Home Design Tips for Multigenerational Living

Creative ways to transform your home to meet the demands of this growing trend.

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At least 1 in 5 American households is multigenerational. According to Pew Research census bureau data, in 2016, a record 64 million Americans, or 20% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof [1]. Between 2000 and 2016, the number of multigenerational households increased by a remarkable 21.6 million, increasing from 42.4 million in 2000 to 64 million in 2016 [2].

Before the COVID19 pandemic, multigenerational living was on the rise. The multigenerational households trend started to increase after the great recession. Many reasons support this growing trend. Families find economical, safety, and social benefits to cohabitating in the same residence.

More families are looking for creative ways to adapt to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many homeowners are transforming their residences to accommodate more extended family members, functional gathering spaces, accommodations for guest privacy, and aging-in-place. We predict that the pandemic is a catalyst for multigenerational living and further supports families’ economic, safety, and social well-being needs.

This article outlines the economic, safety, and social benefits of living in multigenerational families and creative ways to transform your home to meet the demands of this growing trend.

Economic Benefits to Multigenerational Living

Families can save money through multigenerational living arrangements. On a basic level, paying one mortgage is easier than paying for multiple. The same goes for property taxes, utility bills, home maintenance, even groceries. In addition to living expenses, childcare and eldercare can be cost-prohibitive for many families. Finding creative ways for grandparents to help raise grandchildren or young adults to help care for elderly grandparents saves families thousands of dollars each year.

According to Zillow, 22 percent of millennials (adults aged 24-38) live with their parents. Experts say the unaffordable housing market keeps millennials at home, rather than a failure by millennials to hold jobs or launch careers [3]. Many families find the cost of childcare to be cost-prohibitive; therefore, inviting retired elderly parents to help raise the kids is a great alternative.

An additional observation is that the pandemic will also reduce resident transience. Before the pandemic, the median duration of American homeownership was 13 years [4]. Homes will become a longer-term investment. Families are less likely to relocate for jobs, as working from home is the new normal. As a result, homeowners will view their residence as a longer-term investment.

Aging in place has been a trend for years, but it’s especially top of mind now for older adult generations. The vast majority of Boomers already say they want to age in a place where their marriage and mortgage, and memories are [5]. Planning for aging-in-place will provide comfort and accessibility for older residents. Adding an in-law apartment or guest suite could function as a rental property and add value to the home.

Family Safety Benefits to Multigenerational Living

Families are seeking creative ways to care for their loved ones.Senior living facilities and nursing homes have been particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about a fifth of boomers provide eldercare to a parent or family member, either in person or remotely. That means that even if they are relatively healthy, they’re on the front lines worrying about the high vulnerability of the very old and frail [6].

Instead of keeping family members in a care facility, many families invite aging parents to move in. The COVID pandemic has certainly expedited this trend as many caretakers feel it is safer to keep their vulnerable loved ones close by.

Social Benefits to Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational living can improve the mental health and well-being for family members of all ages, but especially those who are more prone to loneliness. It’s just critical that families with vulnerable family members be extra cautious. Being closer to family also turns up in surveys as the leading reason people move in retirement. It’s not hard to imagine the pandemic and related air travel fears will motivate even more Boomers to move nearer to adult children.

1. Large Eat-In Kitchen with Multiple Cooking Stations

Getting the family together is easy and fun in this large eat-in kitchen. A large range with many burners has several burners to cook multiple dishes at once easily. A griddle is great for easy breakfast foods the whole family will love.

Instead of a range, many families choose to separate the cooktop and wall ovens. Cooktops come in multiple sizes and types. You can choose from gas, electric, or induction models, depending on your home. Wall ovens provide more cooking capacity for large family meals. Separating the cooktop and wall ovens will create multiple cooking areas in the kitchen, easier for multiple cooks to spread out.

Refrigerators come in many different shapes and sizes. Column refrigerators have been a top choice for large families and multigenerational households. Columns are all-refrigerator, all-freezer, and wine storage appliances that you can mix and match to fit your needs and space. Columns allow you to increase your refrigerator capacity and give independent food storage to each family unit.

Large family meals with lots of people living together also call for easy clean-up. Adding an extra prep sink makes it easy for multiple people to prepare meals and clean dishes in the same space. Two dishwashers are a great choice for large families living in multigenerational homes; they’ll help you get through more dishes.

2. Group Living

Now trending among families, groups of friends, and retirees, purchasing a property with a centralized shared living space reduces loneliness. There are separate tiny homes outside the common area equipped with a bedroom, living area, bathroom, and convenience kitchen around the perimeter. This style of living is cost-effective and convenient. Sharing responsibilities on the property like cooking, childcare, and cleaning is a bonus. The main living area shared by all residents can be used by visiting guests or even Airbnb, yet each occupant has their own space to retreat to at the end of the day, aka Golden Girls.

3. Maximizing Unused Space

Transition storage space into expanded living space. There are so many possibilities. Many homes have an attic, garden-level basement with a walk-out egress, garage, or extra bedrooms that you can transform into amazing living areas.

4. Adding a Guest Suite / In-Law Apartment

Live together – and apart. Adding a separate living area will allow your family to live comfortably with you but still maintain independence. Granny pods are trending backyard ground-level tiny homes. Other families choose to upgrade existing structures such as a barn, solarium, or converted garage for extra living space. There are many different options out there, so your space and the needs of your live-in family members are important.

There are many small-space appliance packages to choose from; you can install a whole kitchen in less than 8-feet of living space. Many families choose to add a second washer dryer. There are many laundry solutions out there. Adding pedestals underneath a front-loading washer dryer pair will provide extra storage and easy access to get clothes in and out of the machines.

5. Smart Appliances

Smart appliances sound like a young person's fad, but they provide some amazing benefits for aging-in-place. Smart appliances can help aging dwellers maintain independence. If you're not a tech whiz, have a younger family member connect their phone to your smart appliances.

Shop Smart Appliances

Smart appliances are self-monitoring and will send an alert if something is happening. You will avoid common issues like leaving the stove on, leaving the refrigerator drawer open, or forgetting dinner in the oven. Smart appliances are self-aware, sense common issues like an open door, and notify your family members.

Smart appliances are also beneficial for diagnosing potential service issues. In some cases, your smart appliance can diagnose the problem, even before you realize something is malfunctioning. Some smart appliances can even give you alerts to do common maintenance tasks like changing the water filter or vacuuming a compressor.

Finally, smart appliances can help you figure out what to cook for dinner. The guided cooking abilities are like a built-in recipe cookbook. Not only will they give you step-by-step directions on how to prepare the meal, but your appliance will automatically know what mode and temperature to use for perfect results every time. Many functions take the guesswork out of cooking convenience favorites like frozen pizza or chicken nuggets if you're cooking for your children or grandchildren. Whirlpool's scan-to-cook feature – for example, lets you scan the barcode on the food box and will take care of the rest for you.


Multigenerational homes are a great option for many families that can take on many shapes and forms. It’s important to consider the needs of every family member and create a floor plan that allows everyone to live together and apart. There are many creative ways to make a multigenerational living arrangement work for every family member.