We are fledgling empty nesters for another week. Our oldest is in Italy studying Latin for the month of July, and we dropped off the younger two at their respective camps in northern Alabama last weekend. In truth, this is not the first time we have been childless for a couple of weeks: our kids’ camp schedules have coordinated for the last three years, but I am thinking a little differently about this summer’s child-free window.
Our oldest will graduate from high school this spring, and we will have subsequent graduations every three years until 2025. No matter how much we tried to convince ourselves that we were going to spend every night on the town, the truth is that we are closer to being empty nesters than we are to being young and carefree. I’m walking around our house thinking about what kind of space we use in their absence, what’s important to keep and what we can think about shedding. It’s an emotional process as much as a physical one: I am having a hard time “archiving” the preschool artwork from under our daughter’s bed despite its propensity to collect dust, but I’m a little excited about “needing” less space for legos and unused board games.
In the studio, I am working on projects for families in all different stages of life, those with young kids to those thinking about grandkids. And, as with all projects, conversations about what comes next are essential. As families move through these transitions, we talk about the practical things like open and closed kitchens, curbless showers and master bedrooms on the main level. And we talk about the fun stuff too, like teenage hangout rooms, coffee bars in the master suite and a study just for reading. Decisions about how to downsize or scale up are not easy for lots of reasons, and many times the decision process is made more difficult by having a conversation without having information. Working with an architect to help plan that transition allows you to “try on” different options, develop realistic budgets, and be able to make decisions based on information rather than speculation. Moving to the next stage is never easy, but getting a handle on the tangible parts of these life stage transitions can make the emotional parts a little less bumpy.
Are you ready to start planning for the next stage? We’d love to talk.