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September 2016

5 Tips for Making “Sandwich Living” Work

Did you know that sandwiches are trending these days? Not the delicious kind... we mean the "sandwich generation" – adults that have both their children and their parents living in their home.

The number of families with children, parents and grandparents living together has risen from 3.6% of all U.S. households in 2006 to 4.3% in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means that in 2014 a record 60.6 million people (19% of the U.S. population) lived in a multigenerational household. The reasons for this trend are pretty simple. Our population is aging, and our kids are growing up in a world where it's harder to achieve and sustain financial independence.

Photo: universal design bathroom remodeling

You'll be glad to know that there can be benefits, such as lower housing costs for all and sharing household chores. But to make this type of living arrangement work, you have to look at your home a bit differently. For example, you may have to take into account things like:

  • Privacy issues unique to multi-family living
  • Safety and accessibility for younger and older family members
  • Getting the best use of the space in your home now and in the future

So, what can you do to get your house ready for multigenerational living?

1) Integrate Universal Design: Universal design focuses on making living areas accessible to all – young, old, and every age in between, as well as people with disabilities. Using universal design principles is a great idea, even if you just plan on living in your house as empty-nesters as long as possible. Consider making doorways wider to allow easier access for wheelchairs or baby strollers. Install faucets, door knobs, and drawer pulls that pass what's referred to as the "closed fist test." If you can open the door or drawer with your fist closed, it is likely that someone with arthritis will be able to use it. This might mean a lever-type handle for a door, or a single handle or touchless faucet.

2) Finish Your Basement: Finishing a basement is one of the most cost effective ways to increase the usable living space in your home. Not only will this give you more living space now, such as an entertainment room, play room, home office, or workout room, but it could double as a bedroom for your potential housemates. Include a full bathroom so there's an extra shower. If you plan on using your basement as a bedroom, be sure to keep in mind building codes, which generally require a door to the outside or a below-grade egress window that has built-in stairs.

Photo: basement remodeling

3) Remodel Your Kitchen: In addition to integrating universal design principles into your kitchen, there are other ways you can make your kitchen more adaptable to multigenerational living. Adding a second sink and more counter space, such as an island, makes it easier for multiple cooks to work at the same time. A second dishwasher or refrigerator also help meet the needs of more people under one roof.

4) Build an Addition: If you are definitely planning for a multigenerational household, consider putting on an addition. This will not only give you more space, but will give both you and your live-in family members more privacy. In addition to the necessities of a bedroom and full bathroom, a private entrance and small kitchenette go a long way towards making someone feel like they really have their own place.

5) Think and Plan Ahead: If you would like to stay in your home for as long as possible, think ahead when modifying your home for multigenerational living. If you are putting an addition on your home's main level, consider designing it so that it can be used as a home office, exercise room or your master bedroom suite in the future.

If you are thinking of remodeling your home to take advantage of a "sandwich" home living arrangement, let us know. We can help you figure out ways to modify your home so that the experience and the results are the best they can be...for everyone.

Maintenance Tip: Protect Landscaping Materials from Damage by Deer

Fall is the time of year that deer tend to move closer to residential areas. Adequate fencing is the only sure way to control deer damage with a deer-proof fence that is 8 feet high and made of woven wire. But here are a few other tips to help prevent damage they can cause:

  • Don't provide feed for the deer. It doesn't keep them from harming your plants and may even attract them.
  • Select landscaping plants that are less palatable to deer and place more susceptible species closest to the home.
  • Netting or tubing are efficient methods for protecting seedlings and small trees.
  • If using repellents, treat young trees completely. Older trees require treatment only on new growth. A home-made spray of eggs and water can be effective.
Photo: farm in Georgia
The Captain's farm north of Atlanta

What's the Story?

I like the talk about Sandwiches. I can relate. Both of my sons lived with us for a period of time – Peter, to complete his 5th year of engineering school (I like to say he finished early on the 6-year plan) and my other son, Marc, lived with us during his graduate school in Chiropractic studies. It was a great time in our lives and fun for both generations. I distinctly remember the importance of Monday Night Football as an event we did not miss...

And as noted in the article, Universal Design is important in all projects, but specifically if you are going to remodel for older parents. We do incorporate universal design in all our projects. Why not?

I took a weekend trip to Atlanta to visit my friend's farm in late August. He is building a wonderful modern "farmhouse" in the northern mountains of Georgia. It was great to check it out after talking about it for years.

Photo: Quilt   Photo: the quilters
What a quilt!     The Quilters, and support staff 

September has already been an exciting month. After hosting my wife's quilting friends at our cabin for 5 days, we were blessed with the arrival of our first grandchild!!! Julia Madeline Sylvestre arrived as we were madly driving home from our cabin after the quilting weekend. (Just ask me for the Long Playing version if you want to hear a story.) Luckily – we made it in time for her initial introduction to the family due to a last minute Caesarian delivery and recovery for her mom, Mary. Both are doing fine. No, actually they are wonderful.

photo: granddaughter
Julia about 2 hours old

Somehow I don't think I will have a problem of finding photos for the newsletter for a while. To all of our friends who have grandchildren and shared how great it is to be grandparents, I agree that it is great and beyond words.

The leaves are turning and the temperatures are getting cooler. Enjoy these great fall days.

John Sylvestre

Until next month,

John Sylvestre
Phone: 612-861-0188

Sylvestre Remodeling & Design