Multi-generational households are becoming a new norm for Americans. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately one-third of young adults now live with a parent. The center also reports that for the first time in well over a century, young adults are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than in any other living arrangement. What’s more, in 2012 a record 18.8% of the population lived in multi-generational households—twice the number from 1980.
This shift is already affecting our industry—take the remodeling niche for example. Recent data from the American Housing Survey reveals that households with two or three generations appear to remodel more than households with only one generation. Notably, the two-generation households that include family members who are older than the head of the house—i.e. parents moving in with one of their grown children—were less likely to embark on a remodel. If a they did, however, they often spent the most.
There are a few secrets to successful design for multi-generational households.
  • Providing multiple master bedrooms is among the most important, especially when the home includes family members from an older generation who are accustomed to their privacy. An additional step is to incorporate an in-law suite into a home’s layout, which offers a private entrance, bathroom and kitchenette for an apartment-like experience. Some families go so far as to landscape separate outdoor living quarters as well.
  • Grab bars help maintain balance, lessen fatigue while standing and assist when needing to stand up. ADA-compliant grab bars, have come a long way in terms of style and design. Today’s grab bars marry assistance with aesthetically pleasing options that seamlessly fit into any bathroom design.
  • A hand-held shower offers control and durability, as well as a way to simplify the shower experience. Ergonomically designed, the Palm® Shower provides a simple, one-handed operation that puts your client (of any age) in control.
  • Add flexibility to the kitchen space with Touch2O® Technology, which turns on and off with a simple touch anywhere on the spout or handle with a wrist or forearm, making cleaning messy hands or washing dishes a breeze for all ages and capabilities.
Ultimately, multi-generational design should be flexible enough to adapt to both the day-to-day and year-to-year changes of a growing or aging family. This means creating space that accommodates children—those currently living there, as well as any moving back home—and their needs, while at the same time ensuring the home accommodates family members who are less steady on their feet.  
Multi-generational living is a concept American homeowners are starting to embrace, and it’s a trend that is sure to keep the design community busy.