Consider using extra home space for family

North America is getting bigger.

We have all seen the news reports about childhood obesity and the rise in average weight in our country but have you seen the size of our houses? In the past 40 years houses have increased by 1,000 sq. ft.

If you purchase a home built pre-1975 the chances of having more than one or two bathrooms is slim yet new homes are averaging three to four, often with an ensuite attached to every bedroom.

Although multigenerational housing is less common in our fair country, it would seem that we are in the perfect position to consider this option.

Yet many people are rattling around in thousands of unused square footage with their drawbridge pulled in tight, not allowing for extended family to move in with them. Once our little darling has finished grad school with a degree in Puppetry and (shockingly) can’t find a job – isn’t it our duty as parents to allow them to move back home?

Come on mom and dad; you know you want to disrupt your peaceful, clean life where you know exactly what is in your fridge and renovate your media room to convert it to a private bedroom retreat for the Master Puppeteer!

And how about your parents?

After decades in Arizona or Florida and countless cruises to the Bahamas they have suddenly run out of money!

The solution is for you to build an impossibly expensive double garage with a cottage addition for them to live out their last days in peace and for them to interfere in your adult life as much as possible. Sure there will be fresh muffins from time to time but the trade off is you may have to watch your aging father putter around the yard in his plaid boxer shorts.

Of course this is entirely tongue-in-cheek and I honestly believe that we should consider the merits of mutigenerational dwelling as tough times are forecast ahead. Countries all over the world have successful models for living with extended family members and more and more floor plans are being created for up/down duplex combinations which would allow you to live together yet separately with either aging parents or adult children (and even their children!)

Could you do it?

Would it be possible to permanently open your home to family?

I think that many movies and reality TV display this family dynamic of large gatherings at meal times, of grandparents looking after their grandchildren yet these living arrangements are foreign to most of us.

I have always admired grandparents who put their lives on hold and put a full-time effort into looking after grandchildren yet now that I am at THAT age of possibly becoming a grandmother the thought is not admirable at all!

With our homes getting larger and our mortgages getting longer, it may not be too far outside of the box to consider layering family again.

The financial benefits are obvious and the village you create will fill in the gaps in the stressed-out lives of new parents and freshly graduated university students. When you look around your home and see the spaces that are rarely used it might be a new inspiration to change up what we consider normal habitation and utilize your extra space for your family.

Kim Meckler is an interior designer with Carpet Colour Centre in Red Deer.

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