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Giving Parents A Space In Your Custom Home: What To Look For In A Mother-In-Law Suite

by April Carlson

Adding a mother-in-law suite to your custom home can be a great way to give your parents a place to stay when they are in town. The suite can also be used as an alternative to a nursing home or assisted living facility. When choosing a floor plan, there are several things to take into consideration. Use the following guide to help determine the layout and features that make the most sense for your new home.


Some suites are located on the second floor of a home or even above a garage. However, this option may not be ideal for senior parents. Negotiating stairs can become more difficult over time. Instead, work with your home builder to create a floor plan that is situated on the main floor of your home. If the dwelling will be above ground level, consider a gradual ramp leading to the entrance of the suite instead of a small staircase. You may also want to think about the directional placement of the suite. Windows facing east or west can disrupt sleeping schedules in the morning or the evenings.

Kitchen Layout

Depending on your parents' needs, you may want to add a kitchen or kitchenette to the suite. The features you have added to the kitchen area will depend on how active and healthy your parents are. For example, seniors with dementia may have a difficult time remembering to turn off a stove or oven. In this case, you may want to have your builder install a sink, dishwasher, and microwave. If you want to use the suite for all visiting guests, or if your parents are still able to cook for themselves, consider adding a stove and oven to the kitchen area. Be sure that the space is large enough for a walker or wheelchair to get through, as you'll want to plan for your parents' future needs as well as their current ones.

Separate Entrance

To keep your family and your parents more independent of each other, consider having a separate entrance to the mother-in-law suite added to your floor plan. This gives your parents the ability to come and go as they please, and it also creates a more private space for everyone. If a parent is suffering from dementia, think about having the entrance positioned toward the rear of the home so that it opens out into the backyard. In the event that your parent wanders out of the home, it will be easier to locate and assist him or her back into the house.

Living Space

To create more of an apartment feel and less of a spare bedroom setup, work with your custom home builder to create living spaces in the suite. This can consist of a simple living room, but you can also add a small breakfast nook to the suite. If your budget allows, you may also want to add a private balcony or patio. Your parents can add their own touch to the outdoor space with patio furniture, plants, and other items to make it look and feel more like a separate home inside of your custom house.

To learn more about custom home constructions, contact a contractor in your area.