Summer may be in full swing now, but soon many parents will be experiencing the bittersweet prospect of sending a child off to college for the first time.
This is a time of transition for both the student and the parents. The college-bound teen is more than likely bubbling with excitement over foreseen freedom and anticipating all the adventures that lie ahead. Parents – not so much! However, once resigned to the fact that time does indeed march on, empty nesters can find solace in realizing that there is a freshly vacated room just waiting to be revamped and put to a new use. Oh, the possibilities! Will it be a guest room? Or, perhaps, an office, a craft room, a man cave, a library, or even a home gym? How about just a cleaner, more organized space for the young scholar to return home to on college breaks? Here are some cleaning, storage, and organizing tips to ready the room for guests and the young student’s visits home.
Start by doing some serious sorting. Include your child in this process to avoid trashing or donating anything that they consider too special to part with — so, do this step before they depart for college. Things to go through include clothing, books, souvenirs, pictures, artwork, school papers, DVDs, CDs, trophies, awards, and anything else that has accumulated throughout the years. Once these items have been weeded through, box or bag all the articles to be donated, then immediately take them to the donation center of choice. Weeding out items is the first step to a clutter-free space.
Next, determine how to store the remaining items. This process is essential because you will want to have storage aids on hand when you begin organizing the room. Choices also depend on where you will store these items – attic, basement, garage, or inside the home. Really think about the options available – containers, wardrobes, storage bags, freestanding clothes racks, a closet organization system, shelving units, baskets, under-the-bed storage, photo boxes, photo albums, and trunks. Also, have cleaning products and tools ready to deep clean with as furniture is moved and drawers are emptied. Gather a bucket, mop, vacuum cleaner, broom, scrubbing sponges, and cleaning products suitable for the surfaces to be cleaned. Also, have a scrubbing brush and hand bristled toothbrush (for tight spots and corners) and a long-handled duster on hand to reach fan blades, tops of door and window frames, baseboards, and blinds. It is also the perfect time for a fresh coat of paint if you were not thrilled with your teen’s choice of color!
Now that the room has been purged and cleaned, begin the storing and organizing process. Here are some ideas for how to deal with the items you have left.
Take this opportunity to freshen up the bed with a new set of bedding and pillows. Replace the mattress if needed. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that Murphy beds come as freestanding units or in chests. While more expensive, these choices allow the room to function as a dual-purpose space.
Hopefully, most of this category has been eliminated or drastically pared down during the initial sorting. However, there is always something that tugs at the teen’s heartstrings (or parent’s) that makes letting it go too troublesome, such as a beloved teddy bear or blanket. You can store these items in baskets or boxes. Other options include buying a memory box or keeping these cherished items in a chest or small trunk.
Photos, books, school artwork, trophies, academic awards, and DVDs are all items to think about when getting ready to organize. There are several ways to store printed pictures. Pretty photo albums are available in tons of styles and sizes, just be sure the album is acid-free and photo safe. Some have areas for journaling to commemorate the occasion, too. Photo boxes are useful to corral or organize pictures of various sizes and can also be used to store artwork and school papers. Another clever idea is to have a service like Shutterfly or iMemories create a tabletop book from old pictures and videos. Snapping photos of school papers and artwork to be included in this book is another way to reduce that load of documents. Artist portfolios are an excellent option for keeping school papers and art together in one spot, as well. Trophies and awards can be space eaters, especially when there are many. One helpful idea is to pick a few of the most special and pack the rest away in heavy-duty containers to be stored in the basement, attic, or garage. Display the special ones on a wall shelf, shadow box, bookcase, or on freestanding shelving. You can store yearbooks in much the same way. DVDs are best to keep in containers inside the home where temperatures do not get too hot or cold.
If the existing closet works well for you, use that. If it does not, there are many systems on the market to make it more efficient. Existing dressers and chest of drawers are valuable storage if they are being kept in the room. Also, keep in mind that cloth storage bags are breathable while still maintaining clothes dust-free. Cedar-lined trunks provide great moth-free storage as well. Utilize under-the-bed storage containers if needed. Large portable cloth storage closets or racks are ideal for storing off-season clothing or an overflow of hanging attire. Have an overload of old T-shirts from travel or sports that are too sentimental to throw away? To free up space, consider having a memory quilt made from these.
Try these ideas to reconfigure that newly vacant room into a bright new area. After sorting, cleaning, and organizing, you will have a new space that is welcoming to all.