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How to create a Multigenerational Home {our story}

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I shared this post, creating a meaningful home a couple months ago over at my friend Jenna’s blog, SaS Interiors. I was thrilled when she asked me to participate in her summer series, Creating a Meaningful Home. I thought to myself, how to create a meaningful multigenerational home? Hmmm. Good question! Our multigenerational home as you know, is a bit unique and definitely not the norm. With that said, we have three families, four generations all creating a meaningful home together.

how to create a multigenerational home

Can you imagine living with your parents and grandparents? We are going on 5+ years of this insane journey and lets just say, it’s been interesting! ha. Our home is my childhood home owned by my mom and dad. Jenna’s series, Creating a Meaningful Home for us, is all about creating a home that suits everyone’s needs both physically and emotionally. What do I mean by that? My grandmother and grandfather both require a chair lift to get up stairs so we installed a chair lift and a handicapped accessible bathroom. Many of our renovations in our home have been done to accomodate individual needs. While my grandparents required necessary handicap items, we also each required personal space and privacy.

how to create multigenerational home

Our recently renovated pool house above and poolside outdoor space are my mom’s favorite spot to have her coffee in the morning.

how to create multigenerational home

Personal space is important to keeping your sanity in our home. There are two thoughts that come to mind for me about how we create a meaningful multigenerational home.

1. Create individual living quarters under one roof.

While our home may be very different than many, the overall living style and concept is the same. What I mean by that is, it’s important for everyone to have personal space whether it be a room or heck, even a closet to call you own! For us, we created individual family spaces. My mom, grandmother and I all have different decorating styles. We decided to create multiple TV rooms and build an additional kitchen in order to accomodate everyone’s needs. For my family (me, my husband, son and step-daughters) our personal spaces are casual, comfy and cozy. We love a modern cottage style with rustic elements. Our main goal when renovating our personal spaces was to create a family room that we loved, gave us a sense of calm and a room that was comfortable that we could all lounge in together.

how to create a multigenerational home

I added wide pine planks on the wall and chose a pretty blue green paint color which exudes relaxation. In case you are wondering, yes, all the kids and two dogs are allowed in this room and the room never looks like this in real life. Only when company is coming :).

My grandfather’s space is his workshop. This is necessary! If he spends to much time in the house, my grandmother goes crazy! ha

how to create multigenerational home

2. Create multipurpose rooms for eating, gathering and homework!

The days of a formal living and dining room are long gone in our family. I remember when I first graduated college, got married and bought my first home. It had a formal living and dining room that I thought I needed. The rooms collected dust and what a waste of space! Our home is constantly full of people coming and going, different activities from transporting my grandparents to doctor appointments or going to soccer and baseball games. We all eat at different times but for my family, our dining room is an extension of our kitchen. It’s where everything happens. We eat, gather, do homework, play lego’s and work on blog posts all in our dining room.

how to create a multigenerational home

These pictures are courtesy of Woman’s Day Magazine. When we were renovating the kitchen, we wanted an open concept so we removed the wall between the kitchen and dining room.

how to create multigenerational home

When I was a kid, this dining room was setup as a “formal dining” room. My dad would kiddingly say during holiday dinners, “so, this is the dining room.” ha.

how to create multigenerational home

My dad, grandfather and I do all of the renovations ourselves and we actually have fun doing it. Our home is full of DIY home projects and family memories that will last for eternity. Below is our covered porch where we love to sit, read and relax.

how to create multigenerational home

A meaningful home in my opinion, isn’t just about the things in it, it’s what you do with those things. My dad and I built this media console together along with my grandfather for our family room.

how to create a multigenerational home

Creating memories and long lasting traditions that will live on is what’s important. We spend our weekends together working on our home. I kiddingly said to my son the other day, do you think you will live here in this house with your family someday? Keep in mind he is six, he said, “mom, I’m living here with everyone forever!”.  In my son’s mind, home is all about family. In some ways, it’s all about basics and how families lived years ago. 

How to create a meaningful multigenerational home may not be the exact question you ask yourself, but I’m curious, what does creating a meaningful home mean to you?  Does anyone live in a multigenerational home out there?

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13 Comments

  1. We have three generations in our home… You are so right – personal space is so important for each person.. We have been together for two years now and have some of the spaces created but, are still working on some…It.s an evolving, ongoing project for sure… Love your blog, can relate to many things you talk about…

  2. ValenzMom a/k/a Helen says:

    Each time I read your story, I can just imagine the love that fills your home. That really is the only way a multigenerational situation can work – with lots of love.

    Your son is such a sweetie! He reminds me of my son when he was that age. Mark used to say, “I will always live near you.” Well, he did for a long time, but then a great job opportunity came along and now he lives just outside of Houston. But, here in TX, 2 1/2 hrs away isn’t that far so we run over to see him on weekends now and then. Still I keep hoping something will bring him back to Austin – you never know!

  3. I’m so intrigued by this! How many total square feet was the house originally and how many does it have now? Are you and your immediate family in the original part? How many total bedrooms is it? I’m so curious about the layout and what has been added to accommodate everyone. It would be so cool if you could do a video tour of the whole thing. How many acres/how large of a lot? It seems huge, lol!

    1. When my parents bought the house 25+ years ago it was 1800 square feet. Over the course of 20+years it has grown to over 5000 sq.ft. Lots of tv rooms, bathrooms and two kitchens. My grand parents are on one end , we are in the middle and my parents are on the other far end of the house. The basement is fully refinished with about 1800 sq. feet in it, office, bathroom and family room.

  4. I just stumbled upon your blog, Jessica and I can’t wait to go through it all and read it properly. We are three generations living under one roof (aged 9 to 86) and sometimes I feel we are the only family doing this. My peers usually tell me there is no way they could do it and either offer me their sympathy or tell me what a wonderful, caring person I must be – which is often code for “crazy”. Anyway, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found a kindred spirit. Cheers, Winnie from Australia.

    1. That is great Winnie! I often get the “are you crazy” look as well ๐Ÿ™‚ hehe . Stay in touch!

  5. Jessica…I have been in your shoes! 25 years ago this last month, I married the man of my dreams!….AND….moved into his parents home, along with his younger sister, his oldest brother (with wife and daughter…and soon to be baby boy), his grandparents, and for a short time his other older brother. It was crazy at times! I admire your family’s love and devotion to one another! Oh, and you do have a beautiful home!! BTW what is the blue wall color in the family room?

    1. Wowza!!! That is a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚ The color is whythe blue and white dove by Benjamin Moore ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. We have 4 generations of a mix mash up of both side of my family under one roof! Yes it is hectic and crazy at times but we love it! I feel like no matter what my kids are beyond blessed with the time they get with great grandma in the house with us! So we have us, my grandma and my husbands father all together! Personal space is limited but getting better each day!

  7. Hi Jessica,
    I have just found your blog and had to say what a welcome relief it is to hear that we aren’t the only ones doing this. We are three generations under one roof and have been living like this for five years. It has been a stressful journey at times and sometimes feel quite alone as most people think we are bonkers! I can’t wait to read through the rest of your blog to find some inspiration. We are currently trying to work out how best to extend our tiny bungalow in the UK to give us all what we need.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this blog together.

    1. I have 3 generations under one roof. It came about when my husband lost his job and we had no choice. It’s still necessary as he’s underemployed in this economy. But now we also see it as necessary because my MIL is pretty disabled. She needs me. BUT space is very, very limited. We started with 1200 square feet and closed in the garage to create a master bedroom for my husband and I. So now the house is more like 1550. Still only 2 bathrooms, so MIL has the original master bedroom and bath, my family of 4 shares one bathroom. We all have our own room to escape to, so I guess it’s okay. My struggle is that because we moved into her home, I don’t feel that I can change anything to accommodate my tastes in the kitchen and living room. Our dining room is now her office space. So we have no family dining space (kitchen is tiny). Any advice about how to have these conversations about changing decor? She’s 81 and hates change. I don’t want to insult her by telling her the couches and decor in the family room is hideous but I am going on a year now of feeling like I can’t have my friends over because I am embarrassed that I live in “grandma’s house”. I think you have done a tremendous job there and it looks like bliss, but some of us have to do this in much smaller and more modest spaces that create difficulty. The challenge of different decor tastes is one that I can’t figure out how to solve.

  8. Mid America Mom says:

    Thanks for sharing this! We have had times with 3 generations under my parents roof. Some people do react strangely but others do not. I have known many people that have lived with extended family and in some cultures it is quite normal.

    Odd situations come up. When we registered our child for school there was an issue. Since we did not have a lease or on the mortgage the school insisted that I sign the other option – living with someone or I would be homeless. What???