacy of the stylish women before me, from my own mother to my aunts and grandmothers. 

 Window Shutters in Dallas
Rich textures, family heirlooms, and soft lighting contribute to the perfect empty nest guest room.

My Ideal Guest Room

A cat sits on the floor next to a pair of vintage stools re-purposed as a guest bedroom bedside table.
Vintage stools are re-purposed as bedside tables in this heirloom-inspired guest bedroom.

The bed is the focus of this comfortable guest space, dressed with down-filled comforters, quilts, velvet and linen layers, and down pillows (who’s counting how many?). The soft bedding is contrasted against textured, woven-wood window coverings from Hunter Douglas.

Close up of textured, custom pillows on a reupholstered antique settee
Layer texture, color, and pattern with various sizes for ultimate drama. Our average pillow sizes are 20 and 24 inches.

The shades feature top-down, bottom-up functionality so guests can lower the shades from the top as well as the bottom to let in natural light and enjoy a view of the treetops, while still maintaining privacy. Plush towels are ready, and a lamp with warm light is turned on when it is time to welcome visitors.

A lamp with warm light is turned on when it is time to welcome visitors. Layers of bedding invite guests to stay awhile.

I look forward to hosting my baby girl, my friends and my family at my home—the more the merrier. I’ll maybe even start preparing myself for grandchildren… in a few years.

Custom Drapery Designs, LLC

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