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Kid flew the coop? Make over your empty nest

Finally the moment you've been waiting for, the kids are all grown up and moved out of the house, so what should you do with that newly vacant room? Interior decorator Zoe Goldfine shares some great ways to make a brand new, just-for-you space.

It’s finally arrived. That time in your life. You’ve dreaded it. You’ve longed for it. You’ve wondered if it will ever actually happen. And finally you are here — you are officially an empty nester. So, let’s get to it, let’s embrace this new life and let’s start with a little redecorating, shall we?

Integration is a key component in helping to ease this transition. So, before completely hijacking your child’s room, consider what we have come to refer to as “the three T’s”: timing, taste and tossing.

TimingIn order to make the most of the former space and avoid heavy storage fees or the cluttering of your own home, hold off on the full revamp until your child is headed to his or her first apartment. It is a certainty that they will need tons of furniture in their new place, therefore what you don’t reupholster, refinish or reuse does not go to waste.

TasteThe color factorThe easiest way to begin any room redecoration is to establish a color palette. Incorporate your child’s style with yours by using their color choice as the accent color, i.e. throw pillows, throw blankets, lamps, and objects, and use your color as the main hue draped on the upholstery, the walls and possibly the floor.

What’s your style?It’s quite possible that given the age gap (sorry, moms …) you and your child have quite a different idea of what’s chic and what’s not. To satisfy your desire for Victorian elegance and his or her desire for modern minimalism, invest in traditional pieces for the larger items such as the sleeper sofa and pepper the room with hints of modern. Purchase a classic scroll arm sofa but keep the ornamentation to a minimum (would it really kill you to nix the tassel skirt?). An eclectic room is often more appealing than a fully stylized room, thus a classic sofa paired with modern, graphic pillows can be quite the interesting and less expected choice.

To keep or not to keep … that is the question
Entertain the options that just like you, your child has lost the desire to return to their old digs left just as they were. Suddenly the four-poster bed of yesteryear and the Justin Timberlake posters are becoming less appealing to them. In fact, the idea of a revamp replete with a high-def TV may not get the sour reaction you are anticipating. However, they are probably less inclined to give up on all their hard-earned memorabilia. The trophies, ribbons, beanie babies, pom-poms, and tiaras that once defined them still deserve a final resting place in the new space, and we don’t me the closet. Dedicate a shelf or two on your new bookcase to these souvenirs. Arrange them in a way that treats them as proper collectibles (yes just like your coveted Lladro collection). Saving room for a little nostalgia will do wonders to warm the space. 

The makeover featured on the show:

The teenage girl’s room
In this room the child loved the color pink, she loved floral patterns and she loved ballet. The room, though beautiful, was just not sophisticated or mature enough to appeal to the average adult. However, because of the choice to invest in high quality furniture, it was easy to incorporate existing pieces into the new space simply by editing a bit. Redefining their place in the room, refinishing case goods and reupholstering chairs and sofas gave these great pieces a whole new vibe.

Furniture used in this room:

  • Bed: “Vendome,” Crate and Barrel, $1,399
  • Nightstand: “Julia,” Pottery Barn, $199
  • Stool: PBTeen.com, $299
  • Chair: “Plump Chair,” Shabby Chic, $2,245
  • Floating shelves: Pottery Barn, $45-55
  • Wall color: “Flush Pink,” Benjamin Moore
  • Desk: Parsons desk with drawers, West Elm, $279
  • Lampshade: Shabby Chic
  • Lamp: Crate and Barrel, $199
  • Desk accessories: Shabby Chic
  • Bed linens: Shabby Chic
  • Pair of stools: Jonathan Adler, $700 each

Her office
Pink, traditionally thought to be a color exclusive to little girls, though often still loved by women of all ages, can actually make the transition from youth to adulthood quite easily. In order to sophisticate the space we deconstructed existing furniture by eliminating all the floral patterns in exchange for solid ivory upholstery and accents of pale pink noted in the throw pillows, throw blanket and lamp bases. The lamps, which had floral pattern shades in the girl’s bedroom, were adorned with solid linen shades, ultimately a cleaner, chicer look. The plush, flower-printed chair was replaced with a white, linen slipcover, which places emphasis on the shape of the chair rather than the pattern. It's important to keep things simple when using pink in an adult room to prevent the room from appearing too childlike. Additionally, to warm the room, the case goods went from mostly white to predominately rich mahogany. Darker furniture coupled with lighter walls and upholstery provides the contrast needed to create a cozy space, a perfect backdrop for cuddling up with a book or a movie. Finally, a room of our own — pink and all.

Furniture used in this room:

  • Desk: White Parsons with two drawers, West Elm, $279  
  • Sleeper sofa: “Bayside,” Crate and Barrel, $1799
  • Ottoman: “Bench Ottoman,” Shabby Chic, $925
  • End table: “Julia,” Pottery Barn, $199
  • Bookcases: “Vendome,” Crate and Barrel, $1199
  • Desk chair: upright slipcover chair, West Elm, $299
  • Paint color: “Flush Pink,”  Benjamin Moore
  • Trim color: White Dove
  • Curtains: Res Hardware, $159-439
  • Curtain rod finials: Estate Collection, $55-75 each
  • Curtain rods: $40-95
  • Lamps: “Roslyn,”  Crate and Barrel, $199
  • Linen albums: Pottery Barn
  • Desk accessories: Shabby Chic
  • Throw blanket: Shabby Chic
  • Stuffed animal: Shabby Chic
  • Woven floor bin: West Elm
  • Vases: West Elm and Jonathan Adler
  • Lacquerware: Jonathan Adler
  • Throw pillows/blanket: Crate and Barrel
  • Picture frames: Pottery Barn
  • Desk lamp: West Elm                   

The media room
We established that pink is often the color choice for woman but, less often is it the preference for men. When redecorating a space there are two different approaches to consider. The former that we just discussed, a sort of tweaking and improvement on an existing style or the technique we used in this room — a full-blown makeover that has very little relationship to the old room. 

A media room is a place both parents can enjoy. The color gray, chosen for this room, is a neutral color, neither masculine nor feminine, that is actually quickly replacing the more traditional chocolate brown in the world of decorating — gray, the new chocolate brown. The accent color, emerald green is an unexpected coupling to the more predictable blue or red that one may more naturally be inclined to use. A daybed was chosen, in lieu of a sleeper sofa. The clean, minimalist lines with a classic 40’s style are the perfect hybrid of modern elegance. The walls and ceiling are painted a medium gray in conjunction with a similar toned floor, creating what is known in the decorating world as a jewel box effect, the feeling that one is completely ensconced in a room. The upholstery draped in lighter and darker gray tones helps to further ensconce the guest. Graduating a single color rather than using a full color palette is often more modern, soothing and sophisticated. Accents of emerald green in the desk chair, throw blanket and various bookcase objects help the room to pop. Finally, the mix of dark and light framed furniture provides some relief to what could be a very dark room. Overall, by eliminating most pattern and too much color, yet still using traditional styles we create a room that is a perfect blend of modern minimalism and classic warmth.

Furniture used in this room:

  • Daybed: “Lampert Lounger,” Jonathan Adler, $2500
  • Chairs: “Grace Chairs,” Crate and Barrel, $799
  • Bookcases: shadowbox towers, Crate and Barrel, $799
  • Desk: Parsons Black Lacquer with two drawers, $279
  • Desk chair: “Stacking in Forest,” West Elm, $169
  • Stools: benches, Jonathan Adler, $700
  • Lamps: Res Hardware, $149
  • Linen albums: Pottery Barn
  • Green throw blanket: Pottery Barn
  • Curtains: Res hardware, $159-439
  • Paint color: Pikes Peak Gray, Benjamin Moore
  • Trim color: Decorators white
  • Throw pillows, West Elm, $19-39
  • Throw blanket, Pottery Barn
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