A mother-in-law suite is simply a private living area within a home or elsewhere on your property. In many cases, the term references anything from luxury sheds to bathhouses to home additions. The most common definition, however, would put this additional living space above the garage.
The key factors in a mother-in-law suite are a sleeping space, a bathroom, and a separate entrance from the main dwelling. However, a mother-in-law suite may also include a kitchenette and a dedicated laundry room and appliances.
An addition over the garage offers plenty of possibilities. If it isn’t used as a permanent residence for an elderly parent or adult children, the finished, functional space can also be used as a home office or gym.
Homeowners may also invest in a mother-in-law suite to welcome guests. With the rise of short-term vacation rentals, a mother-in-law suite serves as an additional source of income that may recoup the initial investment in the long term. One survey from 2019 indicated that travelers now prefer Airbnb or VRBO-style rentals over a traditional hotel stay.
Mother-in-law suites are growing in popularity, but it isn’t just the Airbnb effect. According to one study, roughly 41% of Americans in the process of buying a home want or need to accommodate an elderly parent or an adult child. That means having plenty of space—and especially private space—is a premium for both current and prospective homeowners.
Depending on your short- and long-term plans for the mother-in-law suite, make a list of attributes that will play an important part in the design process. For example, if the renovation is for an elderly loved one, make sure you can address mobility issues today and potentially in the years to come when a ramp might be safer than stairs.
These days, considerations like Wi-Fi, internet and cable access are also worth building into your plan.
Many important design elements of a mother-in-law suite match the considerations of anyone looking to build safety and independence into their remodel. We often point out the importance of certain priorities to keep elderly loved ones safe and comfortable.
Save Valuable Space with a Wallbed
Murphy beds, or wallbeds, save space because the bed folds up flat against a wall when not being used. The configuration of the unit allows for the bed to be stored either vertically or horizontally to provide the best utility and aesthetic.
Combining natural and artificial lighting improves mood and increases visibility for those who may have issues seeing in low-light conditions. Designing windows and divided spaces to maximize natural light can have a wonderful effect on the space.
Safe and Accessible Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms for seniors living by themselves. Be sure to include grab rails and textured non-slip surfaces to avoid falls. If you’re adding a full bathroom or half-bath, opt for curbless walk-in showers with grab bars installed. Not only is the design modern and trendy, but it’s also a safer way for seniors to access the shower.