Celebrating Togetherness – Multi-Generational Design Solutions

Celebrating Togetherness – Multi-Generational Design Solutions

Arloene moved in with her adult son after falling and breaking her hip. Tom moved in with his adult daughter after his wife passed away and the loneliness was just too much. Lori and her young son moved back in with her parents when her marriage didn’t work out. Jeanne dreamed of sharing their home so that her children would grow up and really get to know her aging parents. Lois and Roger, on a fixed income and with a home that was paid for but in need of repairs, had a lot to offer their son’s family who enjoyed a good, steady income, yet wasn’t able to stash much away for a down payment on a home of their own.

“In 2016, a record 64 million people, or 20% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof.” – PEW Research Center. In 1980, the same study showed that number was just 12% of the U.S. population, and in light of the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, the number is surely even higher today. In light of the growing popularity, we present this two-part series on multi-generational home design.

Along with its 2-car garage version (plan #42229 at just 42-feet wide) the Cedar Glen II (plan #42369 3-car) is Design Basics’ most popular multi-generational home plan. In fact, the Cedar Glens are Design Basics’ best-selling of all of our home plans over the last couple years! The two full, main-floor bedroom suites accommodate both adult generations nicely, with secondary bedrooms upstairs for the kids/grandkids. Togetherness is assured with this plan’s open entertaining area, yet all of the bedrooms are split apart for the privacy we each need, too. Also contributing to the home’s attractiveness is its cost. Many families choose to live as multi-generational households out of a desire to pool their financial resources. With a straightforward foundation, streamlined structural layout, and simple gable rooflines, this value-engineered design is also cost-efficient to build. 

Note: All plans shown feature interior passage doors that are at least 32”-wide and the option of a no-step entry at the front door as well as from the garage for enhanced accessibility.

Cedar Glen II - #42369 3-Car

(Click on images to enlarge.)

Cedar Glen II - #42369
Cedar Glen II - #42369 3-car

Bedroom locations are one of the most important determinants of finding the right multi-generational home design. Ranch plans such as the Kinney Farm, (#42462), place all of the bedrooms on the home’s main floor. Solitude in this design is maximized by the positioning of all three bedrooms. With so many windows, the socializing area of this home lifts the spirit. Gatherings are further enhanced with the availability of the 16-foot covered deck/patio or use this space to simply relax and appreciate nature.

Kinney Farm - #42462
Kinney Farm - #42462

Alternately, some multi-generational households are looking for one of the suites on the first floor, and another suite upstairs, such as in the Dillon Park (plan #42477). The older generation, typically choosing the main floor suite, is mostly spared daily treks up and down the stairs. With only one main floor suite, such layouts can provide more generous gathering areas while still controlling the home’s overall width and depth. Denoted in this plan as a Family Lounge, buyers favoring one of the suites on the second floor have also expressed interest in a convenient upstairs area for game playing, reading, study, or just enjoying time to themselves.

Dillon Park - #42477
Dillon Park - #42477
Dillon Park - #42477

Some home designs offer excellent potential for meeting the desires of multi-generational buyers. As originally designed, the 1,994 square foot, 3-bedroom Windsor Cottage (plan #42226) is a 2-story home with 3-car tandem garage. But in lieu of the deep tandem garage stall, it can be built with a private first-floor suite – as shown in the Windsor Cottage (plan #42226-4 Bed), coming in at 2,272 finished square feet.

Windsor Cottage - #42226 800px
Design Basics Plan #42226ml
Windsor Cottage - #42226 Bed 4
Windsor Cottage - #42226

While these designs have proven popular with many of our customers, some buyers are looking for both the shared living areas AND a private living area for the second suite – a design amenity we look at closer in our next post.

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How do You Like to Entertain?

How do You Like to Entertain?

This should be a question asked of every home buyer. That answer likely will have a profound effect on finding the right home for you. Formal living and dining rooms provide a welcome sensory buffer from the kitchen (visual mess, clatter and chatter, cooking odors) when entertaining. But ask any real estate agent, today the majority of home buyers seek large, combined entertaining spaces with a socializing area and expandable eating area, both open to the kitchen. Yes, as a nation we’ve become a bit more casual – just look at how we dress for work or church. What else is driving the popularity of the open concept? Practicality – buyers understand “cost per square foot” and value space they could use daily more than infrequently used formal entertaining areas. Togetherness – as family time together is increasingly rare and a separate kitchen often results in isolation when prepping, cooking, or cleaning up. And, multi-tasking – whether that’s watching TV while preparing dinner or keeping tabs on the kids after dinner.

The semi-formal “Great Room” borrowed from both the formal living room and casual family room. Often open to the front entry, great rooms may showcase the living room’s attractive finishes (flooring, ceiling treatments) and amenities (fireplace, lovely windows) as well as the family room’s big TV and comfortable furniture. Unrestricted by walls, which limited table size and therefore seating, an open dining area allows you to extend the table, accommodating big family holiday meals. Cherished memories! After all, grandparents, aunts, and uncles came to be with everyone, not to sit at the “adults” table while the kids eat elsewhere. 

Though it is already a generous-sized dining area, the Sunflower Glen (plan #42425) has an open layout that permits “temporarily borrowing” space from the great room, so that you can add leaves to your dining table or set up another table alongside your existing table for large dinner gatherings, allowing everyone to be together.

More than the clothes we wear and the vehicles we drive, we reveal ourselves through our homes. Now part of the public entertaining space, kitchens add to your story. Appliances may suggest the serious chef; storage can be beautiful and obvious, minimalist and hidden, or unique and colorful; and finishes, including flooring, counter tops, and back splashes, speak volumes about who you are. Eliminating kitchen clutter assumed new importance, ushering in solutions such as the Drop Zone to catch items when you first arrive home, Small Appliance Centers (see the Sunflower Glen above) to keep such items off your kitchen counter tops, and larger prep pantries or ironically, Work-in Pantries which, while corralling the mess, harken back to the separate, closed-off kitchen spaces typical of older home designs.

In the excitement of a model home tour, sometimes unnoticed is the presence and design of the front entry foyer. While it’s true that most of the time we go in and out of our homes through the garage, we still welcome guests into our homes at the front door. Do you prefer a home that opens directly into an entertaining space such as the great room? While immediately welcoming, people living in such designs have mentioned they sometimes miss out on greeting their visitors. Conversely you may prefer a more formal sense of entry for receiving visitors, but this comes with the added cost of that square footage. Is there a closet at that front entry, or do you plan on hanging coats elsewhere?

When entertaining, people gravitate towards sunny spaces. Physiologically, our eyes are attracted to light and studies show that sunlight triggers the release of serotonin in our bodies, a feel-good chemical.  Add in the obvious benefit of being able to easily and clearly see everything, and sun-filled entertaining areas win almost every time. Oversized windows, particularly out the back of the home can offer beautiful vistas. Or, you might spend the same amount of money on standard size windows placed on two, or sometimes three sides of your entertaining area, ushering in daylight from multiple directions. Sunlight can be more prevalent in our kitchens as well. By accommodating storage needs with an extra-deep pantry, the Silver Creek (plan #42028 shown below) omits traditional upper cabinets on the rear kitchen wall in favor of additional windows! When we’ve shown home buyers the opportunity to delete some upper cabinets in favor of additional windows in the kitchen, most will gladly spend a little more for the added sunlight. Just be sure you’ve addressed that “lost” storage with, say, an oversized pantry.

Silver Creek - #42028
light cabinets in kitchen

What about your kids? While the open kitchen/dining/great room layout can work great for your neighborhood get-together, where will the kids play and not disrupt the party? If you are fortunate enough to have a basement foundation, that may be your answer – a play room in the basement. But if you’re building on a slab or crawl space, having a secondary entertaining place for their play is the recipe for everyone’s enjoyment. Finishing off space over a garage is ideal for noise reduction. In lieu of a two-story high entertaining room, would you see more value in a rec room built atop that main floor entertaining area? And though primarily envisioned as a place for parents with their children, the Family Lounge can also double as a kids’ entertaining area.

Cedar Glen II - #42229 UL

The Cedar Glen II (plan #42229) offers the potential of finishing nearly 250 sq. ft. of space over the garage – an ideal place for kids’ entertaining.

Honey View - #42343

The Honey View (plan #42343) includes an upstairs rec room accessed by a couple stairs, allowing the entertaining area directly under to still feature an impressive 11-foot high ceiling.

Dillon Park - #42477

The Dillon Park (plan #42477) provides a family lounge upstairs, which could double as kids’ entertaining space.

Join us next week for: Outdoor Entertaining at Home

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

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Flex Spaces Save the Day!

Flex Spaces Save the Day!

COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020 ushered in a new appreciation for flexible living spaces in our homes as we adapted to having our entire families at home all day, every day. Suddenly our children were completing school online, and many of us began working from home. There was increased emphasis on home-based activities, such as crafts and hobbies. And amidst the blessings of more togetherness, a newfound recognition of the importance of “me” space.

Flex rooms became school rooms. While homeschoolers may have already figured this out, many households were thrust into the position of deciding the best places for learning and completing assignments. Often, this wasn’t the kids’ bedrooms, particularly when lessons were assigned, but the “teaching” aspect was unfortunately diminished even though textbooks and online instruction was available. When your kids did not understand something, getting answers on a timely basis was challenging – so they needed your attention. Adequate seating and workspace became primary concerns, along with internet and printer access (ruling out that flex room over the garage that just can’t get a good wireless internet signal), and even windows – we all learn better in sunny environments and daylight improves concentration while reducing eyestrain.

The Burlington (plan #43023) is a value-engineered, affordable two-story home that could accommodate such changes. Common default areas for schoolwork include the dining room table and kitchen island. There is also a flex room (Den) off the front entry, which might be able to double up as a learning center. Upstairs, there is a computer loft plus lots of available space over the garage that could be purposed for schoolwork.

At 6’-8’ x 3’-4” the Burlington’s wrapping island snack bar presents abundant workspace. The Den (flex room) up front provides the privacy and natural light conducive to productivity. Upstairs, the 6’-5” wide Computer Loft makes for another convenient study area. 

If working from home became your new normal, you quickly realized the importance of location, organization, privacy, and sunlight. You may have been fortunate enough to already have a den, or even a spare bedroom/guest room that you could office out of. Some companies provided employees with money to purchase necessities such as an ergonomic chair and/or workspace furniture to make the transition to working from home more efficient – their importance cannot be overstated. Privacy needs varied as much as the type of work being done, but being able to close a door (remember, solid-core doors block sound transfer better) as well as proximity to commonly used traffic areas and adjoining media rooms gained heightened importance. Windows provide a connection to the outdoors that our biorhythms depend on. Officing out of a basement or interior space without sunlight can adversely affect mood, irritation, and concentration as well as bring on eyestrain and even headaches.

As days stretched into weeks at home, parents scrambled for new ideas that would occupy and entertain their kids – going decidedly old-school. Increased screen time was pretty much a given, but from play dough, to coloring and innumerable other hobbies and crafts, spaces in the home for such pursuits became treasured.

Photo of Boys with Toy RocketsRocket men! Our tech-savvy kids of all ages began to experience the joys of new, offline activities. But whether it was jigsaw puzzles or model glue and paint drying, or even some board games, where could such indoor undertakings be left, undisturbed, to complete later? The multi-purpose laundry/activity center in the Aden (plan #42037) provides just such an opportunity and is particularly versatile with its island on casters for easy re-positioning!

Aden - #42037 Activity Center

Finally, personal space carved out new meaning as we were introduced to these different realities of family life. While people were designed to live in community, Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., writes of the benefits of seeking solitude in Psychology Today, “Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.” She goes on to say, “You also may come to appreciate your relationships more after you've spent some time alone.” 

You might retreat to your bedroom, especially if it is spacious enough to offer a sitting area. Or perhaps you can sneak away to an outside living area.

Where would you go for some alone time? The Carswell (plan #29317) presents a sunny bayed sitting area in the owner’s suite as well as a private rear deck off that bedroom. Or is the sun room more to your liking? Then there is the option of this home’s spacious patio under a cathedral ceiling!

Even with the added demands of responding to the pandemic, everyone needs to have a place they can go to be alone, even if that is just for a few minutes.

Carswell - #29317

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Homes Talk to Women as it Relates to Her Story

Homes Talk to Women as it Relates to Her Story

Rear Foyer - Elise, MaggieWelcome to Part 2 of the ‘Homes Talk to Women’ series focusing on as it relates to her story. Homes Talk to Women through her life experiences. What has she experienced in her current home or apartment? What does she like; what would she change if she could? Having lived in a home with no garage, for Aimee, the idea of walking into her home from the garage directly into the kitchen without a rear foyer was simply not on her radar screen. Now, homes without a rear foyer say to her, “Thoughtless!”

Homes Talk to Women through her knowledge. That’s one reason for touring model homes, watching HGTV, and surfing the internet. She may love the idea of a door-less walk-in shower (no door to clean!), but she may not know that it can get really cold without that door to keep the heat in. Incorporating a radiant towel warmer is an easy addition!

Homes Talk to Women through her culture, as different backgrounds may have significant influences on her preferences. Cultures that emphasize academic success may have strong interest in the Family Lounge concept where parents are involved with their kids’ homework. Feng Shui has significant influence over home design. The lack of a formal entryway, a closet directly opposite the front door, stairs facing the front door, or a bathroom door facing the front door all say to her, “This is not the home for me!”

Homes Talk to Women through her lifestage, appreciating the shifting needs of how people live in the home at those particular lifestages. Priorities and needs differ among newlyweds, growing families, empty nesters, and multi-generational households. Big closets in all the bedrooms say – ‘A place for everything’, and tells her she won’t be hearing any more, “But mom, there’s no place to put it!” from the kiddos.

Everyone’s life experiences and living situations are different. What’s your story and how do you prefer your home’s design to fit your story?

Next week learn how ‘Homes Talk to Women’ through the home’s livability. 

If you missed the other segments of this four-part series, click the links below:

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Backstory: The Family Lounge

Backstory: The Family Lounge

A couple with young children was looking for "cuddle space." In another household, it was the need for an upstairs family area for "together time" before bed. Yet another family wanted a larger open study area where the parents would be involved with their kids' studies. 

It could be reading with the kids, board games, crayon artwork masterpieces, or a one-act play. The Family Lounge is a space for time together upstairs. The Sussex (plan #42284) offers a generous family lounge space connecting the three bedroom suites. 

The Sussex Main Level
The Sussex Upper Level

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