Like some of our favorite television families, many of us have multiple generations living together under one roof. According to the Pew Research Center, multigenerational households have been on the rise since 1980. Spurred by the financial impacts of the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the growth of multigenerational homes continued even as the economy improved. And by 2016, one in five Americans were living in a multigenerational household. With the economic and health challenges the nation and many families face from Covid 19, it is likely for multigenerational living to continue.

Multigenerational households consist of two adult generations or of grandparents and grandchildren under 25 years old living together. The benefits of this living arrangement are plentiful, including increased family time, shared household expenses, assistance with chores and household tasks, and decreased isolation. Some young adults are moving back in with their parents to allow them to save for their own home or to pay off student loans more quickly. College students facing steep tuition bills for college courses that have moved online during the Coronavirus pandemic may opt to stay at home to save money and to decrease their student loan accruals. And then there is the “sandwich generation” which has aging parents moving in while their own children are still at home. Whatever the reasons, families opting to live with multiple generations under one roof can face the challenge of less having space and privacy. Luckily, there are design solutions to assist with these challenges!

Ideas for living together peacefully:

  • Creating more livable space begins with creating accessible spaces. Providing pathways around furniture and wider hallways which allow for a walker, stroller or wheelchair allows for safe and easy mobility.
  • Choosing a home with multiple bathrooms, or adding a bathroom to an existing home, eases crowding and frustrations with morning and evening routines. Bedrooms on separate levels of the home provide a natural separation between generations and create privacy.
  • Converting basements, garages, attics, or storage rooms into bedrooms or living rooms provides additional usable living space.
  • Creating a “suite” with a bedroom, bathroom and even a small kitchenette or living space allows extra privacy.
  • Separate entrances are another popular design choice for families to strike a balance between independence and cohabitation.

New construction offers the most flexibility for designing multigenerational spaces. Between accessory dwelling units (ADUs), in-law flats, additions, and custom homes, it is possible to thoughtfully design the placement of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living rooms. However, whether you are renovating your current home or building a new one, keeping an eye on your family’s future needs is key. A CAPS (certified aging in place specialist) professional can help anticipate the needs of varied age groups. Together, a design team can assist with intentional choices to maximize harmonious and convenient multigenerational living.

RES Aging In Place Team

If you are building a home or planning to remodel your multigenerational home, look to Residential Engineering Services + Design (RES) to lead you through the planning process. RES utilizes Universal Design and Aging in Place concepts in all our designs. We will meet with you to plan, design, and engineer a home to live in for a lifetime. Contact us today.