Multigenerational Home Design Ideas - Make Living Together Easier

Multigenerational Home Design Tips For Wisconsin Homeowners

Home remodeling for multiple generations is a growing trend. Whether it's young adults moving back home after college as they transition into the workforce, or parents who are moving in with their adult children to cope with aging, health issues or the loss of a spouse, the multigenerational home remodel is a way of creating a livable space for people with different habits and lifestyles. We have seen this in our country before. Prior World War II, 50 percent of homes in America were multigenerational households.

The multigenerational home is making a comeback. The 2010 census found that a full 18.3% of Americans currently live in a multigenerational home. Young adults that are known as “boomerang kids” are moving back home due to a job loss or the inability to afford housing. As our parents live longer healthier lives and with home health care options more families are consolidating rather than spending the vast sums of money required for assisted living.

Today, more American's are choosing to age-in-place, whether they stay in their own home, or move in with their grown children. Assisted living is expensive, especially when weighed against the cost of remodeling your home to make it safe and comfortable for aging parents.

Many families are remodeling their homes to create an environment that's safe for everyone who lives in the household. Designers and contractors are incorporating Universal Design elements to help accommodate three (or more) generations living under the same roof.

Let's look at some significant trends in home remodeling that accommodate and enhance a multigenerational home.

5 Design Ideas For A Multigenerational Home

To keep everyone happy living in a multigenerational home, remodeling professionals work with homeowners to address the need for privacy, space, and access of all family members, regardless of age. Universal Design is a growing trend nationally and is often an essential feature of a multigenerational home. The basic tenet is that all elements of the house should be safe, comfortable and easy to operate for every member of the household, regardless of age or ability. Here are some design ideas being incorporated into homes today.

1. Multiple Master Suites

A whole house makeover with two master suites

This whole house remodel includes a second full bathroom prepared to serve as en-suite for long term care of a family member.

Creating suites is a problem-solving concept for a multigenerational home. A master suite contains not only a bed, but also adequate storage, additional space for a desk, lounge chair or sofa, a television, and of course a private full bathroom. For older family members, creating a first-floor master suite can make stairs a thing of the past.

2. A Private Entrance

Homeowners are often adding private entries to suites to provide privacy, and access for older family members.

3. Kitchens Designed for Multiple Cooks/ Secondary Kitchens

Cooking and specific dietary needs in multigenerational homes need to be addressed. Older family members may be on restricted diets or prefer to eat on a different schedule. Often, adding a kitchenette to a master suite can accommodate parents who move in.

Remodeling the kitchen using Universal Design concepts allows family members of all ages to cook safely and comfortably Including using comfortable large pulls as instead of knobs on cabinets, better lighting, lower counters and broader passages around islands to accommodate family members who rely on a walker or wheelchair are all common design additions.

This rear porch has a private bedroom entrance.

This modest home remodel added a back porch with ADA-accessible ramp and direct entrance to the bedroom.

4. Attached Apartments

Whether it's creating a walkout basement apartment with a separate entrance, or addition on to the home, at attached apartment offers the best option for privacy in a multigenerational home. There should be a private entrance, as well as a passage into the main house. This can be an excellent solution for accommodating older family members with mobility issues or boomerang kids.

5. Bathrooms Incorporating Universal Design

A roll-in shower with a barn-style shower door

This ADA-accessible bathroom incorporates universal design for the differing abilities of both the husband and wife. A barn door is used for the shower door of the zero-entry shower.

If you're planning on a bathroom remodel or designing a new bathroom for an older family member, it is important to consider implementing universal design features. The addition of aging-in-place design elements will not only accommodate someone with mobility issues but make common sense. Grab bars in the shower, tub and toilet areas, hand-help or multi-head adjustable showers sprays, non-slip flooring, lever style handles on doors, faucets, and fixtures, wider doorways, and wheelchair accessible wall-mounted sinks will make the space more livable for older family members.

Remodeling your home to accommodate your extended family is a smart idea. The best solution is to work with a qualified designer or design-build firm that has experience with aging-in-place and universal design construction. They will have the experience, expertise and knowledge of the latest trends and technology for aging-in-place as well as an understanding of universal design principals.

When considering alterations to your home like a separate apartment or creating an in-law apartment in the basement, you may need to consult zoning laws and any restrictions. Your contractor will most likely know the rules and can work with your local zoning commission to make sure that any changes are safe and legal. 

This article was updated by Abe Degnan on 1/23/2019.

If you live in the Madison, Wisconsin area, schedule a call with the experts at Degnan Design-Build-Remodel. Let us help you to design the perfect space to meet your multigenerational housing needs. Our designers will work with you to define your needs and offer the perfect solution.