Designing a multigenerational home means creating space for home buyers who want to age in place surrounded by family—a new perspective on American family dynamics.

As we looked into the design themes of the 2017 reNEWable Home, one of the major factors to include beyond multigenerational living was aging in place design. A 2012 AARP study

Multigenerational design requires aging in place solutions.
Getty Images Multigenerational design requires aging in place solutions.

discovered 90% of seniors intended to continue living in their current home over the next five to 10 years. However, the study also identified that 50% of those seniors over age 70 can't live independently without some form of help.

Multigenerational design forces us to think about what kind of design changes we need to make in order to enable people to live in their homes longer.

Design principles for aging in place can be simplified into a few basic tenets:1. create and maintain an accessible path throughout the living space,
2. improve the ease of use and functionality of the home and its features, and
3. increase the adaptability and flexibility of room uses.

Single-floor living meets the above criteria and is a primary feature of aging in place design. Minimizing the need for stairs and level changes helps to alleviate concerns about homeowners falling or tripping. With the master suite, living room, kitchen, dining area, and outdoor living on the main floor of the reNEWable Living Home, there is no reason to leave the main level in order to live day to day.

In addition, special attention should be paid to door widths, hallway space, and room to maneuver between base cabinets and kitchens islands. The design for the reNEWable project includes 42-inch-wide hallways at a minimum and 48-inch to 60-inch-wide spaces in main circulation areas.

Ease of use features like drawer pulls rather than knobs, sliding trays in base cabinets rather than just doors, rocker light switches, lever door handles, and easily accessed appliances also are important. Leveled doorway transitions at the exterior sliders are essential for ease of access to the outdoor living space. In the reNEWable home, the corner window condition at the patio and living space opens up to allow easy movement between the two areas.

The reNEWable Living Home includes a living suite on the main level, which many label the "in-law suite.” From an aging in place perspective, this can serve multiple functions: a transitional space for a family member who needs some measure of care, or as a living space for a caregiver. The room is conveniently located near the kitchen and eating areas to enable quicker attention when required and easy access to the day-to-day action in the home. There's also a full living suite upstairs, accessed through the kitchen.

Details are important when designing for aging in place. The NAHB, in conjunction with AARP, offers a training and certification program called CAPS, Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Anyone who is serious about catering to the aging in place market should go through the CAPS program to stay current on all the design needs and solutions that are continually being updated.

Stay tuned to how this home provides for the needs of the multigenerational buyer by visiting and tour the home in Orlando in January 2018.