The Empty Nester Shift: Do We Stay or Build A New Home?

Ispiri Remodeling Condo

Presented by: Ispiri Logo

Should we stay or should we go? That is the question for many empty-nesters today. Should they stay in their current home or move? Many times, a list of pros includes friends and neighbor connections that have developed over the years, the memories that have been established and created in the home, and the hope for their kids to one day bring their own families to visit Grandma and Grandpa in the house that helped build them.

On the “cons” side of staying in the house, the list often includes a floor plan in need of some serious TLC, a home—and yard—that’s too big for two people to maintain, and the desire for convenient main-level living.

If you’ve ever seen the popular real estate and design HGTV show Love It or List It, then you’ve seen the dilemma these homeowners face. In many cases, once a home has been transformed into “something they could never have imagined,”—even when it may still be lacking some seemingly “must-have” elements they see in new homes—their emotional connection prevails and they “love it” after all.

More often than not, this is what brings homeowners to us. It’s hard to imagine the unimaginable, especially when a homeowner sees frustration building upon frustration in their current home. This is where our guidance and expertise come into play; taking our clients step-by-step through the design and renovation (construction) process to create design solutions that once seemed unimaginable.


When the emotional attachment to the home does not prevail, a homeowner might choose to downsize, placing importance on conveniences. Sometimes, this means moving to a suburban townhome; other times it means completely uprooting and shifting to the condo lifestyle.

One of our current clients decided the move from a house in Woodbury to Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood was the right empty-nester move for them. As one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Minneapolis, this neighborhood is filled with the character of old warehouse buildings, cobblestone roads, and a variety of restaurants, brewpubs, and entertainment options, close to the action of downtown, yet still on the outskirts. The North Loop is attractive to those who want the “downtown lifestyle” without the hustle and bustle of being right in the mix.

According to Ispíri Client Tammie Thorsen, it wasn’t an easy decision to pick up and leave the friends they’d made—not to mention a house filled with sentimental family memories—but “we had a strong desire for a lot of things that weren’t possible in our current home,” she says. In 10 years, the couple wanted to be spending more time at their cabin and down South, and “we saw the growing importance of downsizing to a rambler and a main-level master suite,” Tammie says. They didn’t want to invest in major updates on their current home when they knew they weren’t going to be there for the long-term, and liked the idea of having the freedom of locking their doors and leaving without worrying about yard maintenance or stopping the mail any time they headed out of town. “After purchasing our condo, we still found ourselves at Ispíri to incorporate our style and a design specific to our needs and desires,” she says. “We are confident that after the remodel is complete, our new home will deliver on all aspects of our pros and cons list.”

Unless the homeowner is moving to a newly constructed home, a house or condo can need updates to reflect the new homeowners’ lifestyle and design aesthetic. When an Ispíri Design Consultant is involved in the process, he or she can help guide clients to stay—based on the remodeling opportunities within their current home—or go (purchase a prospective home based on the options available). There are several key questions and topics the consultants go through with clients to help them feel confident about their decision. If a consultant has not been present in the decision-making process, the key discovery topics would still be a discussion point early on to help guide the design.

Factors to consider when making the decision to stay or go:

  • What is the driving factor for staying in your home or moving?
  • What is your driving factor for your remodel?
  • How will this remodel change your quality of life moving forward?
  • Can the most important items on both sides of your list be provided if you stay and remodel or if you choose to move and remodel?


Key ways a design-build firm can help accomplish your dreams

With the guidance and assistance of a design-build firm, such as Ispíri, homeowners benefit from the experience of specialized design experts working together, with the primary focus on preserving the vision and desires of the client. By working with a collaborative team made up of design consultants, a licensed architect, interior designers, a certified kitchen designer and project management all in-house, clients not only get a wealth of experience and talent working on their project, but small details are less likely to be missed or miscommunicated when traveling from an architectural firm to a design firm to the contractor.

Thorsen CAD of Home Interior

Overall, one housing option is not “better” than the other. It strictly comes down to what our clients are looking to gain and experience in the future. It’s important for us to figure out what the driving factor(s) were for our clients when they sought our services in the first place, in order for us to develop a clear understanding of what has driven them to remodel or transform their home to accomplish the home of their dreams. This is a large financial—and emotional—investment and we want to ensure that when we are finished with their project, they believe wholeheartedly that they made the perfect decision.



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