Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Summer is over, and the class of 2012 is joining the ranks of college graduates. Ideally, many graduates will land jobs and go out into the real world. However, with the weak economy and high unemployment, many new grads are still looking for work. As a result, lots of them will return to the nest. The Pew Research Center reported in early 2012 that three-in-ten young adults ages 25 to 34 live at home due to the rough economy of recent years. Although this phenomenon is a growing trend, many graduates do move out of their family home to live on their own.
For many families, the graduate’s absence leaves the house with a spare room. What does a family do with this new real estate? Here are some ideas to consider for repurposing the room.
Tip #1 Talk about Room Switches Early If the college-bound child or college grad’s room is intended for a younger sibling, make that clear to everyone in the family sooner rather than later. If necessary, establish the order of how and when room switches will occur. The room swap often depends on the desirability of the vacant room. If siblings currently share a bedroom, then having an empty room may be very appealing to the younger children.
Tip #2 Wait to Redecorate/Repurpose If the bedroom is not needed for a younger sibling now, but for repurposing, give the adult child some warning about the changes to their “old” room. Although the adult child may return to the family home only for visits or short over-night stays, be aware of the territorial feeling they may have towards their childhood bedroom. Let them have some time in the house as a “visitor” before making any big changes. Let them know what the plans are for the room.
Tip #3 Don’t Throw Anything Away Repurposing is likely to mean “out with the old and in with the new”. Posters, pictures, knickknacks, blankets, books and clothes the child has not looked at in years can suddenly become prized possessions that must be saved. Instead of throwing items away, pack everything into boxes and store them. Give a reasonable amount of time for the person to sort and cull through the items. At the end of that time frame, recycle, reuse, donate or toss items as appropriate.
Tip #4 Include College Student/Grad in Redecorating If the adult child is likely to return to their old home and need their room periodically, include them in the redecorating/repurposing plans. For example, ask for paint color suggestions and then, after a respectable amount of time, paint the room a color that's in keeping with their first or second choice.
Tip #5: Keep the Bed If the room is being repurposed as a guest room, keep the bed. It's what many students miss most when they move away from home to go to college. Change the curtains, sheets and comforters, and so on, but if the room was formerly a young man’s, resist the urge to go "shabby chic". Keep the decor neutral enough for the returning student or grad to feel at home.
Tip #6 Decorate with Multifunctional Furniture Try to create a room in which the visiting son or daughter will be able to fully function when home. For example, an "office armoire" will make the room function as an office, but can be closed to make the desk area less conspicuous when the room is serving as a bedroom.
Tip #7 Allow for Some Clothing Storage Leave some room in the closet for the college student/grad to keep their clothes, but rearrange, organize, and even store some clothes to make room for new stuff, too. College students in particular will appreciate having a place to keep their off-season clothes, since dorm room closets are notoriously small.
About merge2gether (http://www.merge2gether.com): Founded in 2011, merge2gether is headquartered in Oakland, California. merge2gether.com is an online community offering resources to guide people as they think and talk through the process of moving in with another person. merge2gether provides free information, questions-and-answers and ideas to people of all ages and at all stages of life.