Design Changes That Make It Easier to Move Home Again
By Mary Boone
About a quarter of American adults between the ages of 18 and 30 now live with their parents. Yes, it’s sometimes uncomfortable, but thanks to high unemployment rates and a tight job market, 20.7 million young adults are now sharing living space with the very same folks who diapered them and packed their school lunches.
Financially, the living situation may make things easier. Logistically, it may be the most difficult thing you – parent or child – has ever done. These new living arrangements pose challenges, particularly when it comes to sharing bathrooms, assigning chores, charging rent and setting policies regarding noise, parties and overnight guests.
Homes Designed for Sharing
Lennar Corp., a nationally known home builder, is among a handful of companies that are actively marketing houses designed to accommodate multiple generations within the same home. The builder’s “Next Gen” models feature a secondary suite with a bedroom, eat-in kitchenette and living room, as well as a separate entrance.
Similarly, Drummond House Plans has created a collection for multi-generational and extended families. These floor plans are defined as one structure with separate units – all intended to keep family members together without sacrificing independence.
Of course, not everyone whose 20-something son or daughter shows up in the driveway with a truck full of moving boxes can afford to – or wants to – build or buy a home specifically designed to accommodate multiple generations.
So, how do you make your current house work when the kids move back home?
Beyond establishing house rules, it’s important to make sure all parties have the privacy they need and deserve.
The bedroom should offer both a comfortable place to retreat and a means by which your adult child can stay organized. Bookcases or trunks that double as nightstands, for instance, provide both storage and a spot for a bedside lamp and clock. Other dual-purpose furniture you may want to consider: a platform bed with storage beneath or an ottoman that provides both seating and storage space.
If the room is big enough, consider creating a sitting or work area to make the space feel more like a living area. If a twin bed is being used, a tailored or fitted cover and a few large pillows or cushions can create a sofa effect that makes the room feel more like a studio apartment.
When space is super tight, it may be necessary to convert a den or office into an extra bedroom.
“For shared spaces, there are some clever – and attractive – ways to divvy up a room that won’t leave you with anything permanent,” says celebrity designer and TV personality Courtney Cachet. A heavy velvet curtain, wall divider, decorative screen or rolling bookcase can be used to divide the space and provide much-needed privacy without costing a fortune.
Most importantly, Cachet says an effort must be made to update the adult child’s childhood bedroom.
“If a 24-year-old woman is sleeping in a teen princess room, she might not feel or act as she should – hopefully, as a contributing member of the family as opposed to a teenager with less rules and no curfew,” she says. A new paint job and grown-up linens will help the returning child feel like the adult they are.
“Think about putting a mini-fridge in their bedroom so when they’re texting at 2 a.m. they won’t disturb you by making noise in the kitchen,” Cachet says. “Think about providing headphones for the TV and fixing creaky doors. These sound like little things, but if you’ve been an empty-nester for a while, those little things can become big things very quickly.”
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