America is witnessing a new trend known as “multigenerational living”, with more grandparents moving in with their kids, or alternatively, millennials returning home to their parents. Indeed, the trend is so big that one estimate from the Pew Research Center shows that 18.8 percent of the U.S. population – 57 million – now live in a multigenerational family home.
With such a prevailing trend it’s no surprise that home builders are starting to pay attention. And as a result, many are changing their design options to accommodate those who wish to reside with multiple generations under a single roof.
An article in the Huffington Post recently highlighted some of the key elements that home designers are adding to multigenerational homes in order to meet their unique needs.
One of the top new features is open access – which means ensuring access for every generation, including those who might need a wheelchair or a walker. This is done by making hallways and doorways larger, and by babyproofing kitchens for younger children.
Another top design trend is to have more than one master bedroom. With more aging parents moving in with their kids, many homeowners desire a second master suite with its own bathroom. This allows mom and dad to feel as if they’re intruding less.
An alternative to this is what’s called an “in-law suite”. Essentially, this is a mini-apartment within the home, that usually comes with its own entrance and a separate kitchen. A 2013 study by the National Association of Realtors shows that over half of buyers aged 55 and above would consider paying more for a home that has an in-law suite. However, homeowners need to be aware of local zoning laws, which may sometimes restrict their plans to build an in-law suite.
Privacy is also important, because returning parents and kids don’t want to feel as if they’re constantly intruding. One way of creating more privacy for residents is to zone the living areas in the home, so that one space can be used for multiple functions, and accommodate multiple generations at the same time.