A ‘multi-generational’ kitchen is the official term that is being used within the kitchen industry for family kitchens specifically designed to suit the needs of different generations who are living together in the same home.
According to KBB review a recent survey conducted by Aviva, the pensions and insurance provider, showed “there has been a jump in older relatives living with their children from 9 to 14% over the past 5 years. These older relatives living with their children now make up around 1.28 million households.”
The number of elderly parents who moved in with their younger adult children in the initial Covid lockdown of 2020 is likely to be one of the reasons for this increase. Many families decided that it would be the best way to take care of their loved ones without the need and expense of carers or residential homes.
For such households, the make-up of the family and how they live together varies. Some families have rebuilt to accommodate older loved ones, some already benefited from properties with existing annexes or granny flats, and others have just relinquished their spare rooms. However, regardless of the sleeping arrangements, it is the kitchen-dining space where the wider family tends to gather and are the areas that are used most frequently.
In this blog, we look at the growing need for such designs and the key things to consider when planning a kitchen for a multi-generational household.
The things to consider when planning a kitchen for a multi-generational home:
It’s no surprise that with more people living together the need for more food storage, more seating, and general space to move around is key. However, they’ll also be more dirty crocks and laundry, which are often overlooked!
Storage & the size of appliances is therefore key. You will always need more storage than you think, it’s worth considering how much space you will require for crockery and cookware, and then think about your needs for food storage separately.
When it comes to appliances, fridges and freezers come in all shapes and sizes. Capacity will be important with more family members to feed, but accessibility is also an important factor. For example, whilst larger American-style fridge freezers provide more capacity, they can be heavy to open and have shelves that are harder to reach, which might not be suitable for elderly relatives.
By opting for 2 dishwashers in your design, you can also ensure there are never any dirty crocks waiting on the side, helping to keep the worksurfaces clear and clutter free.
When planning a regular family kitchen, it is useful to consider how often you will eat together as a whole household, and what else you need a seat and surface for. For example, if you eat together as a family and entertain regularly, your kitchen will need space to house a large dining table. Also, if you use your kitchen to study or work, do you need an additional seating area that’s more comfortable?
Banquette seating integrated into an island not only helps to save space but is more accessible and practical for elderly relatives compared to breakfast bar-style. It also makes a more comfortable seat for home working or studying.
If your room is large enough, you might be able to incorporate both. Bar-style seating will provide younger relatives and guests somewhere to perch for quick bites and coffee catchups.
With multigenerational family members living together it is very likely that there will be more than one person preparing food at any one time. Therefore, by planning your kitchen to accommodate at least 2 chefs, there will always be ample room for this.
Design details that won’t compromise on the layout include longer, thinner central islands, as they will create more space to be able to move around, and you can even include adjustable height worksurfaces which are perfect for wheelchair users or a family with significant height differences.
In addition to refrigeration, having enough storage for dried food goods and medications is something to factor in.
Walk in pantries and standalone larders work well in large family households as they can be made to suit the capacity required, and can also be customised to store specific items, allowing family members to have their favourite snacks organised and accessible in different sections.
For mornings, breakfast cupboards are also perfect for busy family kitchens, as everything can be stored in one place, including small accessories such as coffee machines and toasters, helping to keep the main worksurface clear and clutter free.
Broken plan vs open plan layout
Over the last decade open plan layouts have been popular with homeowners combining their kitchen and dining areas to create one large family space. However, these rooms can often be loud and echoey due to there being less surfaces for the sound to be absorbed.
In recent times with Covid lockdowns and more flexible working, the need for individual space and privacy has increased, and in larger family households this is also the case, with different generations not always wanting to socialise as one group or listening to/watching the same things.
It’s for these reasons that broken plan layouts are starting to become prominent again. However, rather than moving back to the traditional, fixed-walled separate kitchen dining rooms, there are now endless options to create room divisions, which create an open-plan space when desired.
The most common area to separate is the snug/living area, as this allows family members to watch/listen to music away from the sounds of the main kitchen area, as well as providing a cosier space to relax in post dinner.
Quality is crucial
As we acknowledged previously, this room will be used by all the family, and for several times a day, every day. Therefore, investing in good quality cabinets and fittings to the best of your budget will be pay off in the long run.
Ultimately, if you are planning on being in your home for a long time, a good quality kitchen is worth the investment: as if it is made and fitted well it should last a lifetime.
If you are looking to plan a new family kitchen, why not contact our team today to arrange a free design consultation?