A New Chapter: Empty Nesters’ Reno Stories

When kids flee the coop, it’s time for change

Grown children leaving the nest gives parents an opportunity to rethink their lifestyle and their home. For some, that means turning an old bedroom into a gym or office, but for these renovators, it meant tackling kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas to best suit their needs. From a couple looking to downsize to one returning home, learn more about their stories below.

empty nester remodel, kitchen, living room

JoAnn and Brian wanted to leave their 4,800-square-foot house in New Jersey to make a one-bedroom they already owned in Manhattan their new home. “Living in Manhattan had always been a desire. Since we were empty-nesters and our daughter was already living in the city, we decided to renovate our 600-square-foot rental apartment for ourselves,” they shared. While downscaling by over 4,000-square-feet definitely presented a challenge, a focus on storage in the kitchen and bedroom closets set them up for success.

empty nester remodel, bathroom, renovation
empty nester remodel, bathroom, renovation

The guest bathroom in Mary Ann and Frank’s three-bedroom apartment was almost all original from 1929. They bought the apartment in 1992, but wanted to wait to renovate until their two kids had left home. Their wish list included having a separate walk-in shower in addition to a new tub. To make room for a walk-in shower, they removed the storage closet next to the door. Otherwise, the footprint remained as is, while new tiles and fixtures contributed to the transformation.

empty nester remodel, kitchen

Margery and Jim had been waiting for their opportunity to return to New York City. “Jim and I originally worked in New York and then Jim got transferred. We lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia for about 20 years and then when the kids grew up, we said now’s our chance to move back to the city, because we’re really city people,” Margery shared. They purchased an apartment in the Clinton Hill Co-ops with incredible views that also needed some work. After living in the apartment for six months, they were ready to remodel. The couple worked with their Sweeten general contractor to bring their industrial-meets-modern vision to life, and take down walls to maximize natural light.

Learn why five homeowners chose to remodel their homes—instead of moving.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, and scope, helping until project completion. Follow the blog for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation on Sweeten.