(BPT) - Whether they're heading off to college or they've finally finished their education and are starting their careers in a distant city, the departure of kids from your nest makes for a bittersweet time. If you've committed much of your energy-and most of your home-to raising kids for a couple of decades, you may be at loose ends when they move out. Home improvement is just the ticket to make yourself feel better!
Updating your home after the kids move out is good for you on multiple levels. In addition to the emotional boost, improvements can enhance your home's resale value if you're planning to down-size down the road. Or, you can focus on home improvements that will facilitate aging in place, like improving the lighting and usability of key rooms, such as bathrooms and the kitchen.
Here are a handful of renovation ideas for baby boomers looking to reclaim their home spaces after the kids have left the nest:
Emphasize natural lighting and ventilation
Vision changes as you age, so the artificial lighting that worked for you when you were in your 30s or 40s may not be adequate when you enter your 50s and 60s. Lighting is an important upgrade if you plan to remain in your home into your Golden Years. Look for improvements that will help aging eyes see better, like increased natural lighting and task lighting in work areas.
Modern, energy efficient fresh air skylights are a cost-effective and beautiful way to improve a home's natural lighting and passive ventilation. Especially effective for ventilation in kitchens and for ventilation and privacy in bathrooms, skylights like those made by Velux America can work in virtually any room - even those with no direct roof access. Have a ground-floor laundry room, closet, hallway or other area that could use more light? Sun Tunnel Tubular skylights can deliver natural light from the roof into all areas of the home and electric light kits are available for 24/7 functionality.
Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights can also improve a home's energy efficiency and improve indoor air quality through passive ventilation. Solar-powered blinds, available in designer colors and patterns, further boost the efficiency and beauty of skylights. Plus, the skylight, blinds and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.
Create a 'me space'
You already have a guest bedroom, so there's no need to leave Junior's old room set up as a bedroom. Turn it into a space that works for you, like a home office, exercise room, music studio, craft room, workshop or home theater.
As you're planning the improvement, keep in mind your long-term plans. If you'll be selling the home at some point, consider a room that will have broader appeal, like a home office. If you plan to age in place, remember to incorporate features that will facilitate your use of the room even if you experience mobility issues down the road. For example, you may want to take the opportunity to widen doorways, replace doorknobs with door handles, replace loose carpet or slippery tiles with slip-resistant flooring, and improve natural lighting and ventilation throughout the room.
Renovate (or create) a master bathroom
Bathrooms sell homes, and if you've had to share your bathroom with the kids or live with an outdated master bathroom - or none at all - now's the time to renovate your bathroom. In addition to all the luxurious features you've been dreaming of, like a rainfall shower head and heated floor, keep in mind the practical improvements that will make the room safe and usable as you grow older.
Look for slip-resistant flooring, improve natural and task lighting and replace faucet knobs with easy-to-maneuver levers. Install grab bars around tubs and toilets, as well as in the shower. Bath product designers are now making grab bars that offer the look of design elements coupled with the security of sturdy support.
The departure of your children creates an opportunity to accomplish some home improvements you've been dreaming of for a while. As you're reclaiming spaces once devoted to kids, look for improvements that can increase your home's value and help you stay in your house as long as you wish.