Designing a home to serve big families

LifeStage Home Designs  |  March 14, 2019
Designing a home to serve big families

A variety of factors are encouraging a rising number of extended families to choose to live together. The explosion in the cost of higher education and the resulting student loan debt has created a tide of adult children moving back in with their parents after graduation while they pay off student loans and attempt to build a career. At the other end of the spectrum, elderly parents increasingly are living with their children to avoid the high cost of assisted living and long-term care while enjoying the benefits of living with family in their golden years. This means more families than ever have all three generations living under the same roof.

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While multi-generational living is ingrained in many cultures and parts of the world, its rise in the United States is, by comparison, a new phenomenon. And while many single-family residences have enough square footage to accommodate extended families, most families discover they don’t work well for their needs unless they were designed (or renovated) with multi-generational living in mind.

Here are some design choices that differentiate multi-generational homes from a typical single-family residence, all of which can make extended families living together much happier:

  • Multiple master suites, preferably on the ground floor. It is important for grandparents to have their own master suite with a private bedroom and bathroom and ample closet space. A second-story master suite is a good choice for younger adult children, especially if they are married.
  • Separate living units with dedicated entrances. Think of these as master suites on steroids. In addition to a bedroom and bathroom, they feature a kitchenette, possibly a small living room or den and often their own separate entrance.
  • Connections within the home. While a grandparents’ suite or adult child’s living unit might have its own entrance, a differentiator between a multi-generational home and a multi-family structure such as a duplex is all the home's suites or living units are connected and enjoy easy access to the entire home.
  • Large shared spaces. Multiple generations under the same roof can mean a lot of people. While the home may have two or more master suites or living units, it is important for the shared spaces in the home — such as the main living room, kitchen and dining space — to be designed to accommodate a large number of people at once.
  • Flexible spaces. Separate living units are important for multi-generational homes, but you may want to reimagine that space one day as your family’s needs change (or when it comes time to sell). A master suite today may need to become a nursery or a home office down the road, so don’t go overboard customizing the space with special additions that aren’t easily undone.

Have questions about multi-generational home design? We’d love to help you get started. Check out our library of flexible home designs or contact us today!

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LifeStage Home Designs can work with you to develop the home of your dreams. Simply find a plan that you like, then talk to our expert designers to add the features your family needs – whether that’s a larger garage, an elevator, an enclosed porch, or more.

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If you’re ready to buy a house plan or are just starting to research universal design options, we’re happy to answer your questions. Our design experts can help you choose a home plan that suits your needs – for accessibility, aging in place, multigenerational living or long-term investment.

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