House Review: Multigenerational Homes

Professional Builder's House Review design team offers five plans to accommodate parents, children, and grandparents under one roof.

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer | October 1, 2014

Although initially driven by recent economic struggles, the multigenerational household appears to be gaining even more momentum due to demographic changes. The combination of aging Baby Boomers, boomerang children moving back home, and Millennials delaying marriage provides a sizable demand for family friendly housing options. Additionally, Latin American and Asian immigrants are quite comfortable living in multigenerational situations, just as most cultures were in times past. Since this idea appears to be much more than merely a trend, we asked our House Review design team to present both concepts and completed product that address this desire for flexible, extended family living arrangements.

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Larry Garnett, FAIBD
Plan Size
Width: 31 feet, 4 inches
Depth: 73 feet
Living area: 1,395 sf
First floor: 965 sf
Second floor: 430 sf
This home was designed with several options for the multigenerational household. First, two master suites offer flexibility for an older family member to enjoy a first-level suite. There is also an optional two-bedroom version for the second floor. Located above the garage, the guest quarters is similar to the garage apartment concept that was common years ago in many neighborhoods. This secluded suite, with its separate entrance, becomes ideal for a boomerang child living at home. In later years, it might be utilized by a live-in caretaker for an aging Baby Boomer. There’s plenty of parking for the additional family members, along with spacious outdoor living areas and porches.
A. Additional master suite on second floor
B. Optional two bedrooms on second floor
C. Living quarters above garage
D. Private stairs to guest quarters
E. Additional parking
F. Side porch and courtyard



Todd Hallett, AIA, CAPS
TK Design and Associates
Plan Size
Width: 22 feet
Depth: 49 feet
Living area: 3,411 sf
The best plans designed for multigenerational living offer the builder flexible options. This approach to planning works best when a standard home can easily convert existing spaces to allow for additional family members. Through the use of plug-and-play options, a home can be designed to expand its target market by seamlessly flexing the way spaces are used:
A. Huge nook allows for a sitting bay. Egress to the rear yard is positioned toward the kitchen so as not to interfere with furnishing.
B. Reconfigured kitchen allows for island seating and opens up the space to bring in more natural light.
C. Office is strategically located to provide a view to the rear as well as being near the kitchen. This type of mom’s office is where the real work gets done.
D. Space has been allocated for a stop-and-drop at the family entrance. This is a great spot for keys, phone chargers, and anything else you can unload on the way in.
E. Large-items pantry vastly increases kitchen storage.
F. The stair is positioned so that it’s not the first thing you see as you enter the home. This creates a nice sense of procession for the entrance.
G.The powder room is tucked into a small alcove for privacy.
H. The great room opens to the kitchen and the nook, which makes the space attractive for entertaining and everyday living.
I. A pocket office can flex into a butler’s pantry or the increasingly popular wine station.
J. Owner’s bath has the very popular rock star shower with no tub. Eliminating the deck tub is trending in many markets. The in-betweener is to do a stand alone tub. This plan can option for that setup as well.
K. Her closet is very generous and offers flexibility for additional options.
L. In Option 2, this space provides a small kitchenette, ample retreat space, and a private bedroom and bath.
M. The laundry room easily plugs into the second floor to allow for the multi-generational conversion.


Multigenerational Home

Donald F. Evans, AIA
The Evans Group
Plan Size
Width: 70 feet
Depth: 84 feet
Living area: 3,610 sf
When designing a multigenerational home we have a goal of seven bedrooms, and for every two bedrooms with a bath we can substitute another master suite. The name of the game is flexibility within the plan for the various generational combinations of children and adults. As with this plan, we try to provide as much privacy for the bedrooms as possible, utilizing all four corners.
A. Owner’s master suite
B. Guest casita can become another master suite if flex option is utilized.
C. Anything room/garage can become another suite with an outside entry. The flex option can create two bedrooms, one bedroom, or another master suite. This same space can also become a one-car or two-car garage.
D. Suites 3 and 4 have a Jack and Jill bathroom or they can become another master suite and bathroom. 
E. Guest cabana is another bedroom and the adjacent bath can become private if needed.


Multigenerational Plan

Richard C. Handlen, AIA, LEED AP
EDI International Inc.
Plan Size
Width: 48 feet
Depth: 64 feet
Living area: 3,960 sf 
The multigenerational plan is a heavily zoned floor plan that lends itself to a variety of family or extended family uses or even multiple families. The left side of the first floor is the common area: formal dining and living in the front and kitchen/great room to the rear.
The second floor is divided into adult and children’s wings. The adult side contains the master suite and a library balcony overlooking the dining room. The children’s side has three bedrooms and two baths arranged around a common sitting room. This is a great zone for children of all ages.
Back on the first floor behind the garage is the bonus space, which makes this plan special. The suite shown has a kitchenette, bedroom, and living area with its own exterior and garage access as well as an optional door into the great room. This offers complete privacy for the independent grandparent, bounce-back kid, or rental tenant. This highly flexible space could be built as a large game room, extra bedrooms, ground floor master, expanded garage, home office, shop, and almost endless possibilities.
A. Living-room retreat is on the adult side but still supervises access to the second level.
B. Great room is the common gathering area for all generations.
C. Library balcony overlooks the dining room on the adult side of the second floor.
D. Common room is the focus of the three-bedroom children’s wing. 
E. Bonus space living room
F. Bonus space bedroom suite
G. Exterior side door to the unit
H. Optional hotel door between the house and the bonus space
I. Kitchenette
J. Direct access to the garage from the bonus space and house


The Legend

Anne Postle, AIA, CAASH
Osmosis Architecture
Plan Size
Width: 50 feet
Depth: 60 feet
Living area: 3,688 sf
First floor: 2,080 sf
Second floor: 1,608 sf
The makeup of today’s family has changed, and the demand for homes that meet these changing needs is greater than ever. Do you know of a family looking for a home where a grandparent can also live? Do you know someone who runs a business from home? How about a family with a boomerang adult child?
The Legend provides a perfect solution for those families who need more than just three bedrooms and two baths. The multipurpose suite, with a separate entrance, private living area, bedroom, bathroom, and even a stackable washer and dryer, is perfect for aging family members who want to live close but still want their own space. It also works well for the growing number of people running businesses from home.
A. Separate entrance
B. Kitchen equipped for independent living
C. Interior access to family foyer (can remain open) 
D. 2’-10” doors for ease of use (aging-in-place)
E. Stack laundry in suite


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