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In-law suite

With more generations living under one roof, in-law suites have become popular home features. This type of space provides a separate living area for one or more older parents of an adult child, and it can be configured in many ways, including as a free-standing building or a converted garage. Not only can an in-law suite help a parent live somewhat independently, but it can also serve as a residence for an older child, a home office, or a guest house if needed. As a result, our real estate agents point out, this flexible space can help increase the value of your home when it's time to sell.

Before you start planning an in-law suite, make sure to check any local laws or regulations that might affect your plans. Once you know what - if anything - is prohibited, you'll need to thoughtfully plan the space. The following are some of the best features you can add to your in-law suite to make it safe, comfortable, and practical:

  • Separate Control of Heating and Air Conditioning
    Installing a mini-split system in your in-law suite will allow residents to control the temperature in their space. This helps the main home as well as the suite to maintain a temperature that's comfortable for all residents and lets everyone avoid arguments about whether it's too hot or too cold. In addition, you can also adjust the thermostat to lower your heating and cooling costs if your in-law suite isn't occupied for a period of time.

  • Universal Design
    Universal design principles provide for all stages of life and for all people, regardless of their age or physical abilities. Using elements of this type of design can help keep your in-law safer as they age and their abilities may change. These elements can include wider doorways, no-slip flooring, grab bars, and handrails.

  • Separate Entrance
    An in-law suite with a separate entrance will help everyone have increased privacy and independence. This is especially important if you work from home or members of your family in the main home keep a different schedule from your in-law. Just make sure their separate entrance has any needed features, such as a ramp, to make it as safe as possible.

  • Kitchen or Kitchenette
    Having a kitchen or kitchenette in your in-law suite increases independence and privacy, giving the resident the choice of preparing a meal or snack on their own or eating with the rest of the family. Be sure to check any applicable laws before building a full kitchen since some areas may prohibit this in a single-family home. If a full kitchen isn't allowed, that usually means you can't have a stovetop, but you can include other features such as a refrigerator, microwave, sink and faucet, and cabinets.

  • Washer and Dryer
    If your in-law is physically capable of doing light loads of laundry, install an apartment-size stackable washer and dryer. The small size helps you maximize the available space.

  • Accessible Cabinetry
    Any cabinetry used in the suite's kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room needs to be accessible. Your in-law may have trouble reaching high cabinets or bending down to stock or get something out of lower cabinets. Bear in mind that if they don't have trouble with this now, they may in the future. Make sure all cabinets are easy to access and use.

  • The Right Color Palette
    Don't go too bold with color when you're choosing paint colors for your in-law suite. A peaceful palette of soft neutrals or cool shades of blue or green helps create a feeling of calm and will be unlikely to provoke a negative feeling or overwhelm what's probably a relatively small space. If your in-law likes some brighter colors, help them pick out accessories like throw pillows or a comforter in more vibrant hues.

  • Sitting Area
    Since a suite is supposed to be quite a bit more than a basic bedroom, you'll want to incorporate a sitting area, so the bed isn't the only place to sit or relax. Include a comfortable sofa and table at a minimum so your in-law will have a place to check e-mail or enjoy a cup of coffee.

  • Natural Light
    Natural light promotes both mental and physical well-being, so try to incorporate as much of it as possible in your in-law suite. This means having plenty of windows, and you'll want to include blinds that have easy operating mechanisms so the sun can be blocked out when needed.

Contact us to learn more about home improvements that can make your home more comfortable and functional while increasing its value. And when it comes time to sell your current home and move into a new one, we'd love to help you achieve your goals while making these transactions as smooth as possible.

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