Today we are featuring a guest blogger, James Wentling, of the James Wentling/Architect firm in Philadelphia, PA. Here he is discussing the in’s and out’s of the in-law suite. I found myself in the exact situation James describes when my father died and my mother needed to live with us. We built on an “in-law suite,” just as James describes. The “separate, but connected” arrangement made life good for my mother and for us. I hope James’ advice is helpful to you. Let us know if you have any questions or comments. Here’s James:

I am asked from time to time whether we are seeing increased demand for multi-generational housing designs and I would have to say yes we are. With many boomers looking to care for aging parents, the addition of a potential in-law suite into some section of the house has broad appeal. Here are some of the common scenarios from recent designs:

Guest Suite Behind the Garage

The most common design theme for an in-law suite is simply adding a first floor bedroom with a private bath. A logical place for this seems to be behind the garage, separated from the living areas but with potential direct access from the side of the house. This space has multiple potential uses as a home office, guest suite or bedroom in addition to an in-law suite.

floorplan1kitchenette

With the bedroom, private bath and closet in the base design, options can be added to make the in-law suite more appealing. These can include a small kitchenette as well as a direct door from outside into the suite.

A Larger In-Law Suite

For buyers looking for a more dedicated in-law suite some additional elements may be added including an expanded kitchen, laundry and a spacious bath — with accessible fixtures. Wider doors and clearances between fixtures along with some grab bars, flexible shower heads and a seating in the tub or shower executed in a tasteful design will be well-received.

floorplan2shower

Adding a Garage and Living Room
Sometimes adding some more amenities to an in-law suite will make it more likely for the parents to be OK with moving in with the adult kids. Here the addition of a garage, living room, along with a front door with foyer and island kitchen adds to the privacy of the in-law quarters.

floorplan3diningisland

Second Floor Suites
In some cases a second floor in-law suite can be incorporated into the design. For many smaller lot housing designs a second floor suite may be necessary since the first floor space is limited. For some households mobility may not be an issue and if it does arise stair lifts can be added at a later time. Adding a small sitting room separate from the bedroom is an desirable space to add into an in-law suite.

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With any in-law suite design, accessibility, privacy and independence are all primary objectives. At the same time, access to the main part of the house is equally important. Multi-generational living was historically very common and the trend returning to that lifestyle now has broad appeal to many households.

Many thanks to James Wentling, today’s guest blogger. You can visit his website here.