Pre-planning Tips to Design a Renovation or New Space to Meet the Whole Family’s Needs

By Tom Reilly

If you’re among the growing number of people taking part in the multi-generational living style—with several generations of the same family living under one roof—you may be realizing that your space isn’t functioning the way you’d like.

In some cases, young families are moving back in with their parents due to the economic downturn, loss of employment, student loan debt, and divorce. In other cases, senior parents are moving in with their adult children.

In all of these cases, the way people use the space in their home changes. And sometimes, these changes can create new challenges.

If this sounds familiar, now just may be the time to build an addition to make the living situation more functional.

Before you contact your contractor, here are are some pre -planning exercises I recommend, to get you thinking about what, exactly, your addition (or renovation) might include.

Grab a pad of paper. Make a list of what the room is not doing for you. Then on a separate page, make a list of what you want the room to do. Finally, write down some ideas you have for turning your “want” list into reality.

Here’s an example list below….

Things my space is not doing:

    • The bedroom has no space for a chair or two.
    • The kitchen was designed for only a few people and doesn’t accommodate my now-larger family.
    • The den or office is part of the TV room, and it’s hard to get work done if someone else is watching TV.
    • The multi-gen family has no room to survive.

Things I want the space to do:

    • I really like the view from the master bedroom, and it’d be nice to have a place where we could put a chair to read or enjoy the view while the rest of the family is in the living area.
    • I want my family to be able to work together in the kitchen without bumping into each other.
    • I’d like to have some privacy for my home office.

The addition will fix this by:

In the master bedroom, moving the wall out will create more space for a couple of chairs and a small end table. By moving that same wall, the kitchen will have more space to maneuver for full family food creation. The den/office can be on the far end of the house for some quiet privacy from the rest of the family.

Now that you have seen these examples, look at and consider the configuration of the spaces in your home. Is there a spare bedroom that the master could take over and not only create more sitting room, but also add some storage as well? How about the kitchen and the adjacent dining room that you hardly ever use?

The point here is to think about how your existing space could be reconstructed to meet the space and functional needs or your new living style with the whole family.