Modern families are more diverse than ever before. In fact, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data, ”In 2016, a record 64 million people, or 20% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof…”*
As a custom home builder, I’ve learned to encourage my clients to think about how their family’s needs might evolve when planning their home. That includes thinking about how two or more generations–parents, grandparents, adult children, grandchildren, and others–become a part of the family for at time. It’s not something everyone wants or needs to do, but it’s a future possibility some like to consider.
Here’s some of our thinking on the subject:
1. Think “adaptable”. Design spaces that could serve other purposes. Create a study that could be converted into a second master bedroom or a walk-out basement that could double as private apartment with a kitchenette and full bath.
2. Be generous with lighting. Overhead recessed lighting, track lighting, chandeliers, and pendants not only add to your flexibility in adding warmth and different moods your space, they can brighten dark areas and improve safety. It’s easier to turn them off than add them later.
3. Build in family-friendly details. Amenities such as walk-in shower benches, multi-level counter spaces, storage walls, built-in bookshelves, hydrotherapy tubs, and additional spaces such as laundry rooms add significantly to livability.
4. Use open space. Keep stairways, hallways, and doorways wide and open. You’ll not only improve general traffic flow, such additions accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, and make it easy to retrofit a chair lift if any of those ever becomes necessary.
5. Use the outdoors. One way to provide options for private space is to develop outdoor “rooms.” Focal points such as porches, fireplaces, shielded gardens, pathways, and step-out patios offer a place to retreat.
6. Add bathrooms to every bedroom. Individual bathrooms establish a level of privacy and sanctuary that is personal and comforting to both guests and family members.
7. Plan a first floor master suite. Many modern home plans incorporate a first floor master suite–bedroom, bath, and closet–that can be used by the a family member or guest. When you’re building a home that you may live in for many years, it’s an amenity you won’t regret including.
8. Expand your garage. The ability to accommodate more than two vehicles can be a real advantage. Even if you don’t always use all the space for vehicles, it can double as a workshop or a storage area.
9. Add a zero-step entrance. It’s not only everyday convenient, it can accommodate guests and family members who have trouble navigating stairs.
10. Take advantage of partitioning. Sliding walls, screens, partial walls, french doors, and such can be added to permanently or temporarily divide larger areas into more intimate spaces.
11. Create places to congregate. Rooms dedicated to theatre, exercise, crafts/projects, games, media, and so on, offer opportunities to enjoy each other as a group.
Walker Homes can help you plan a home that not only meets your needs today but will grow and change with your family as it does. If you’d like to explore the idea of building a custom home in the Richmond area, please call me or drop me an email. My team and I look forward to the possibility of working with you.