While a family home still typically consists of parents and children only, over the last couple of decades, the dynamics have changed significantly in the U.S.
Today, more than 64 million Americans – which is about 20% of the population – live in multigenerational households, otherwise defined as having two or more adult generations, or grandparents and grandchildren under the age of 25, in the same home.
As you can imagine, fitting more people into a house that probably wasn’t designed to accommodate them can be challenging. Fortunately, with the right remodel, everybody can peacefully coexist. If you’re planning to move your parents in with you, or if it looks like your post-college kids will be sticking around for a while, here are some ways to make things comfortable for everyone.
Provide enough individual space
Even people in the closest of families need their own space, but this doesn’t mean that family members should have to retreat to their bedrooms to get some alone time. Specific spaces in the home can be both private and shared. For example, in the same house at the same time, parents can watch TV in the living room, grandparents can read in the den, and the kids can play in the basement playroom. For older children, you may even consider transitioning the basement into more of a digital playroom, or their own apartment.
But don’t ignore communal spots
One of the best things about having so many family members living together is the ability to spend quality time with one another. And because the kitchen is usually the hub of any home, it should be big enough for the whole brood, whether you’re sitting down for a meal or just hanging out. The living room is also a common area for folks to gather, so it should also be large enough to seat everyone comfortably.
Think outside the house
Not every gathering place in your house necessarily needs to be in your house. If space is tight inside, it might make sense to expand outward, and a deck could be the perfect solution. In addition to being a great place to enjoy nice days (and perhaps cook up some burgers on the grill), adding a fire pit, hot tub, or other outdoor features to your deck may end up making it the most popular hangout spot for everyone.
While access isn’t typically a problem for parents and children, older people can have a difficult time moving around a house. Therefore, it’s important to think about the places older generations may need to access and if they’ll have trouble getting there. Putting bedrooms on the first floor, for example, can prevent older family members from having to go up and downstairs. It’s also important that hallways and doors have enough clearance room for wheelchairs. Shower seats and grab bars in bathrooms are also good ideas.
Add separate living quarters
Just because everybody is under one roof doesn’t mean that you can’t live independently. Creating things like an in-law suite for the older generation, or a basement apartment for the younger folks, can give everyone a sense of freedom. Separate entrances are also a popular option because they give early risers and late-night returners the autonomy to come and go as they please without bothering those who aren’t on their schedule.
Don’t forget the garage
With three (or more) generations under one roof, there are generally a lot of cars to house, too. An attached garage traditionally fits up to three cars, so you may consider opting for a detached garage and maybe even expanding the driveway to fit more vehicles.
Think about the future
The most-needed rooms in multigenerational homes are bedrooms. Even if you don’t have a lot of square footage for communal space, family members should have their own rooms. Therefore, it is important to think about designing spaces for dual purposes.
Let’s say you want to build a home gym, but you’ll need to refurbish your basement to do it. That’s all well and good, but what if in a year or five years from now you suddenly need another bedroom for somebody? If you didn’t renovate your basement with a bedroom in mind, you might have to undertake another remodel to add a conforming window or a closet. Remember, it is much easier to transform a bedroom into another room than the other way around.
Even if you don’t have a lot of room to work with (or a big budget), you can find ways to make homework for multiple generations. Think about the spaces that aren’t being used efficiently, or even at all, such as the attic, which could actually be converted into a bedroom. Maybe you can turn your garage into another living space. Perhaps you even have a walk-in closet that could temporarily be used as a child’s bedroom. More often than not, the best solutions come from creative thinking.
While many different generations living together may not be ideal for everyone in the family, it doesn’t have to be stressful, and a renovation or home addition can help make things a lot easier.
If you’re looking to make some changes to your home, whether for an immediate or future need, get in touch with Tandem Contracting. Tell us what you want to accomplish, and we will help you come up with the best solution. To get started, call us at 973-864-3100 or drop us a line through our online form.