Designing Your Home for All Generations

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Are you thinking of inviting your aging parents to live with you? Perhaps your adult children have returned to the nest. You’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 20 percent of the U.S. population—64 million—lived with multiple generations under one roof in 2016. Financial and healthcare factors are primary drivers. Families also are recognizing the benefits of stronger intergenerational ties (and built-in babysitters!). The stigma of moving home has faded as well. In fact, the number of young adults aged 18-34 living with parents is now the highest it has been in more than 130 years.

If a multigenerational household is on your horizon, consider these tips.

Incorporate aging in place guidelines. 

In “Don’t Retire Your House. Retire WITH Your House,” we discussed how to prepare your home for aging in place. The same guidelines apply here, such as single-level living, wider doorways, and accessible bathrooms.

Plan for both common spaces and private spaces.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

People need quiet spaces where they can retreat, especially when they’re living with a larger group. Families create private zones in multiple ways; for example, attic master suites with bathrooms, mother-in-law apartments with separate entrances, and designated spaces, such as converted attics for teen hangouts.

Survey stairs, ramps, and elevators. 

Assess how people currently access your home from the outdoors. Is it wheelchair accessible? Do icy sidewalks change the situation in winter? In addition, consider how people move between floors, and whether an elevator might be needed in the future. Some homeowners plan for this by creating stacked closets that can be converted into elevator shafts.

North Oaks (55127)
Elevator/Access Bath

Plot out parking and garage space. 

Garage space and parking places can spark lively discussions as drivers and their vehicles join the household. Tally up the number of vehicles that will be in the combined household, and determine which will be in a garage, under a carport, or on the street. It may make sense to add another bay or extra depth to an existing garage or to build a tuck-under garage if your house sits on a hill. If you choose to build or expand a garage, it may also give you an opportunity to add a studio apartment above it.

Creating a space for multigenerational living is a wonderful puzzle to solve. We’d love to help you explore the options for your family.


Give John a call at 612-861-0188 or fill out our Getting Started Form if you’d like to explore possibilities for your own update!