A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Monday, 25 May 2015

Life in an (Almost) Empty Nest

Lifestyle, Empty nest.My family have lived in our current home for eighteen years now and our twin daughters, Sophia and Olivia have grown up here. When I reflect on that time, I realise that the house has seen many changes to suit the needs of the girls from toddler to teen years and beyond. Two years ago the girls left for university and for most of the time they now live away from home. This meant that our living space has changed once again to suit our needs as a family with grown-up children.

We miss the girls when they're away, but their departure has given us the opportunity to sample what life might be like once they leave for good. I'm always happy to spend time with our daughters and when they're home, life is fabulous, but chaotic. As a result, the house has to adapt to the needs of a couple, as well as a family of four adults and we've had to be creative to make that happen.

I love the quote from William Morris that says, 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' Morris's advice is as timely today as it was more than one hundred years ago and is always in my thoughts when contemplating changes to our home.

I thought I'd share a few tips on how to make your home a versatile living space for anyone who's in a similar situation...

1. Declutter
Not loving the clutter from family life? Donate, recycle and discard to create a minimalist living space that's functional and stays that way. Clutter makes for a chaotic lifestyle and wastes valuable time as you're forever moving things to create space. Keep it tidy and you can use this time more wisely.

Grown up space, empty nest

2. Keep the cute stuff
There will always be things you can't bear to part with - photos, drawings from nursery and your children's favourite toys. Hold onto belongings that you love - these are the memories of life together as a family and should be cherished.

3. Create versatile storage space
If you're at the in-between phase where children are away but come home again with all their belongings, make sure there's plenty of space to store everything. The blanket box we purchased as a toy box when the girls were small is still being used to stash some of their university kit and therefore, was a brilliant buy. 

4. Recreate
Don't feel guilty about recreating adult space in your home once the children have moved out. It's time to be yourself and take advantage of a new found freedom that suits your lifestyle. We've learnt to confine our daughters' belongings to their bedrooms while the rest of the house is ours to enjoy.

Empty nest, grown up space

5. Love what you own/ buy what you love
While owning less is most definitely the way to go, it's important to love what you have and not compromise on quality or style. Replace worn items with purchases you love and if there's any doubt about whether something is a great investment for your home - sleep on it for a while. Chances are you'll know what to do after that time.

6. Create a grown-up space for your adult children
After the girls left home we revamped their bedrooms to give a functional space along with everything they might need as students. They spend a lot of time studying and relaxing up there so it's important that they still feel at home. As there are more books than ever we've added extra bookshelves. We've also kept a selection of favourite bits and pieces from childhood.
7. Hold onto what works for you
Our squishy leather sofas were a brilliant investment and not something I'm planning on changing anytime soon. When the girls are home we frequently pile onto one sofa for movie night and when they're away, Mr A and myself have a sofa each and make the most of the space. The sofas are regularly updated with new cushions and throws.

Empty nest, grown up space

I was asked by Harvey's Furniture to share some tips on creating a home that grows with you and to focus on life with grown-up children as part of their national survey. There's a chance to win a sofa and £500 to spend on finishing touches for your living room from Cargo. Good luck x

This is a collaborative post.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton


  1. My parents did the revamp on our bedrooms and it's perfect as they're now very clean airy rooms if we happen to want an overnight trip. Brilliant tips :)

  2. As soon as we moved out, my parents also did a huge revamp on their house - but kept the bedrooms for us for whenever we wanted to come back! I agree that big investments such as sofas are keepers - I like the way you've revamped them with new cushions. That's a great idea! Good luck with the competition x

  3. Great post. I am in the process of decluttering at the moment because we will be putting our house on the market soon. It's so difficult with children and puppies around to make a mess of everything!xx

  4. when ours left home we then moved so no real issues about rooms etc. We have one spare room that is decorated to the two boys tastes and the wardrobe contains boxes with their bits and pieces in that i bring out before they visit to make it feel more like home. my parents and hubbys mother song have a room for us to stay in, my parents house is filled with their stuff and MIL just doesn't have any beds, but does have 2 spare rooms.

  5. Some great tips in this post - particularly the one about decluttering, which is very relevant for us (with the kids being only 5 and 3). Trouble is, we have to do it at dead of night as they want to hang onto each and every rubbish piece of plastic!

  6. Great tips! I think it's wonderful that you recognize the changing needs of your family are willing to make adjustments for them. Something is always changing in our house and I like to find new ways to use the spaces we have!

  7. IKWYM about re-claiming your life - great tips! X


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