The past few decades have seen a steady decline in the nuclear family model of households and in the past ten years alone, multi-generational living has almost quadrupled! Today, 1 in 4 American adults are living in a multi-generational household, and that number is expected to rise! It’s no surprise why – we are in a time where younger generations are seeing less overall wealth, financial stability, housing security, and economic mobility than previous generations. As we see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming years, some predict that the crisis will end the nuclear family norm.
At GreenRose Design & Build, we see some trends in multi-generational housing that we’d like to share.
Accessible means design that works for everyone. In your home, this may include open concept spaces so that multiple people can move through rooms freely at the same time. And for wheelchair users or people with mobility concerns, consider larger hallways & doorways, as well as bedrooms & baths accessible on one floor without using stairs. Even the little things matter. Consider touch-free fixtures or hardware that can be used with a closed fist for less germs & ease of use by all, including the elders! Is the shower curb preventing anyone from getting in easily? Make it barrier free like the curbless shower shown on the right!
2. Dual-purpose Design
Dual-purpose design is the idea of one space offering multiple functions. This can mean one room that functions as two, like a bedroom that is also a home office (like the room pictured on the left) or a basement that’s a family room & also a bedroom for someone returning to the “nest”. Or it can mean a piece of furniture that can be used in multiple ways, like a futon or a murphy bed, also shown in the picture on the left behind the white cabinet! Implementation of multipurpose design allows for spaces in your home to have flexibility in their use, which is helpful as the needs of a multi-generational home shift, circumstances change, or people age.
In the case of the new large family, sometimes full additions to a home may be needed. This addition might be used as a separate living space, complete with a kitchen & bedroom, an office, or just one or two more bedrooms. And sometimes, it just needs an extension of a space in the house, like building out and creating a larger kitchen & new dining & family room combination. These offer more room and allow for more opportunities to have a personal space in a home shared by many.
4. Private Spaces
Speaking of personal space, making room for private areas is a must for multi-generational households. One good rule of thumb is to have one dedicated living space per generation. Each generation is in a different stage of life and therefore has different needs and schedules. This guide allows for some separation when necessary that mimics more of the household living situations you see outside of multi-generational spaces (young people rooming together in apartments, parents having their own space away from kids and living away from their own parents, etc). Bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms also prevent arguments and they accommodate different work & life schedules. Even some soundproofing can make a difference in providing comfort, privacy, and personal freedom without worry of disrupting other people’s routines.
5. Converting & Remodeling
If you have a house that you are looking to turn into a multi-generational-friendly home, consider converting rooms you already have! For example, basement conversions offer lots of possibilities as a separate living space, especially if you add a separate entrance that allows people to enter these spaces from the outside without having to go through the main house*. But if you can’t convert a room, you can always do smaller remodeling projects. This can include constructing a kitchenette in a bedroom or living room, creating more counter space, or adding an extra sink in the kitchen.
*Caveat, this must have either a door or a large enough window for legal egress
These are only some of the ways interior design can accommodate multi-generational households. Do you live in a multi-generational household? In what ways does your home design help or hinder your living situation? What changes would you make to your home to adapt to your new household? Show us what changes you’ve made through our instagram or our facebook page! Check out our website for some of our work and other blog posts!