Would you redo a room for someone who no longer lives in your house? I did, for my daughter, now 19, and a college student in Wisconsin. The revamped room was a surprise when she came home for Thanksgiving.

I got the idea from junk style diva Ki Nassauer (www.junkrevolution.com). During an interview, she mentioned transforming her own college student daughter's room as a surprise. I filed that thought, and it bubbled up when I entered empty-nest mode myself, a few years later.

My daughter's room really hadn't suited her for some time. When we moved into our house (she was 6), she picked out a white metal bunkbed that we found on clearance. It clashed with the room's dark, traditional woodwork, but she liked it and the price was right. A few years later -- during her periwinkle phase -- we collaborated on a two-tone paint job using the "Wooly Roller," then used a cut-up sponge to create a border of stars.

Gradually, she grew up. The room didn't. It still looked like a little girl's room (and kind of an ugly one), with its childish paint job and hodgepodge of mismatched furniture. I always intended to update it, but never got around to it. When she was in high school, I suggested we at least shop for a new bed. But she, ever practical, declined. "Why waste money on that? I'll be gone in a year and a half."

I felt empty when she said that. I felt even emptier when she left for college and I confronted her sad, lifeless room. It didn't look like a place a  young adult would want to even visit, much less live in for a whole summer. I decided to change that.

Money was tight, with college costs now in our budget, but I had time to hunt for bargains. The white bunkbed was replaced with a bronze-y iron daybed. New occasional tables and wall art added some grown-up flair. I repainted the room in hottest pink, her favorite color.

Working on the room was therapy for missing her daily presenece. And when she came home for the holiday, I couldn't wait for her to go upstairs. She was shocked, then thrilled. "I can't believe it," she kept saying. The next morning, she posted a picture of her new room on Facebook and sent it via cell phone to her friends.

Maybe some day we'll turn that room into an office or a craft room. But for now, it's hers. Finally.

What did you do with your kids' rooms after they left home?