Change is hard, especially when it’s being forced upon you. But change can often be a good thing, too. Forcing growth and refreshing vitality. Those first few months after a child flies the nest are the hardest to bear when having to get to grips with the new normal of a quiet, lonely household.
Just as many soon-to-be-parents hit a sudden period of ‘nesting’ before the stork’s arrival, those on the other end of the child-rearing timeline experience an opposing feeling of grief when their home with a child reverts back to one without. Feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and a lack of purpose are joined by anxiety for them and their new life, and the loss of parental identity.
The easiest way to fill the remaining vacuum of space is to close it off. But while keeping a child’s room untouched after they move out ensures a comfortable, familiar place to stay early on, stagnant childhood rooms quickly get stuck in the past – gradually used less and less and becoming more uncomfortable when they are. By changing the typology of an old bedroom or shared space, however, parents can work their way through the feelings of Empty Nest Syndrome by re-focusing on new goals, hobbies, and environments.
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Transform Extra Space Into a Hobby Room
Psychologists advise, one of the best ways to get through the murk of Empty Nest Syndrome is to focus on the positives of the situation. And one of the biggest positives of having more time and space for yourself or selves is to spend it doing the things you love, and even learning to love some new things, too.
Parents can get through the feelings of Empty Nest Syndrome by re-focusing on new goals, hobbies and environments.
It’s not just a bedroom that gets freed up when a person moves on either. All the co-habitation living spaces around the home now have one person fewer to cater to, meaning the garage may have more space to set up an artist’s studio, for example, like the House in Vale das Videiras, a basement can be transformed into a woodshed like at Five Story House, a now-used corner of the open-plan can transform into a craft area or a music room like at the Vinyasa House or the Sleepless Residence respectively, or remaining residents can take up gardening without having to move out, like those in the Floating Nest house, who filled the homes shared interiors with plantlife.
Keep Active With a Home Gym or Outdoor Exercise Space
Another way to avoid the grip of long-term Empty Nest Syndrome grief by transforming home spaces is to focus on self-care. Learning a new skill like crafting, gardening, or a musical instrument keeps the fingers nimble and the mind sharp, but to ensure the rest of the body and brain remain in shape, there are plenty of other ways for homeowners to refocus changing room typologies on themselves. Because there may be more space and more time to spend on favorite activities when co-habitants move on, but without time on the Earth to enjoy them, what’s the point?
Staying fit and active into our later years improves life expectancy and makes the remaining time more enjoyable.
Staying fit and active into our later years not only improves our life expectancy, but it also makes our remaining time more enjoyable, too. This Semi-Detached House with Outdoor Area transforms what could have been a dark basement storage space into a light and airy home gym. And the home gym at the Terracina house uses original graffiti artwork by Parker Ito to liven up the active space at the rear of the property, making it a joy to spend time in.
It’s not just interior spaces that benefit from fewer users, either. Maison Blanc, for example, dedicates a large portion of its exterior space to a full-sized tennis court at its rear, encouraging residents to combine the therapeutic remedies of exercise and the outdoors.
Making Flexible Spaces Suitable to Welcome Visitors
Gone but not forgotten. Whether children fresh out of adolescence or older adult friends and family, ex-residents of any age may have chosen to live the majority of their life elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean they have no wish to return. By ensuring there are suitable spare or extendable spaces to sleep, eat and sit, a home can remain homely for the few, while retaining a welcoming atmosphere for the many, no matter how many come to visit.
The brief for the redesigned and aptly named ‘Birdhouses’ was to keep the family apart, but nearby. By dividing into different houses, the project ‘allowed the children to visit and stay without disturbing the natural flow and functionality of the house,’ explain architects Werkt Studio. As a four-bedroom residence designed for a single owner with extended visiting family over the holidays, the Franklin Residence similarly needed to be flexible enough to ‘work with the shifting number of occupants and still provide a sense of calm and retreat, whether there is only one occupant or a full herd,’ say the architects, Ola Studio. Meanwhile, also designed for a family to welcome others, the ANM House is separated into various rooms perfect for enjoying each other’s company in groups both large and small.
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This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics, and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.