Multigenerational living: DIY and home improvements for the expanding family

(BPT) – The American household is evolving. Traditional family households with parents and children up to 18 have transformed into a mix of various generations. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the growth of multigenerational households, including adults with boomerang children living at home after college, or aging parents living with them rather than at assisted living facilities.

While each household has its personal reasons for opting for a multigenerational structure, it’s a trend growing across cultures. One in five Americans live in a multigenerational household, according to the Pew Research Center, which defines multigenerational living as a home that includes two or more adult generations, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25. As quarantine and social-distancing impacts continue, the number of families choosing multigenerational living is poised to grow.

As the pandemic has shifted the way a home functions in multiple ways, more people are putting time into home-improvement projects that help a home function well for everyone who lives there. This is particularly important for people transitioning to multigenerational households. Consider three steps to help improve multigenerational living:

Step 1: Expand living space

When someone moves in, it’s amazing how what used to feel like ample space can suddenly seem very cramped. Space becomes a premium and with lack of adequate space to read, watch TV or simply sit to rest, home stress levels can rise fast. That’s why you may want to consider ways to add common spaces, or transform the space you do have to accommodate more people.

Finishing a basement is a smart option if you have financial means. You might also finish attic spaces or add a shed with seating and electricity. Stylish room partitions or curtains can provide privacy and the feeling of a room if you don’t have money to invest in a larger home-improvement project. Finally, consider refreshing outdoor spaces with seating spots grouped throughout the yard to expand the property’s livable space and encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.

Step 2: Add a bathroom without costly demo

When the number of people increases in a home, the bathroom becomes a hot commodity. Whether it’s to put a bathroom closer to an aging parent’s bedroom or simply add a powder room in a nontraditional location to expand resources, consider affordable options such as macerating toilets and drain pumps from Saniflo. These above-floor plumbing options allow you to add a bathroom where no conventional, below-floor plumbing exists, so there’s no need to bust through concrete floors and compromise a home’s integrity.

This was the case for designer and home-décor blogger Kristine Abram who dreamed of adding a bathroom in the basement of her Ohio farmhouse-style home for her kids to use. Unfortunately, the slope of the land would not allow her to build a conventional bathroom with below-floor drainage. She researched alternatives and found the Saniaccess 2: a 1/2-horsepower macerator pump system used to install a half-bathroom (toilet and sink) up to 15 feet below the sewer line. Learn more at

Step 3: Add and enhance entryways

With more people coming and going, entryways can become chaotic places in a home. If possible, consider refining the entry points to accommodate increased traffic and contain clutter. You may want to add benches and cubbies for each person’s personal items to help contain messes and prevent tripping hazards. Proper lighting, stable hooks and grab bars are also useful additions to accommodate multigenerational living.

Although you have a main entryway, you might also have other points of entry such as from the garage, the side or back of the home. Consider refreshing different entryways for different residents. For example, young adults just starting their careers may be coming and going a lot, so the door from the garage should be their main point of entrance. For aging parents with stability issues, the front entryway might be a good option, because it has railings and bright lighting. You can even change stairways into ramps if necessary.

Thinking strategically and making a few smart improvements, you can update your home so that it is comfortable for many people for many years to come.