When the kids fly the coop, remodeling a bedroom into practical office space, often with room for two, is among the top home projects for newly child-free parents. Others popular options are a media room or an expanded master bedroom suite with a roomy, walk-in closet.


Congratulations, parents.

You did it.

Your children have spread their wings and are off to college, leaving you with an uncompromising sense of pride and accomplishment - and an entire household all to yourselves.

So now what to do with all that extra space?

Sharmin Pool-Bak, owner of Complete Dimensions Interior Design, suggests making it multifunctional.

You can use it as an office or a guest room, or combine the two, she said, with a desk and storage cabinets for your computer equipment, wires, gadgets and files, but also a nice sleeper sofa or Murphy bed that pulls down from the wall, for visitors.

"It is a way to make it comfortable for residents who use the room most of the year, as well as for the family and friends who come and stay for a week at a time," she said.

Pool-Bak says the key to balancing both worlds is making sure you have enough storage space for your business things while friends are in town.

"If your office stuff is everywhere and someone wants to come in and spend the weekend, you don't want them feeling afraid to move around," she said.

Janice Donald, owner of Eren Design & Remodeling Co. Inc., had recent clients who, after they were sure their adult daughter was not returning home, eliminated her room altogether. They expanded their master bedroom's bathroom and added a brand-new walk-in closet.

"It gave them what they long needed and allowed them to stay rather than move," Donald said.

Donald added that other clients have taken less drastic steps, leaving the kid's room as is, so they can focus on remodeling their own bedroom.

"A lot of our empty-nest clients are improving their master bedrooms, because as the kids leave, they have a more expendable income," she added. "The financial burdens associated with parenting have made way for some creative comforts for themselves."

Barbara Schaefer, owner of Barbara Schaefer Design Group LLC since 2003, said television rooms are popular with many of her empty nesters.

These rooms, complete with large flat-screen televisions, state-of-the-art speaker systems, recliners and sofas, are dedicated to getting the most enjoyment out of the television-viewing experience.

"One of our recent clients wanted to keep their living room as a social room for when visitors came over," Schaefer said. "TV wasn't part of that social experience. This way, they could have that space TV-free, but also have a place to watch Netflix when they wanted."

Schaefer also has seen clients turn the extra room into an extra-large office, one that is suitable for both parties, with a partner desk and enough shelf space for his-and-her books.

"A lot of the homes have one office, and it is almost always the husband's office," Schaefer said. "The wife usually has something small, like a desk in the kitchen. With a larger office, they can have a wonderful space together."


•Complete Dimensions Interior Design, 403-1572.

•Eren Design & Remodeling Co. Inc., 885-2500.

•Barbara Schaefer Design Group LLC, 615-5050.

Gerald M. Gay is a Tucson-based freelance writer. Contact him at geraldmgay@gmail.com