published work

May 01 2012

Design NJ: Not Home Alone

Extended families living under one roof generally have not been a part of American culture. But that’s changing because of the bad economy coupled with longer lives. Elderly parents may have no option beyond moving in with their children. And their children’s children—cash-strapped and jobless—are increasingly moving back in with their parents.

As designer Sheila Rich puts it, “People are outliving their money, while the kids are graduating college with huge debts.”

Those moving in with Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, though, can include a host of others beyond senior parents and adult children, designer Diane Boyer notes. The new residents might be other economically challenged relatives, working couples’ live-in housekeeping or child-care staff, and children who regularly visit a divorced parent. “There’s just a lot of movement going on,” Boyer says.

It all adds up to some big challenges. How do you convert your existing space to additional living quarters? What issues are involved in building an addition? How do you address new residents’ special needs? How can you make everyone as comfortable as possible?

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