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Adding an In-Law Living Space to Your Home

Adding an In-Law Living Space to Your Home

As assisted living costs continue to rise, older Americans are choosing to move in with their children and grandkids. But instead of taking the spare bedroom upstairs, they’re moving into their own private in-law suite.

An in-law suite or apartment is a private space for in-laws or parents that is usually attached to or located on the same lot as their grown child’s home. Many in-law suites are custom-built home additions, though converted garages, basements and stand-alone guest houses are also common. These types of dwellings are also referred to as “mother-in-law” suites or “granny apartments”.

If you are considering adding an in-law space to your home, remember, limited space can present unique challenges for furniture and storage. However, there are a few tried and true methods to maximize your space.

• Zone Living
If your in-law suite has a small living space that serves as kitchen, dining room, and living room all in one, create zones for each use. Use rugs to define the living area, then consider a rug of a different texture or shape for the dining area. Make sure your kitchen storage stays in the kitchen area. No need to have the zones bleed over into one another.

•  Use Neutral Colors
It’s a great idea to use neutral colors on walls, floor, ceiling and furniture fabric. A palette of off-whites or beiges will expand the space by appearing to push back the walls.  Soft hues reflect light and will add dimensions to the space. Add pops of color with throws or rugs, but stick to a neutral color for furniture and paint.

• Think Taller
Since space is likely limited, utilize the space above the eyeline. Go up with tall storage options, like a vertical bookcase. Look for one that is tall and thin. It won’t take up much floor space but will utilize the space near the ceiling. Pieces like this also bring the eye up, making smaller dimensions look more spacious.


• Lightweight Furniture Choices
Pick out pieces that have a lightweight appearance as opposed to heavier ones which will overwhelm a small space. For example, select pieces that have slender legs and sleek lines while avoiding those that are boxy. Glass coffee or end tables will take up less visual space than wooden ones because you can see through them. Any furnishings that don’t obstruct views will make an area seem more open.


It may take a bit of creativity, but you can make your in-law suite feel special and cozy.