Home trends reflect life trends; they are often poignant societal markers that can be easily related to their historical time-frame. Today's biggest trend in homes and remodeling reflects the need for home design that supports multi-generational living.
In 2008, an estimated 49 million Americans, or about 16 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. What's more is studies show these trends will continue.
“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.” These factors forged the creation of GenShift 2011: a conglomerate of companies, including KraftMaid Cabinetry, researching how lifestages are redefining kitchen design.
“Living in a multi-generational home can be a great experience, but it can also be very challenging,” said Reep. “It’s important to take each generation’s ideas and needs into consideration, especially when it comes to home design.”
The GenShift research brings to light generational differences in design and function that even many contractors are unaware of. For example, it is very common to see an area, and island or a furniture piece designed for wine storage in a remodeled kitchen. But did you know that 22% of homeowners feel that a place for feeding pets is of utmost importance in a kitchen whereas only 10% who feel they need a space to store wine. This is not what a Google search of beautiful kitchens would lead you to believe; this is just another reason why working with a professional remodeler who takes the time to ask questions and to listen is SO important. Good design works for your lifestyle and for your family - one size, or style, does not fit all!
Keeping that in mind, here are a few kitchen design elements that Sarah Reep recommends to create a home designed for all ages:
- 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.
- Add a splash of color. While monochromatic color schemes have been popular in recent years, older generations may prefer contrast between countertops and cabinets in order 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.