The Meadowlark Blog
Meadowlark Design+Build

Thinking About Moving Back Home to Take Care of Mom and Dad?

If you are considering joining households when Mom or Dad (or both) need more eyes on them – there are loads of decisions to make. Many of which are clouded by emotional factors which make those decisions difficult. Not to mention the challenging task of navigating the different lifestyles between two generations. Work schedules, dietary requirements, sleeping habits and social life can be at odds. Add in possible physical limitations and opposing leanings in design aesthetics and you have a recipe for disaster.  

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the benefits can outweigh the negatives. If you address all the tough questions prior to taking on a multigenerational remodel, the result can be a wonderful experience for all generations. Here are a few things to consider when looking to remodel a home for multi-generational living:

 

Master Bedroom with attached office

Safe Accessible Living 

Even if your parent(s) are still mobile, it’s important to plan for future changes in mobility. Aging-in-place strategies should weigh heavily in the design process. One-story living, doorways and passageways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and accessible interior selections (like flooring that won’t trip up someone using a walker, and using drawers instead of cabinets in the kitchen) are just of the few ideas to consider when remodeling. And “accessible” doesn’t mean institutional. Aging-in-place design can create light open spaces that work for everyone.

 

Custom Cabinetry -Wooden Drawers

We have done many remodeling and custom home projects where the clients currently have no mobility issues, but are planning to stay comfortably and safely in their home long term – even if there are changes in their mobility. Here are just a few of the aging-in-place design features that we have used in our renovations:

  • Zero-threshold transitions in bathrooms, home entrances and from room to room
  • Wheelchair-width hallways, passageways, doorways
  • Lower cabinetry taking on the bulk of storage in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms
  • Countertop levels to accommodate a wheelchair
  • Lever handles on doors
  • Grab bars in bathroom areas (these can double as towel rods)
  • Adequate lighting throughout the home

zero threshold shower

Living Together but Apart – Private Spaces are Key

Mom and Dad like to stay up late and watch TV. Since they both have hearing issues that means the volume can be a bit loud. You like to get up and out for an early run in the morning, but their TV is keeping you up at night. Here is potential for a storm brewing!

This is just one of many scenarios that can be problematic with multigenerational living. Both you and your parent(s) have been living independently for a long time so it is important to talk about day-to-day living and visualize having someone else in your space. Creating spaces to be apart and together is key to maintaining your sanity and making the relationship healthy and happy for all.

Master Suite with office design with aging in place design strategies

In a recent whole-home renovation and addition we did for a multigenerational family – we created a private master suite with an office area and accessible bathroom for Dad on the first floor. His recently retired daughter took over the second floor, transforming the three existing bedrooms into her bedroom, office and a guest bedroom and bath. Our designers thoughtfully placed the addition to put Dad and Daughter’s private spaces at the opposite ends of the home one floor apart. Insulation for noise was used to ensure that sound didn’t travel outside of those private spaces. A beautiful kitchen and great room remodel provided the perfect setting for when they wanted to be together.

 

Kitchen Living Area designed with aging in place design strategies

Ease of Maintenance and Energy Efficiency

Chances are that Mom and Dad are not interested in fixing things around the house or painting the exterior. You probably don’t have that high on your list of things you’d like to be doing either. Another consideration is that if you are part of your parent’s regular care equation – your schedule might not have room for regular home maintenance issues. When choosing selections for the remodel, consider materials that are durable, easy to clean and to maintain. Things like cement fiber exterior siding and quartz countertops, may have a bit higher price point initially, but their relative ease of maintenance and durability will pay out in the long run.

Exterior Remodel Done on home

During the remodeling process, especially if you are planning an addition, we highly recommend updates to your insulation, air sealing, windows and even your HVAC. Not only will this help to hedge against the inevitable rise in energy costs, but you will also have healthier air quality and be more comfortable in your home.

COVID Considerations in Multigenerational Remodeling

The pandemic is changing how we all live in our homes. In general we are seeing a shift in design priorities as a result of COVID-19. However, when living with someone who is more vulnerable to the virus, it becomes an even more important consideration to factor into your design discussions.

For instance, many of us are now working from home and trying to manage the work/life balance. Chances are you are spending lots of time on the phone and on virtual meetings. Thus privacy and noise management are key to making that balance work for both you and your parent(s). And what if one family member does get sick? Is there space in the home to quarantine if necessary? If you have taken into consideration all of the items mentioned above you probably have created spaces that will work for everyone.

Multigenerational Living – A Silver Lining

Shared expenses, shared experiences, shared responsibilities and shared emotional and physical support can be beneficial to everyone involved when living under one roof. With the proper planning and design, a multigenerational remodel can create the perfect home where both generations can thrive.

Are you considering a move in with a parent? We are here to help and we’d love to start the conversation.

We can even help find an intersection between those opposing design aesthetics…we love a challenge!

By Susan Christian