Empty Nesters Home Decor Design Guide

Tara Dickinson
10 minute read

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Empty nesters refers to a home where the kids have grown-up and moved out and the remaining family are starting a new phase in their lives; a time in life for wonderful new beginnings. Empty nesters now have time for so many new things in their lives.

  • Time to reconnect with yourself as well as others.
  • Start a new hobby or connect back with an old one.
  • Explore something new that you’ve always wanted to try (music, cook, sing, sew, travel, build, another career).
  • Travel to places you want to go without having to worry about others. Eco-travel adventures are even better!

empty nesters

During this time of transition, many couples, singles, or remaining family members in the home will take account of where they are in their lives and what they'd like the next chapter to look like. Some of those conclusions predict the remaining years staying just where they are, wanting to age in place so to speak. Research shows that by age 65 more than 75% of older Americans want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible but only 1% of homes in the United States are conducive to this. Start now and plan for a retirement of casual luxury in your own home.

Aging in Place

You may not yet be at the age of retirement or considered a senior citizen yet, but if you are an empty nester and evaluating the next phase, you can benefit as well by looking at these guidelines.

  • Aging in place simply means living a fulfilling life independently in your own home designed for your comfort, convenience, and safety in retirement.
  • Baby boomers are embracing aging in place as part of the "successful aging" trend and remodeling their homes to support this new vision of the Golden Years.
  • You want and deserve a home that gives the freedom to flourish into the future.

Time For a Redesign

Now that you have a home without the kids 24/7, you have the freedom to redesign and plan for the next 30 years of living in place.

  • You need a great home for retirement.
  • Look at your home as an evolving process; redesign it to your specific needs and comforts.
  • Take the approach of vacation style living at home.
  • Design your home now for a better quality of life in retirement and beyond.
  • Reimagine and reinvent your home into a stylish, comfortable and safe retreat for decades to come; a retreat where you can age in place.

Remodel or Redecorate Your Home

Having your home all to yourself means you can reclaim all your space by giving your home a makeover and adding your own touch to every room. Some new projects or additions to consider as you plan for the reorganization of your home:

  1. Adopt a pet- if you don’t have one already, bringing a rescue animal into your family is a very fulfilling activity. If you plan to do this, consider what you’ll need to accommodate your furry friend.
  2. Read more- reading and keeping the mind active has proven to stave off Alzheimer's and other brain degeneration issues caused by aging. Now’s the time to join a book club or add a home library or comfortable reading nook in your home.
  3. Create a home gym- if your home now has the room, why not add a dedicated workout space? A fit body leads to longer health and happiness.
  4. Eco-volunteer activities- giving back to your community is personally fulfilling and even more, is so needed and makes a difference in many people’s lives.
  5. Get organized: declutter!- this is big and probably something everyone needs to tackle. There are many guides to help you go through this process smoothly as well as hauling and selling services to help you once you’re ready to get rid of all that clutter.

Choose a Style

Now that you’re ready to do some home upgrades and create that oasis for your daily enjoyment, it is helpful to decide on a home decor style. The style options are influenced from all corners of the world, with everything from Asian to Americana to Industrial, Shabby Chic, Techno and more. These guides will offer you room by room suggestions and outlines.

Universal Design

Simply defined seeks to create home environments that offer safety and comfort for all people with no need for adaptation or functional changes. In this country, multi-generational households are more common today than they were even 10 years ago, due in part to the recent recession. If you are already remodeling, planning ahead for the possibility of elder parents or older kids possibly living with you in the future, it is worth the time and consideration in the moment. Homes that incorporate universal design principles are not only perfectly suited for the needs of an aging population but are also appropriate for families with young children.


Hobby Space

With your redesign and reorganization of the home, think about adding space for your hobby. With your materials all in one place, you will gravitate to it and feel more inspired to create.

  • Depending on your craft, consider what time of furniture, storage, tables, tools you might need.
  • Sewing, quilt room.
  • Garden shed, potting room.
  • Building models.
  • Painting, arts, or crafts room.
  • A garage is a great place for this kind of setup as well. 

Home Office

Many people will pursue second or third careers in retirement, whether you’re using your talents to counsel or advise others, making an online program, or writing an educational book, having a home office space might be a great addition.


Design features and additions to consider installing in the bedroom for future ease and comfort.

  • Select a bed that sits lower to the ground, eliminating a tall box frame; easier in and out access.
  • Don’t forget the accompanying nightstands at the proper heights for ease of use.
  • Install open closets with easy-access shelving and pull-down rods.
  • Add a handrail close to the bed for stability when needed. 


A lot of the suggestions below offer extreme ease of use and are safe for all ages, from children to senior grandparents.

  • Wall ovens with doors that open to the side rather than fold down to the front.
  • Lower the cooktop so that burners are easily accessible by a short person or from a wheelchair.
  • Trade traditional faucets for models with blade handles or motion controls.
  • Store dishes in below-counter drawers and eliminate upper cabinets.
  • Install pull-out shelves and corner lazy-Susans.
  • Add a mobile, chair-height island to provide maneuvering space for wheelchairs.
  • Side-by-side refrigerators with lower shelves within everyone’s reach.
  • Cooktops with controls in front, so nobody’s reaching over hot food.
  • Microwaves belong at countertop height or on a cart.
  • Rounded corners on countertops, open shelves, tables, make for safer, easier traffic flow.
  • Slide-out cutting board: can also be a seated workstation; disappears when not in use.

  • Rolling carts- bring supplies where you need them with a well-built cart on locking wheels.


Simple renovations to your bathroom will ensure that it is comfortable for the duration and all age guests that might be using them as well. For example, an easy way to assure that a bathroom is usable by small children, as well as someone in a wheelchair, is to simply lower the vanity sink and eliminate the cabinet underneath, opting instead for a slim vanity shelf. Other redesigns might include:

  • Comfort-height toilets.
  • Step-through tubs, and showers with no curbs.
  • Install grab bars in the tub or shower and on either side of the toilet.
  • Consider automatic flushing mechanisms.
  • Install anti-scalding temperature controls in showers.
  • Add a fold-down seat, chair, or stool to the tub or shower.
  • Choose an adjustable-height shower head with a handheld wand.
  • Bidet toilet seats.
  • Lever-style faucet handles.
  • Artful support- the picture below is a beautiful example of the evolved style of household safety appliances. A grab bar that also serves as whimsical wall art.


No one wants to admit it but sight changes as we get older, and that includes being able to see at night and in darkened areas. These are some great additions to consider with the revamping of your empty nest home.

  • Lighted switches and motion-activated lighting.
  • Lighted cover plates and outlets make it easier to find the switch.
  • Replace traditional toggle light switches with easy-to-use rocker panel switches.
  • Night-lights are useful in hallways, stairwells, and many other places. LEDs mean less bulb burnout.
  • A lighted outlet covers direct a constant beam where it’s wanted while keeping receptacles clear for other uses.

Outdoor Spaces

It's all about the flow and connecting your inside home with your outside living spaces. Whether it’s an outdoor kitchen and dining space, a front porch that’s set up for hours of enjoyment, or you just want to revamp your backyard into a rocking hangout area, transforming your outdoor available space is paramount to a vacation style home that will bring you endless enjoyment all year long.


  • Replace traditional doorknobs with lever door handles, which are much easier to grasp.
  • Remove rugs and carpets wherever possible and replace them with smooth, non-slip surfaces like cork, rubber, or linoleum.
  • Install handrails in hallways and on staircases, especially between bedrooms and bathrooms.
  • Lower wall switches.


Smart Technology

Want to live in ultimate comfort mode? How about controlling your home from your fingertips from just about anywhere? That’s the ease of a ‘smart home’. Definitely worth looking into. Smart technology is ideal for people who are aging in place. Rather than getting up to adjust the thermostat or turn on the lights, you can remain seated and do so with the touch of a button. You can connect a wide variety of devices, sensors, or appliances within your home. These include:

  • Appliances (stoves, refrigerators, or laundry machines)
  • Door locks
  • Home security systems
  • Lighting
  • Thermostats
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Virtual assistants (Echo, Google Home, or Siri)


Here are some good links for research and helpful resources.

  • AARP / The American Association of Retired Persons publishes the free HomeFit Guide and other materials.
  • NAHB / The National Association of Home Builders offers a Checklist and runs a program to certify builders and others as specialists.
  • National Institute on Aging / An arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the institute has tips on how to plan for aging in place.
  • Living in Place Institute / This private institute has a network of design pros who specialize in accessibility, and also runs its own certification program.




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