As more and more baby boomers are coming of age and looking for ways to age in place, it’s requiring some adjustments to be made in their homes so they are more accessible for them as they grow older. In fact, unlike generations before them, statistics show that instead of looking forward to moving into retirement communities, baby boomers are investing in renovation ideas that support their goals of aging in place.
This movement is also causing many households to become multigenerational, with families desiring to take care of aging parents, or adult children who move back home after college to save money. In fact almost 65 million Americans are living in multi-generational homes today where grandparents, parents and kids all are living under the same roof. That may seem like a lot to manage, but there are some best practices when it comes to remodeling and designing a home that makes sense for everyone living there. When designing and remodeling homes with multiple generations in mind, consider privacy, accessibility, comfort and convenience to transform the home into one that everyone enjoys.
With 3 out of every 7 Americans expected to be aged 65+ by 2060, you can bet this is a growing trend and much needed expertise in the home renovation industry. As Boomers look for ways to stay in their homes as long as possible or look to move in with their adult children, families will need professionals who are knowledgeable in updating their homes to allow for an easier and safer lifestyle. From kitchen and bathroom remodels, to closet renovations, the addition of task lighting, grab bars, flooring updates and more, multigenerational families are looking for solutions to help make their homes safe and secure for as long as possible. Special design considerations that promote safety, accessibility, and independence will give homeowners options that work for everyone, while also adding value to their home.
Make It Accessible
A main focus for a multigenerational home is accessibility. It’s important to plan for the future as grandparents age and may need help getting around. Experts recommend starting with creating extra room to move around. The home should have additional clearance around all doorways and walkways.
Open concept layouts are ideal in these situations, while configuring bedrooms so that everyone can reach their private living spaces easily (think putting older residents on the main floor) means everyone can remain as independent as possible. In the kitchen, cabinets should not be difficult to reach; in general upper cabinets should be placed around three inches lower than normal. Lower cabinets should include lots of drawers or pull-out shelf features that maximize easy to reach storage, while multi-level countertops are also convenient for sitting or standing in the kitchen. Shallow sinks with touch faucets; pull-out pantry shelves, and rounded edges are all additional items that will add value to an aging in place kitchen remodel.
Think about privacy
Privacy is a big deal in a multigenerational home. Think about it, people that are used to living on their own are suddenly sharing a living environment. One of the biggest places you can offer privacy with bedrooms and bathrooms. Having one or two bedrooms on the main floor can create a natural separation between generations. While it might feel natural to put all of the bedrooms on the second floor level, putting a few on the main floor offers extra privacy and some breathing room. Also make sure every generation feels like they have a common area space in the home. By including a living room, reading area, bonus room, and playroom you ensure everyone has their own area to do what they love. In the bathroom, especially for seniors living in your home, consider renovations such as comfort-height toilets, lower bathroom vanities and cabinets, and removing the tub to allow for a larger, no curb shower for added safety and convenience purposes.
Make your space count
When you have six or more people living in a home, every inch counts, so when remodeling, consider even the smallest of spaces. When it comes to closets, make sure there is enough storage and maybe consider adding a second linen closet or kitchen pantry. Include family members in the remodeling planning and design process so they feel as though their needs are met as well. Try and think of spaces as dual purpose so you are ready to convert them if necessary. Don’t forget some of those less-utilized areas of the home such as the garage, backyard shed, attic, and basement. If you consider how you can best utilize those spaces as a family, you’ll find you’ll have more storage and living spaces. Finally, don’t forget to consider how everyone leaves and enters the home. Different generations mean different schedules so it might be best to include separate entrances if possible.