Part 1 was all about peace of mind in maximising accessibility and minimising risks in the in-law suite. Now we make it comfortable and inviting:
Privacy and independence
This part is actually just as important because you don’t want the suite to seem clinical nor do you want it to be merely an extension of your house. Your parents or in-laws would definitely appreciate your efforts to provide them their own space to maintain their lifestyle. That way, they won’t feel like they’re burdening the family, which no parent or in-law ever wants to do.
One way to give them privacy is to soundproof the suite. You can shore up the insulation, which will also help maintain a steady room temperature. You can also use dual layers of dry wall or even special soundproofing mats behind the walls, doors, and ceiling. Solid soundproofing will allow both households to carry on their day-to-day lives without disturbing each other.
Even if the suite is small, try to set aside a sitting area with armchairs and a couch. This will give them a place to read and watch television. Above all, they’ll have an area to entertain guests while keeping up with their social lives.
Providing them with a spacious walk-in closet is a great way to increase their storage space. After all, they’re now packing their entire life into one suite and a large walk-in closet would help a lot in de-cluttering their living space.
For convenience, make sure that cabinets, shelves, and drawers are no higher than shoulder-height. This is so that they don’t have to reach too far up and risk injuring themselves. Also, give them independent control of light switches, heat, and air conditioning. It’s another way they can adjust the environment to their liking on their own.
Check first with municipal authorities to see if you’re allowed to have a full kitchen in the in-law suite. A full kitchen – including a stove, fridge, and sink – would give the greatest independence to your parents or in-laws. If it’s not possible to install a full kitchen, then include these at the very least: fridge, sink, microwave, and a portable double-burner cooking plate. Remember to also set up a table and chairs for taking meals there.
For the bathroom, make sure that the shower stall doesn’t have a curb that’ll present a tripping hazard. It’s also a good idea to include a stable, waterproof seat inside the stall so that your parents or in-laws have the option of sitting down during showers. Install a showerhead that has both an overhead fixture and a hand-held extension. The hand-held extension is great for when they’re sitting down for their showers. It’s a nice luxury touch, too, if the showerhead has a spa-like body-spray function. Handrails – with reinforced wall backing support – in the shower stall and around the toilet are essential for safety. However, they don’t have to be the cold, stainless steel hospital-style types either. To make the bathroom feel more stylish and warm, choose handrails with designs and materials that match the rest of the bathroom hardware. The handrails will then serve not only a functional safety purpose, but also as a decorative feature.
It can be challenging having your parents or in-laws move back in with you. But as long as respect is at the core of every interaction, solutions can be found for everything and everyone will appreciate one another’s company. Take the time to ask them what they need and really listen to them. By all means, voice your own needs as well. What’s most important is always keeping a dialogue going so that nothing ever gets lost in assumption.