Design Today by Shea – Living In Multigenerational Households

by Kayla Kody on March 16, 2017


Multigenerational living may be a new development for our society, but it has long been practiced in other cultures. Creating this type of household structure allows families to come together under one roof to face the many trials of life such as raising a child, caring for elders, single parenthood, and the high cost of living and housing.

According to a recent Pew research report, nearly 1 in 5 Americans live in a multigenerational household. Student loans, lack of employment and getting married later contribute to approximately 60 million Americans living with multiple generations. The inability of many people to get back on their feet after the recession, as well as increased life longevity have also boosted demands for this type of housing. Some terms you’ll hear in association with multigenerational housing are “Sandwich Generation” and “Boomerang Kids.” Boomerang Kids are named for the adult children who choose to return to sharing a home with their parents after previously living on their own. Parents of millennials who are taking care of aging or ailing parents plus their millennial children are referred to as the Sandwich Generation.

When considering the floorplan design for these new multigenerational homes, there are 2 key elements that must be included: Privacy and Flexibility. For privacy in a multigenerational household the goal is to be separate yet connected. A separate living space that is in the confines of a single family home allows for more than one generation to live together, yet still have necessary privacy.

  • For aging generations such as grandparents it is ideal, and often times necessary for this separate living space to be on the main floor. Some great examples of this multigenerational floorplan exist in our Shea Homes® Charlotte –  Kingsley, Providence, and Grayson plans with guest suites on the outskirts of the home that are also located on the main floor.

Providence - main floor guest suite

Providence – main floor guest suite


Kingsley Bedroom 2 Multigenerational Living

Kingsley – main floor guest suite

Grayson Main floor Guest Suite

Grayson – main floor guest suite


To take privacy one step further in addition to the separate living space and bathroom, having separate entrances and kitchenettes allows for added independence. Some great examples of this exist in our Hampton and Oxford.

  • The Hampton features a second private entrance for it’s In-Law Suite
  • The Oxford features an In-Law Suite complete with sitting room, a flexible area that could later be converted.

Hampton - main floor guest suite private entrance

Hampton – main floor guest suite with semi-private entrance



Oxford – main floor In-Law suite with semi-private entrance and sitting area

When considering returning millennials privacy still plays an important role, however the level of the home that this privacy is provided on is less essential. Adding an additional owner’s suite, or adding a bathroom to an existing rec or bonus room are all feasible options.

  • One of our favorite customizations was the addition of a step-up flex space off of an upstairs bedroom to be utilized by a returning adult millennial. Small storage areas are also great spaces to include.
  • Turning upstairs rec or bonus rooms into a master bedroom and bathroom for a millennial (or allowing a live-in grandparent to take the original master on the main floor) is another adaptation we have seen.
  • Our Alexander plan offers dual master suites – which can be an ideal design for collaboration between generations. This layout also works well for siblings or roommates.

additional flex and storage space for millenial

Upstairs Bedroom with added Flex and storage space


Rec Room turned master

Rec Room turned Master Bedroom


Alexander first floor

Alexander plan 1st floor

Alexander 2nd floor

Alexander plan 2nd floor – Dual optional Owner’s Suite shown

The above multigenerational  floorplans all have one thing in common, flexibility. Flexibility in the design and versatile spaces can help to support a family as it grows and changes. If your new home is not initially multigenerational but you anticipate the possibility of welcoming other family members, here are some elements you may want to think about.

  • Use 1st floor guest suites for present needs while anticipating future requirements for elderly parents. Walk in showers instead of tubs, adding grab bars, and making doorways wider will all be useful later.
  • Small details like lever door handles, raised height commodes, and rocker light switches will make a difference.
  • Keep elements simple and flexible so it is easy to adapt spaces as a family’s wants and needs evolve.

Families today are recognizing both the emotional and economic benefits that multigenerational housing provides. Although financial reasons are often cited as the primary motivator, living with your family can be fulfilling and enjoyable.

  • Grandparents stay active and feel useful helping to care for young children.
  • Adult children can save money while going to school, finding a job or saving up to buy a home of their own.
  • Caring for elderly parents at home provides both financial savings and added time with them.

Families living in multigenerational homes have built-in opportunities to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships across generations. In 2017, we anticipate the demand for housing that accommodates several generations under one roof continue to rise across all demographics and regions. With planning and foresight bringing family members together in a multigenerational home can be a joyful time to share and treasure for everyone in the family.

Brokers must accompany prospects on their first visit to register. Pricing and availability subject to change without notice. Sales by Shea Group Services, LLC DBA Shea Realty (C21630), Construction by Shea Builders, LLC, (68875). This is not an offer of real estate for sale, nor solicitation of an offer to buy to residents of any state or province in which registration and other legal requirements have not been fulfilled. Shea Homes is a registered trademark of Shea Homes Limited Partnership. Equal Housing Opportunity. Artist rendering subject to change. Photos depict optional items and other upgrades that may be available from Seller at an additional cost. Furniture and other designer features are not included or available for purchase (even upon the payment of an additional charge). © 2016 All rights reserved. We respect your privacy. Please view the Shea Homes Privacy Policy at

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gene Schnitzer April 25, 2017 at 8:56 am

Please send me all information;iIncluding floorplans, prices, hoa fees, taxes and. locations where you have multigenerational homes in NC. I have been looking for this type of home.


F.C. SCHWEIBEER June 3, 2017 at 8:26 am

Was glad to see NC is taking part in this much needed structure of housing. Also keep in mind, many do not want added FEES.. ie:..luxuary country club surroundings….but homes to just accomodate basic, every day living. Most of us can not afford the FRILL…USING SAVINGS FOR OUR RETIREMENT. … Sr. home prices under $200,00. Keeping housing areas with seniors in mind who just want/need to be close – having another area for their children with families would be a great senerio: Then the swimming, club houses, etc. etc. for that area would be required. IT WOULD ALLOW SENIORS TO BE CLOSE…HAVE THEIR FAMILES CLOSE…..yet not living multi. There is so much need for this and more than likely keep many out of facilities.

Info: InPut just for you……(my development has homes w/many seniors…and their children have bought homes just to be close and yet…..not close….) Not planned….has just worked that way.


Dorothy November 25, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Where can I get information on these


Dorothy November 25, 2017 at 5:52 pm

You can email information and prices and layouts to me


Sheri Troy November 28, 2017 at 11:50 am

Hello Dorothy,

Thank you for your interest in our communities. You are welcome to view all our homes including the floorplans, pricing, photos, videos, virtual tours, maps, and more by visiting our website. Here’s that link for you to check them out: Shea Homes Communities And if you do have questions, we’re here 7 days a week at: 866.696.7432, thank you!


J December 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm

We need a multigeneratiional home in Northridge, Porter Ranch area. Also, will consider Walnut.
Need a space with separate kitchennette and bathroom, similar to your Umbria plans in Tracy, CA.

Can you please send me info on those? Thank you.


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