For more articles on multigenerational living, take a look at The Rise of Multigenerational Living and Multigenerational Living Part 2: Designing the In-Law Suite.

When your folks come to live with you, it’s good to be prepared for anything they need. Whether you’re revamping a guest area or building a whole new room addition, here at Collom Construction we have some design and functionality tips to help your relatives feel more relaxed about their new surroundings in their in-law suite. Not only will these tips help them get around easier, but they’ll feel more comfortable and independent while still maintaining close ties with your family. From faucets and fixtures to making room for mobility equipment, we have you covered. Let’s take a look!


When considering the most easy-to-use kitchen faucet for your older tenant, it’s generally advised to stay away from knobs or twisting handles. Aim for a lever or two that are easy to lift or pull side to side to adjust the temperature. Another handy point is to have red and blue colored indicators on the corresponding hot or cold faucets. When installing the faucet, be sure that it’s one that is not too close to the bowl underneath. A tall faucet is best, so there’s lots of room for any size hands.

Thanks to advanced technology, there’s now the option of touch or motion sensor faucets as well. This way, there’s no need to stress their wrists grabbing handles or twisting knobs; just tap the faucet head or slip their hands under the faucet!


Our vision naturally begins to decline around age 40, and slowly becomes less responsive to light. Therefore, it’s safe to say that your elderly relatives may not enjoy or need the same type of lighting around the rest of your home.

One of the best ways to light up the in-law suite is natural lighting, utilizing big or frequently placed windows. Don’t paint the walls a dark color either; use light colored paint and furniture to brighten up the room or bathroom. If your in-law suite or the areas going to and from the suite have a set of stairs, we highly recommend having some step lights installed. They’re especially helpful when the house is dim and they need to get around. Adjustable recessed can lighting in the ceiling is also a great way to let your in-laws control the level of brightness in the room.

In terms of controls, there are quite a few options to choose from. If your in-law likes to be stationary for long periods, consider giving them a universal remote to control lighting. Otherwise, we can install timers, dimmers, or motion sensor controls that turn on the lights when they enter or leave a room.

Doors and Windows

Depending on your relative’s needs, there're two types of doors that can be installed: hollow core and solid core doors. Hollow core doors are less expensive, but are not impervious to noise. Solid core doors when installed properly are easy to open and can help control noise. If your in-laws prefer silence, consider installing a solid core door. Door knobs should be thought about like the faucet handles: it’s not recommended to have twisting knobs or handles that need tight grasping to open.

In regards to windows, the easier to open, the better. We recommend casement windows that open outwards with a hand crank. The crank makes it simpler to open and close without needing to reach out and pull the window. We also recommend automatic window blinds, to reduce the need to reach heights or exert themselves.

Mobility Accessories

As with most older relatives, your main issues could be their mobility around the house with their equipment. In these cases, Collom Construction or an experienced contractor can come in and widen hallways and doorways. This way, your in-laws or someone with physical challenges can move about with ease. If you're in need of ramps, we can install ramps that blend into your home and are easy to walk for both your in-laws and other family members.

Privacy for Your In-Law Suite

The solid core door we mentioned above is not the only solution for a relative who desires a quiet space away from the hustle and bustle of family life. If you’re building a new room addition with us, we can introduce you to our other noise reduction options such as: dual-glazed windows that are thicker on one side than normal window glass, ⅝ drywall, and interior wall insulation. By combining these tools, we can construct a well-insulated, quiet, and tranquil place for your in-laws to rest.

Contact Us to Make an Appointment

San Diego, CA is one of the best places in the country for aging couples to retire, with our beautiful weather and active atmosphere, and they’ll feel more at home with their family nearby. If you plan to move your in-laws into your San Diego home, contact us to schedule a free consultation with a licensed contractor. We would be happy to with assess with your home and discuss what your relatives may need, remodeling options, or even room addition options. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.