Articles - New Homes

How to Design a Functional Multi-Generational Home

5th August 2019

Multi-generational living is on the rise. With housing becoming increasingly less affordable, many Australians are opting for multi-generational living arrangements.

Multi-generational living can be there a perfect solution for a variety of families. Allowing for children to take care of ageing grandparents, grandparents taking care of grandchildren, or adult children staying at home while studying or saving for their own home. 

Even though multi-generational living can be a great solution, if not executed correctly, it can have some serious pitfalls. With so many different age groups and family members running on different schedules, it can become overbearing very quickly. Homes require a specialised design to keep things running smoothly. 

Future Planning 

Before you even begin to start designing your new home, make sure you consider both present and future needs. For aging members of your family mobility may be an issue, so instead of building up, you made need to build out. You may also need to consider wide corridors, non-slip surfaces, and large bathrooms. The children in your family may enjoy hanging out in open-plan living areas, but when they get a bit older their probably going to want their own space. The best idea is to keep the communal spaces suited to all family members, with generation-specific pieces left to bedrooms and private quarters. 

A good starting point is to have everyone in your family make a wishlist then combine them. There will likely be some compromises involved, but at least you know you haven’t missed anything. 

Practical Design Features

Open-plan living is everywhere at the moment, but when it comes to multi-generational living, it may not be the best option. Try getting the best of both worlds by having a large open-plan area for kitchen and dining so the family can still all get together at mealtime. While making the living room a little more private for when family members need peace and quiet. If you have space, two living areas would be ideal, so you never need to step on anybody's toes. Make sure at least one of these living areas have enough room to all sit together so you can still all hang out from time to time. 

Privacy is a Must

Adequate separation is a crucial factor in successful multi-generational living. One of the most prominent complaints families have when in a multi-generational living space is lack of privacy. Even if you have private bedrooms, you're not going to want to spend all your time in there. That’s why hidden nooks and multiple living areas a great for the whole family. If you are running out of space for all these additional areas. Create a seated area in your backyard that can be enjoyed on your own or with a group. 

Multi-Functional Rooms 

As your family grows and changes the use of rooms may vary. Use a basic design for bedrooms, studies, or living areas, allowing them to be transformed if required at a reasonably low cost. There is no point spending thousands on furniture for an additional living room if a few years down the track you are going to turn it into a study. If you are building a brand new home also plan for utilities such and plumbing, electrical wiring, and internal framing to prevent costly renovations in the future. 

Consider a Granny-Flat

With all this talk of additional living rooms or hidden nooks, it might end up overcrowding your house. Whether your parents are moving in or your children are turning into teenagers, some members of your family might like additional privacy.  

A studio out the back could contain office space, bedrooms or a self-contained granny-flat complete with kitchen and bathroom. The best part about having a separate living area from the house is that if someone in the family moves out, it will make excellent guest accommodation. 

Whether you choose to share a home with your family for support, companionship or financial reasons, multi-generational living can offer many answers. The key in design is to be able to utilise space to find a balance between social and private time among the family.