Having the family together doesn’t have to happen once a year, nor does it have to mean being in each others’ faces all the time. In fact, many families all over the world actually prefer to have multiple generations living under one roof.
Creating secondary living spaces
The key to living this way successfully is by creating enough space around communal areas where all members are able to come together, whilst still reserving personal spaces for them to retreat to. This could look like large, open-planned communal areas like living rooms or kitchens as primary spaces, and intimate secondary nooks for when a family member is craving a little more solitude.
These spaces aren’t always obvious, especially when you don’t have the room or budget to build an entirely new living area. In cases like these, it helps to think outside of the box – literally. Think small patios to escape to, where one can enjoy a cup of tea. Or, even utilising larger areas, like transforming a garage into a teen hangout spot.
Not only will adding these dedicated secondary spaces make everyone feel more at home, but they could also help to avoid certain family conflicts. For example, keeping the chill areas for teens and grandparents separate, might prevent things like noise disturbances or breaking boundaries surrounding privacy.
Planning and zoning
When it comes to either transforming your existing home or looking for an entirely new one, planning and zoning should be the focus of your attention. If you get the layout of your home down correctly, all the other aspects of what makes a multigenerational home work will fall into place – as briefly mentioned above.
If possible, opt to have bedrooms for each generation on opposite ends of the house. For example, having the kiddos on one side of the house and the golden oldies on the other. In addition, it will help to allocate a dedicated bathroom to each bedroom – if you can afford it. This way, each member can take their time as well as alter their bathroom to suit their specific needs.
You may also want to consider separate entrances where family members can come and go as they please, or even building a tiny home for your grandparents in your backyard if you have the time, money and space.
Evaluating your home’s ease of mobility
If your home has more than one floor, be sure to place older generations on the bottom floor so that they don’t have to take the stairs. Alternatively, invest in a stairlift or house lift to create the most dynamically mobile-friendly environment possible.
You’ll also want to make sure that you leave enough room or clear pathways for getting from one room to the next, especially if anyone in your family uses a mobility aid like a wheelchair or walker.
Adding lighting to these areas also helps to increase the ease of movement within a home, not only for older generations but for the kids, too. Where possible, be sure to opt for lighting that doesn’t have any hanging cords. This way, your family will be better protected against any accidents caused by tripping or falling.
Something else which may slip one’s mind when creating a comfortable home is the simple doorknob. Choosing door handles over doorknobs, for example, can help those with arthritis or injuries gain leverage on them using their elbows or arms.
Revisiting your kitchen and bathroom setup
Last but not least, be sure to revisit your kitchen and bathroom setup to ensure they are comfortable and safe to use for everyone. This could mean having adjustable workbenches in the kitchen or simply having a couple installed at different heights. This way, the entire family will be able to share an active role in the heart of the home.
Bathrooms might need safety bars installed, shower chairs added or shelving readjusted. It may also help to install tap handles which, as mentioned, act as levels rather than knobs, making them easier on sore joints or tiny hands. These can become especially slippery when they’re wet.
As always, be sure to create clear entryways with as much open space as possible. This is particularly important should you or someone you love need assistance in the bathroom.
Ultimately, all families are unique. When planning your home, don’t forget to seek guidance straight from the source – your family members. You may even find that they add their own pinch of charm, one which you may never have thought of.