What is Multigenerational Home Design And Its Benefits for Families?

    If you are considering having your parents live with you as they age, or have adult children and their family join you in your home, you are not alone. What was the norm in previous eras is quietly becoming more prevalent again. During the pandemic, some families were unable to visit each other. Others found out quickly what it was like to live as multiple generations under one roof. Now we get requests frequently to help families navigate the challenges of creating a space that works for everyone.

    How realistic is it to consider multigenerational living as a solution for aging in place? It is a concept that has certainly gained momentum in recent years. Pew Research shows that a full 20% of the US population lived in such arrangements before the pandemic, and that trend has only escalated. Multigenerational living can be beneficial to all, helping aging parents remain independent, while grandchildren have more adult supervision close by. Yet such arrangements require balancing privacy needs with needs for safety for elders as they age. What should be thought through when considering a home renovation where people feel comfortable together and, at the same time, independent in the house?

    Is a Multigenerational Home Right for My Family?

    Having family of all ages living together is not for everyone, but it can be a perfect solution for families concerned about aging parents. What are the biggest considerations as decisions are made regarding multigenerational living?

    Personalities can either mesh or clash. Families need to consider how they live. For instance, what are various family member’s expectations regarding neatness? What are people’s tolerance levels for noise, activity, the need for quiet time, and private space? On the other hand, what is the desire for interaction, connection, and “togetherness”? 

    A good multigenerational home design will take those human factors into consideration. Multigenerational home design is about living together but with clear boundaries.


    Multigenerational Home Design Ideas

    When people come to us for advice, the first question is, “Where is space for extended family going to come from?” There are three main choices. One can either modify current space, build an addition, or build new.


    What kinds of modifications are available to help facilitate multigenerational living? There are many options. If space allows, a home can be modified so there is one floor for aging parents–perhaps a first floor or walk-out basement–and a floor for children and grandchildren. This is an excellent way to balance proximity and privacy.

    The big need when another generation is moving in is for bedroom space. If you have a living room that does not get much use, this room and the adjoining space can be transformed into an in-law suite. 

    It is wise to think about aging-in-place modifications, especially where steps up and down, flights of stairs, and bathrooms are concerned. Installing hand grips and showers without an edge to step over are just a few ways to make navigating the home easier for those with mobility challenges.


    The idea here is to gain an extra bedroom, ideally with an ensuite bathroom, along with more and better designed common area space. If your existing footprint is too small to simply modify, an addition may be necessary to create the space needed for the privacy of all family members.

    New Construction

    With zoning and financial limits to building an addition in many metro DC neighborhoods, new construction might make more sense. Bringing multiple families together means you might have an expanded budget, especially if one family is selling a home to make this multigenerational dream a reality. This is an opportunity to build a home to suit everyone’s needs.

    New construction zoning could allow buildings in such a way that has attached or detached “apartment” structures with multiple private entrances. A knowledgeable design-build firm will be able to help make the best use of a single piece of property.


    What Could a Multigenerational Home Renovation Look Like?

    Every family is different, so every renovation or build is unique. Here are two examples of homes that were remodeled to accommodate multigenerational living.

    Renovating for the Future

    One of our clients bought a home in a development. The home had a large kitchen and family room that needed updating to accommodate multiple generations and future plans for aging in place. They customized the island to have a seating area that was table height and easier to sit at. Also, the island supplanted the need for a table and therefore saved space in the room to accommodate the parents and their adult children. 

    The home had a bedroom above the garage featuring an ensuite bathroom with a tub. To modify for aging in place, they removed the bathtub and installed a walk-in shower. This is an excellent example of a principle we try to instill in clients. If this is your “forever home” think about how you will want to use it in the future, and plan accordingly.

    In-Law Suite

    A client requested an In-law suite addition to a home in a Washington DC suburb. When the client came to us originally, the discussion focused on an addition to gain two more bedrooms. The idea was to make the house more comfortable for his parents when they visited, with the thought that they might want to come live with him. He wanted to have a nice guest suite for them plus another guest bedroom.   

    The original idea changed after the man’s wife passed away, and his children came to live with him. Since the cost of adding space has gone up so much in the DC area it made more sense at this point to remodel existing space if at all possible rather than expand and add additional square footage. We were able to remodel existing space to make it more usable and accommodate added family members. 

    Making Multigenerational Home Renovation a Reality

    There are so many reasons to consider multigenerational living; it’s a way to be there for each other and help each other as family members. There is no single “best” way to remodel for this unique purpose. Creating a space that meets everyone’s needs can be done, but it takes clear planning and the right design-build partner.

    To learn more about remodeling for multigenerational living and the design-build process, download our eBook titled "Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safetyto get an in-depth understanding. If you are considering a home renovation, please feel free to schedule a home renovation discovery session with Gilday today.

    Homeowner's Remodeling Guide To Age In Place With Style, Comfort And Safety


    Leave a comment