Creating The Perfect In-Law Suite (If That's Possible)

Off the top of your head, the term "perfect in-law suite" may seem like an oxymoron. That is, if you buy into the old comedy punch line about the best visit from a mother-in-law being a short one.

Well, we're not just talking about visits here, but a long-lasting residency. And we're not talking about your in-law keeping watch over his or her beloved baby, protecting him or her from their better half. We're talking about sharing a space in your domicile with an in-law or in-laws for one of a variety of heartfelt reasons.

Often, a single parent is unable to care for themselves any longer due to age. Or maybe, especially in the case of the sudden death of a partner, they aren't prepared to be alone emotionally. More and more, it's the parents of a young child looking for a full-time baby-sitter who talk Grandma into moving in. No matter what the reason, there are a number of things to consider.

Check The Law First

The first thing to do before designing or pricing a new addition or room makeover for a new tenant is to check local community codes for any restrictions, such as the number of kitchens allowed under one residential roof or separate entrances. And sometimes such considerations are dependent on who exactly the new border is; for example, a relative vs. a non-relative.

Once you have these answers and there are no red flags, ask yourself a couple of questions: 

  • What is the physical condition of the occupant-to-be? If they are somewhat frail, a bathroom complete with senior-friendly amenities will probably be required. For example, tub and shower railings and raised toilets. Certainly, for an elderly person, no-slip flooring may be a must. This decision – and the overall flooring decision(s), in general – is important. Visit your local ProSource Showroom for the best flooring choices for your in-law suite. 
  • Just how independent is the occupant of the new in-law suite? Can they truly live on their own, necessitating a kitchen and dining area, in addition to a bathroom, bedroom and living space? If so, the ProSource product catalog provides a great selection of sinks, faucets, cabinets and cabinet hardware.

A Matter Of Pride

Does the degree of desired privacy mean that a separate entrance should be constructed? Yes, they may be family, but that doesn't mean they want to be with you all the time. 
Studies have shown how important it is to allow an older-generation relative feel as though they do, indeed, have their own space so as to prove to themselves that they can be independent. Even the most basic of spaces – say, a simple kitchenette with a small table, microwave, sink and fridge – will facilitate a feeling of freedom and, thereby, worth.

Here are some other design feature considerations: 

  • Make areas of this new space as spacious as possible, with consideration for wider doorways, and grab bars and handrails throughout.
  • Install separate light, heat and air-conditioning controls, as well as smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Choose easy-open door and drawer hardware.
  • Place electrical outlets on both sides of the bed.
  • Consider installing emergency call buttons or at least a jack.
  • Install a separate phone line, Internet connection, and cable jacks, and perhaps a stereo system unique to the suite.

Review the inspiration and online product catalog for design ideas, and add images you like to your myProSource Project Center.

When it comes to flooring and fixtures, there are few, if any, experts more knowledgeable than the ProSource team and their network of trade pro members. Visit your local showroom to start your in-law suite project today.

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