How To Modify a Floor Plan for Multi-Generational Living

home additions in law suites

Here’s another COVID-19 pandemic statistic: Family Matters, a 2021 study published by Generations United, says a quarter of Americans now live in multi-generational households. This amounts to a quadrupling of such households over the decade, often taking existing houses and modifying the floor plan.

More than half the survey respondents say the pandemic made it necessary to reduce their living expenses, and over two-thirds intend to remain in a multi-generational household for the long term. 

Multi-generational living may become a norm, and with good reason: together, families can support one another as well as save money. Here are a few benefits this brings:

  • Children can go straight home after school or extracurricular activities to grandparents or other family elders.
    • This encourages generations to strengthen and maintain ties and traditions. 
    • Parents are spared the mad (and often stressful) rush to meet a 6:00 PM child pick-up deadline and the additional cost of outside care.
  • Offering a small but secure living space to family members who have been laid off from work or are recently retired can help them establish (or re-establish) their future plans. 
    • These relatives can help out by cooking or driving older relatives and children to appointments, shopping, and other places.

In many ways, multi-generational homes are a return to traditional practices that were dropped in the modern era. Part of their appeal is that they provide support to vulnerable family members – children, the elderly, and those who find themselves suddenly unemployed.

What Does a Multi-Generational-Friendly Home Plan Look Like?

The best multi-generational home plans feature lots of living spaces, separate entrances to maximize privacy, and more than one kitchen. While these features are still unusual to see on the market, more builders are paying attention to buyers who want a home that houses generations living together.


One builder offers a suite that can be added to many of its existing stock to create a home within a home complete with a bedroom, full bathroom, kitchenette, and stackable washers and dryers. Others transform larger (>2000 sf) homes to include multiple master suites and kitchens, Jack-and-Jill bathrooms between smaller bedrooms, and lofts. Separate entrances are added for basement apartments – just like those in city brownstones.

4 Ways to Create a Multi-Generational Floor Plan for an Existing Home

Most homes on the market today aren’t built for multiple generations; at best, they can accommodate one or two extra people. But it is entirely possible to create a floor plan that transforms existing space into a multi-generational home. Here are four ways to do this:

Dedicate the first floor to house older family members.

Many aging seniors find stairs are obstacles and prefer first-floor space. Adding ensuite bathrooms to first-floor bedrooms is another bonus for and adds value to the home as well. 

Turn your basement into an in-law suite.

Basements often have a lot of unused space and are great places to repurpose into a suite. Add a separate entrance to enhance privacy while remaining steps away from family.

This Mother-In-Law Suite in Pickerington, Ohio Keeps a Family Together


Repurpose guest bedrooms and flex spaces into ensuite bedrooms.

Smaller bedrooms and flex spaces were popular bonus options in the past decades to use as guest bedrooms, offices, or libraries. Today, most people read on a tablet and can work on a laptop from anywhere – making these spaces prime real estate to repurpose into ensuite bedrooms.

Define communal areas

Remember, a multi-generational house is meant for families to stay together, so be sure to define a place where members can hang out together. This can be a designated kitchen, a great room, or a separate dining room.


Heitmeyer Building and Design is a family-owned business dedicated to the Pickering community and surrounding area. We know how to redesign your home into a welcoming and comfortable space for multi-generational living or help you design a new home for all your loved ones. Contact us today and let’s get started on making something together!

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