5 Typologies of Multigenerational Family Homes

May 8, 2024

Discover the 5 typologies of multigenerational homes, from extended family homes to co-housing communities. Elevate family connections today!

Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational homes, where multiple generations of a family live under one roof, have been on the rise in recent years. This shift in living arrangements reflects the changing dynamics of families and the desire to foster stronger family connections. Let's explore the reasons behind the rise of multigenerational homes and the benefits they offer.

The Rise of Multigenerational Homes

Multigenerational living has gained popularity for several reasons. Economic factors, such as rising housing costs and the need to share expenses, have played a significant role. Additionally, cultural factors, changing family dynamics, and the desire to care for aging parents or provide support to adult children have also contributed to the increase in multigenerational homes.

According to recent data, the number of multigenerational households in the United States has been steadily rising. In 2016, a record 64 million Americans, or 20% of the population, lived in multigenerational homes. This trend is projected to continue as families recognize the advantages and positive impact of living together.

Benefits of Living in a Multigenerational Household

Living in a multigenerational household offers numerous benefits for all family members involved. Here are some key advantages:


Enhanced support system

Shared financial responsibilities

Opportunities for shared caregiving

Strengthened family bonds

Cultural preservation and passing down traditions

Learning from different generations

Increased childcare options

Reduced isolation and loneliness for older adults

By sharing a home, family members can pool their resources, both financial and emotional, resulting in a more stable and supportive environment. Multigenerational living also allows for the sharing of caregiving responsibilities, making it easier to care for children, aging parents, or family members with special needs.

In addition to the practical benefits, living in a multigenerational household can foster stronger family bonds and provide a sense of belonging and security. It offers an opportunity for different generations to learn from one another, share experiences, and pass down family traditions and cultural values.

Understanding the rise of multigenerational homes and the benefits they provide lays the foundation for exploring the different typologies available. Whether it's extended family homes, accessory dwelling units, or co-housing communities, each typology offers unique advantages suited to the specific needs and preferences of the families involved.

Typologies of Multigenerational Homes

Multigenerational living has become increasingly popular, and there are various typologies of homes that cater to the needs of multiple generations living under one roof. Here are five common typologies of multigenerational homes:

Extended Family Homes

Extended family homes are traditional houses where multiple generations of a family live together. These homes often have separate bedrooms and living spaces for each family unit, allowing for privacy and independence. Shared spaces like the kitchen, dining area, and common areas foster togetherness and family bonding.

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Homes

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) homes, also known as granny flats or mother-in-law suites, are separate living spaces within or attached to a single-family home. ADUs can be independent structures, converted garages, or basement apartments. They provide a sense of autonomy while still allowing for close proximity to the main house and the rest of the family.

Duplex or Multi-Unit Homes

Duplex or multi-unit homes are properties that consist of two or more separate living units, each with its own entrance, kitchen, and living space. This typology allows for each family unit to have their own private space, while still being in close proximity to other family members. It offers the flexibility to accommodate different family sizes and dynamics.

Connected Suites within a Single-Family Home

Connected suites within a single-family home are designed to have a separate living area, bedroom, and bathroom that are connected to the main house. This arrangement provides the convenience of being close to family members while allowing for privacy and independence. It is particularly suitable for families who want to maintain a strong sense of togetherness.

Granny Flats or In-Law Suites

Granny flats or in-law suites are self-contained living spaces that are separate from the main house but located on the same property. They typically have their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and living area. Granny flats offer a balance of privacy and connection, allowing family members to live in close proximity while still having their own space.

Co-Housing Communities

Co-housing communities are intentional communities where multiple households come together to share common spaces and amenities. Each household has their own private living unit, while shared spaces like kitchens, dining areas, and recreational areas encourage social interaction and collaboration. Co-housing communities foster a strong sense of community and can be an ideal option for multigenerational living.

Choosing the right typology of multigenerational home depends on the specific needs and preferences of the family. Factors such as privacy, shared spaces, legal considerations, and cultural dynamics play a significant role in determining the most suitable typology for a multigenerational household.

Factors to Consider

When considering multigenerational living, there are several important factors to take into account. These factors can play a significant role in creating a harmonious and functional living environment for all family members involved.

Privacy and Independence

Maintaining privacy and independence is crucial in multigenerational homes. Each family member should have their own personal space where they can retreat to, ensuring a sense of autonomy and privacy. Additionally, it's important to establish boundaries and respect individual needs for privacy within shared spaces.

Shared Spaces and Amenities

Shared spaces and amenities are essential for promoting family bonding and interaction. These areas can include communal living rooms, kitchens, and outdoor spaces where family members can gather and spend quality time together. Having designated shared spaces helps foster a sense of togetherness and strengthens family connections.

Legal and Financial Considerations

Before embarking on multigenerational living, it's important to consider the legal and financial aspects. This can include discussing property ownership, mortgage arrangements, and legal agreements that outline responsibilities and expectations. Consulting with legal and financial professionals can provide guidance and ensure that all parties are protected.

Cultural and Generational Dynamics

Multigenerational homes often bring together individuals from different generations and cultural backgrounds. Understanding and respecting these dynamics is crucial for maintaining harmony within the household. Open and respectful communication, along with a willingness to embrace different perspectives, can help bridge generational and cultural gaps.

Accessibility and Aging in Place

Creating a home that is accessible and suitable for individuals of all ages and abilities is essential when considering multigenerational living. Features such as ramps, grab bars, and wider doorways can enhance accessibility. Additionally, designing spaces that can accommodate aging in place, such as incorporating a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor, can provide long-term convenience and comfort.

Resale Value and Future Flexibility

While multigenerational living is a long-term commitment, considering the resale value and future flexibility of the home is important. Opting for a versatile and adaptable layout can cater to changing family dynamics over time. This may involve incorporating flexible spaces that can be easily repurposed or converted to meet evolving needs.

By carefully considering these factors, families can create a multigenerational living arrangement that respects individual privacy, promotes togetherness, and accommodates the diverse needs of all family members.

Designing for Multigenerational Living

When it comes to creating a multigenerational living space, thoughtful design is key to ensuring the comfort and functionality of all family members. In this section, we will explore three important aspects of designing for multigenerational living: universal design principles, flexibility in layout and features, and creating separate spaces within shared areas.

Universal Design Principles

Universal design principles focus on creating spaces that are accessible and usable for people of all ages and abilities. By incorporating these principles into the design of a multigenerational home, you can promote inclusivity and enhance the overall living experience.

Consider the following universal design principles when designing a multigenerational home:

  • Accessible Entries: Ensure that the main entry and other access points are free from barriers, with features such as ramps or wide doorways for easy wheelchair access.
  • Single-floor Living: If possible, provide at least one bedroom and bathroom on the main floor to accommodate older adults or family members with mobility challenges.
  • Open Floor Plans: Create open and spacious floor plans that allow for easy movement and navigation, particularly for individuals with assistive devices.
  • Ample Lighting: Incorporate abundant natural light and well-designed artificial lighting to enhance visibility and reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Lever Handles: Install lever-style door handles and faucet fixtures that are easier to operate for individuals with limited hand mobility.

Flexibility in Layout and Features

Designing for multigenerational living requires flexibility in both the layout and features of the home. This allows for customization and adaptation as the needs of the family evolve over time.

Consider the following elements of flexibility in the design:

  • Convertible Spaces: Incorporate flexible spaces that can serve multiple functions, such as a home office that can be converted into a guest bedroom.
  • Modular Furniture: Utilize modular furniture and storage solutions that can be easily rearranged or reconfigured to accommodate changing needs.
  • Adjustable Features: Install adjustable shelving, countertops, and bathroom fixtures that can be modified to suit the height and accessibility requirements of different family members.
  • Multi-purpose Rooms: Design rooms that can serve multiple purposes, such as a living room that can also function as a play area or a dining room that can be used for family gatherings and celebrations.

Creating Separate Spaces within Shared Areas

While shared spaces are an integral part of multigenerational living, it's also important to create separate spaces within these shared areas to provide privacy and independence for each family member.

Consider the following strategies for creating separate spaces:

  • Zoning: Use furniture, room dividers, or visual cues to define different zones within shared spaces, allowing for individual activities and privacy.
  • Private Retreats: Designate specific areas, such as a reading nook or a cozy corner, where family members can retreat for some quiet time or personal reflection.
  • Separate Entrances: If possible, incorporate separate entrances or mudrooms to provide family members with their own designated entry points and storage areas.
  • Private Bathrooms: Consider incorporating ensuite bathrooms or additional bathrooms to ensure that each family member has their own private space for personal care.

By implementing these design considerations, you can create a multigenerational living environment that promotes inclusivity, flexibility, and privacy for all family members.

Making It Work

Living in a multigenerational household can bring many benefits, but it also requires effective communication, clear boundaries, and a balance between independence and togetherness. Here are some key strategies for making multigenerational living work:

Establishing Clear Communication

Clear communication is crucial in any family dynamic, but it becomes even more important in a multigenerational household. Open and honest communication helps to avoid misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and ensure that everyone's needs are met. Regular family meetings or check-ins can provide a dedicated space for discussions and decision-making. It's important to actively listen to each other, express concerns, and find mutually agreeable solutions.

Setting Boundaries and Expectations

Setting clear boundaries and expectations is essential to maintain privacy and respect within a multigenerational household. Each individual should have their own space and personal boundaries that are respected by others. Discussing and establishing household rules, such as quiet hours or shared responsibilities, can help create a harmonious living environment. It's important to be flexible and willing to compromise, finding a balance that works for everyone.

Balancing Independence and Togetherness

Finding the right balance between independence and togetherness is key to a successful multigenerational living arrangement. While it's important to respect each other's personal space and individuality, fostering opportunities for shared experiences and quality time can strengthen family bonds. Planning regular activities, such as family meals or outings, can create opportunities for connection and bonding. It's important to be mindful of each other's needs for alone time and personal space, while also nurturing a sense of togetherness and support.

By establishing clear communication, setting boundaries and expectations, and balancing independence with togetherness, multigenerational households can thrive. Each family will have their own unique dynamics and challenges, but with a commitment to open communication and mutual respect, a multigenerational home can be a source of love, support, and connection for all its members.