Over the years, society goes through regular changes. There was a time when multiple generations lived under one roof, so the ages in the home could range from young babies up to senior citizens enjoying their twilight years. As people moved to the suburbs and families became more nuclear, this changed. However, the trend is reemerging as people move their aging parents in with them and different branches of a family share a household and the associated expenses. A transgenerational home is one where people of all ages can enjoy the house and stay there comfortably and safely. It removes barriers, provides greater options and extends independent living. It’s not about making a house baby-proof or handicapped accessible, but creating a house that can accommodate both of these needs.
The Benefits of Foresight
How many people have to move out of their beloved home because an illness, injury or age prevents them from navigating stairs or maneuvering through a convoluted floor plan? With a transgenerational home, the design takes into account the needs of people with limited mobility. Whether your needs change due to something unexpected or just advanced age, your home will be able to accommodate you. At the same time, you won’t have to make any major changes to the home because younger children are added to the household.
Objectives of Careful Design
The objective of this type of house is to ensure that the home is safe, comfortable and visually appealing. With a wheelchair-friendly plan already in place, the house will be ready for changes that come with age or accidents. There are also safety features in place that keep residents of all ages safer.
Anyone designing a transgenerational home should remember that people of different ages have different needs. Young children need to be allowed to make a little noise when they play because that helps them build their imagination and learn. The senior citizens in the home, however, may not appreciate hearing the sounds of your son honking car horns. The floor plan should allow for people to have a little more privacy from other family members, and you may want to consider insulating interior walls or installing noise-absorbing panels to help keep things quiet.
Mother-in-law suites have been popular for decades. Most of them include a sitting room along with a private bathroom and the bedroom. These sitting rooms are important in transgenerational homes. They provide people with a little more privacy, and they have the opportunity to retreat from the noise if they are feeling overwhelmed. When designing the floor plan, include sitting areas in each room to accommodate the different needs of family members.
Older residents will enjoy having their own bathroom, and younger family members will appreciate not having to share a bathroom with their grandparent. Transgenerational homes feature additional bathrooms for this reason. While you may not want to start out with grab bars in the bathroom, the room should have the necessary supports in the walls for easy installation of handles and safety bars at a later time. Pedestal sinks are easy for people with wheelchairs to use, but they are still attractive. Another option is adjustable height vanities that can be raised or lowered according to your needs.
Choose tubs that are wide enough to handle special lift seats in the future, and there should also be dedicated outlets that can power a lift chair or other safety equipment when the time comes. You can also eliminate the tub completely and choose curbless showers that are easy for people with limited mobility to use.
You may not want to have a separate kitchen for your aging family members, but you do want the family kitchen to be functional for most family members. When designing the space, choose raised cabinets with more kick space underneath. Look for multilevel, pull-out counters that can be used by people in walkers or wheelchairs. Pull-out steps in front of the sink will be appreciated by your young children and your aging parents. Faucets with motion sensors are also a smart investment.
Induction cooktops are easy to use and safer for all family members. Look for wall ovens that can be mounted at a height that’s comfortable for people in wheelchairs. Choose base cabinets featuring drawers that pull out rather than cavernous cabinet spaces. All of these additions make the kitchen more functional for aging family members while keeping it functional and enjoyable for the other residents of the home. More tips on transgenerational bathroom and kitchen design are available at http://www.cabinetsanddesigns.net/2011/05/10/539-transgenerational-design-and-your-home/.
Overall Design Changes
When planning a home for several generations, you need to consider what is best for the children and the residents with limited mobility. Lever-type door handles are easier to work and should be chosen over found doorknobs. The very old and the very young are prone to bruising, so try to minimize sharp corners. Opt for rounded wall corners and blunt-edged countertops. Dimmer switches in the rooms allow people to customize the lighting, and you can also invest in spotlights to add light to key areas without making the entire room feel too bright.
Maintain an open floor plan and easy flow or traffic. Remember that wheelchairs need more space, and walkers also require more space to move around. Choose open plans whenever possible, and make sure that hallways are wide enough to allow for a person to walk past a wheelchair. Flooring options like cork are easy on the joints without posing a tripping hazard. If you choose carpeting, stick with a low nap that won’t hinder a walker or make wheelchairs harder to move. Detailed floor plans are available at http://houseplans.co/house-plans/collections/multigenerational-houseplans/.
Whether you are planning on moving your aging parents in with you or you want a home that you can stay in forever, you should invest in transgenerational home design. When you look to the future, you won’t have to invest in major renovations later if an accident should limit your mobility or your elderly grandmother moves into the home. These houses can accommodate a wider range of ages, so you can start to reap all the benefits of living in a multi-generational household.
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