Parents are moving in with their adult children. College grads are coming home to Mom and Dad. Siblings are moving in with one another after a home foreclosure. Across America, the need for home design that supports multi-generational living is on the rise.
In 2008, an estimated 49 million Americans, or 16.1 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation, according to the Pew Research Center.
"Factors such as job losses, home foreclosures and a changing attitude toward multi-generational living have all contributed to the rise," said Sarah Reep, director of designer relations and education at KraftMaid Cabinetry. "Now families are finding relatives at both ends of the age spectrum living together under one roof."
To understand how this collision of social, economic and generational influences will impact kitchen design, Masco Cabinetry (home of the KraftMaid brand) commissioned a study called GenShift 2011.
"Living in a multi-generational home can be a great experience, but it can also be very challenging," added Reep. "It's important to take each generation's ideas and needs into consideration, especially when it comes to home design." To keep multi-generational households running smoothly, Reep recommends the following tips:
- Get creative with lighting. Different tasks and generations require various levels of lighting. A combination of recessed, pendant and under-cabinet lighting provides both aesthetics and functionality. Adding dimmer switches is a way to add even more flexibility.
- Add a splash of color. While monochromatic color schemes have been popular in recent years, older generations may prefer contrast between countertops and cabinets to maximize visual acuity.
- Vary countertop heights. Lowered counters will create a workspace for small children, wheelchair users and those who prefer to sit while preparing meals. Homeowners can also use the varied heights for different tasks, such as lower counters for kneading dough and higher counters for cutting vegetables.
- Install the right hardware. Older or smaller hands may have trouble grasping or pulling certain types of kitchen hardware. Consider larger drawer and cabinet handles that are easier to grasp and more ergonomically friendly.
- Keep counters clutter-free. The GenShift 2011 study found a common theme when it comes to kitchen cabinetry accessories—more storage in a clean design style. Creative storage solutions like pull-out cabinets create easily accessible storage places for "must-have" items.
For more design tips from Sarah Reep, visit www.kraftmaidbydesign.com.