A new U.S. trend, Multi-Generational Homing… [part 2]
…parents, grandparents, and more living under the same roof.
by: Laura A. Meck, Interior Designer
Cornerstone Design Partners
Earlier this month we published a blog on multi-generational homing, and honestly we didn’t expect this to be a blog series, we just wanted to open the door to looking at multi-generational housing and share with you how you can make it work with your current home, give a few tips and tricks and move on to the next topic. The response and questions we received were (almost) overwhelming. So, we’ve added a “part 2” – not sure that there will be more to this series or not, but, depending on the response again, we’re happy to keep the dialogue going.
We’re going to take a Q&A approach to respond to the questions that were asked by multiple people. If we haven’t answered your question here, either PM us or give us a call.
Q: My home already seems to be at capacity, even though our college student is only home on breaks. Our storage is minimal, but we want to help my mother-in-law by having her move in. Do you have any suggestions?
A: I did a little further digging; the families are similar in that they (2 adults / 1 college student / 1 adult child -married with 2 kids / 1 or 2 parents to move in potentially) have bi-level home / ranch homes with each having a finished basement. The finished basement has become a “storage” locker for the adult child(ren) and the college student(s). Without having seen the homes (we did receive a couple photos) the first suggestion is to de-clutter. If the stuff is important and you can’t part with it, but do need the additional living space, check out options to rent storage (storage unit / PODs / etcetera). This gives you significantly more square footage to work with. When looking at a full basement – have the adult children come to the home and help you sort through everything – you may be holding on to things they no longer want or need (or may not even be aware its being “saved for them”). Plan a “sorting party” make three piles – storage / donations/ take with you.
Once the stuff is sorted and donated / moved into a storage unit (can rent month by month), you now have a clean slate to begin with. Assess the needs of the parent(s) moving in, are they ambulatory, can they do stairs, how much stuff are they looking to bring along? [note – do the same storage/donate exercise with the parent(s) moving in as you did for your own home]. Once you’ve narrowed this down, you can plan for which rooms will be used for what purpose.
If they are ambulatory, the lower level may be perfect. It allows for additional privacy for all parties, you can spruce it up with a few new pieces – new carpet / paint and move in some of their own things for a sense of security and peace of mind.
If they are not ambulatory and they are unable to do stairs – you might want to consider moving the adult child(ren) downstairs and having the parent(s) assume the bedroom on the main floor. Again, you can potentially move in their bedroom suite, and update things like paint and flooring.
Q: My parent(s) have a very different style than my husband and I do. We are looking to update our basement to give them a “mini” apartment, we will share the laundry room. Our builder has laid everything out (bedroom / living room / accessible bathroom and kitchenette). The question is, with our styles so different how do I blend them? It sounds horrible, but once they are gone the home is still ours. The parent(s) think since we’re already “re-doing” the space they should get to select all the materials. [note: they are paying for a portion of the renovation, but not all and will help with the mortgage as they are able]
A: This can be difficult and can cause the most contention we suggest, in this instance, that you bring in a designer (US! of course). Trying to blend two or more styles can be difficult. We see this every day even without having extended family input. We see this between partners / spouses. A designer can take both styles, provide a rendering and show how they can work and blend perfectly. This is also where compromise plays a really big role. For us, our suppliers offer so many styles / colors / patterns in a huge range of budget options it makes it easier for us to pull things together and show you (3D images / renderings) how it will look in advance of putting it all in. Working with a designer on a project like this is important – it will save you time and money.
Finally, the last question we’ll attempt to answer in this blog is:
Q: Our home has multiple levels (e.g. sunken room, varied heights of thresholds, steps outside to come in) and I can see this being an “accident waiting to happen” with moving our parent(s) in. How can we make our home safe? Our parent(s) currently ambulatory but who knows what the future holds?
A: This one comes up quite a bit actually -even when our clients are not moving in aging parents. What was in style a few decades ago (sunken living/family rooms) may not be the desire today. There are great contractors that can-do room leveling – adjusting the space to be “same” level/height as the rest of the home. This is not an inexpensive exercise but gives you peace of mind and updates the look overall of the space.
When you’re looking at contractors either take your designer with you, or make sure you speak to references where they have done this in the past – even ask if you can go see (get before /after photos from them as well) the finished product.
Once you have a contractor work with your designer to make the space functional and family friendly.
I hope you hit your question here. If we didn’t please feel free to reach out, we’d love to help you transition from a single to a multi-generational home, easily!
Still not convinced you can accommodate multiple generations in your current home? Give us a call, our suppliers and manufacturers have great products to accommodate this new lifestyle.
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Looking for some other reasons to consider multi-generational living? Check out this article by Toll Brothers.
You can reach Laura at 410.855.4900 x801 or Lmeck@decoratingden.com
Visit our website www.Cornerstone.decoratingden.com