Key Features of Multi-Generational Homes

In 2012, Paul wrote a guest post for's Boston Real Estate Now blog. The post was on renovating homes for multi-generational living as a tough job market encouraged many adult children to move back home. You can read the post here: Catch the Multi-Generational Housing Wave.

Fast forward three years later, and multi-generational housing is still generating a lot of buzz.

According to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report:

"Thirteen percent of all buyers purchased a multi-generational home, one in which the home consists of adult children over the age of 18, and/or grandparents residing in the home. This is most prevalent among Younger Boomers aged 50 to 59 at 21 percent. The most common reason for this living arrangement among Younger Boomers was children over 18 moving back into the house (37percent), followed by health/caretaking of aging parents (21percent)."

The report went on to say that cost savings were behind 24 percent of the decisions to make a multi-generational home purchase. In a high-priced real estate market such as Boston, multi-generational living has particular appeal as a cost-savings measure.

As Paul pointed out in his 2012 blog post, homes that are best suited for multi-generational living offer:

Privacy with Proximity
Successful multi-generational living requires a fine balance between private and communal spaces. Separate entrances, morning bars or kitchenettes in bedroom suites, and sitting rooms provide much-needed privacy. A large, open kitchen/eating/living area is ideal when the family comes together.

Flexible Spaces
Flexible spaces can be easily transformed to function for different purposes and ages. For example, an underused living room and sunroom may transition into a home office, then an in-law suite, then a space for an adult child who moves home, then an entertainment area.

Universal Design
Universal design works hand-in-hand with flexible spaces to create environments that are usable by all people. Hallways that are wide enough to accommodate a wheel chair and zero entry thresholds are classic examples of universal design features.

Of course, the big question once you have crafted (or bought) the perfect home, is how multi-generational living will work. We were delighted that Houzz recently devoted an article on the topic. We've shared the article as a slide show below. Just click any of the images to read the full article on Houzz.

 If you are considering remodeling a Boston area home for multi-generational living, please give us a call at 617-666-4460 or contact us by using our online form. We'd love to share our insights to help you create a home that works well for various lifestyles!


Tags: home renovation, remodeling,, multi-generational homes

Will This House Last?

Paul wrote a post for the Real Estate Today blog on The post was published on September 20, 2012. If you missed it, here's the text of his article:

Paul MorseBuying an older home is a lot like buying a used car in a private sale. You can have it checked out by an expert, but there are no guarantees that something won’t wear out or malfunction – and no warranties if they do.

I’ve worked with homeowners who bought homes with leaks that were temporarily hidden by paint, insulation that had settled so much that it was virtually nonexistent, and basements that turned out to have serious water problems. The prior owner or home inspector may know of and disclose the potential for future problems, but often they come as a complete surprise.

A few years ago, the National Association of Home Builders conducted a study on the life expectancy of home components. Here are a few highlights:

  • A foundation should last forever, but termite proofing will only last about 12 years
  • HVAC systems last an average of 15-25 years with proper and regular maintenance
  • A slate roof can last 50 years or more; a roof made of asphalt shingles lasts an average of 20 years (although it may be less with the tough Boston weather)
  • Wood windows last longer than aluminum – 30 years versus 15 to 20
  • Stairs and custom millwork should last a lifetime
  • Kitchen faucets should last about 15 years, but a whirlpool tub could keep going as long as 50 if you don’t use it much
  • Decks could last 20 years, depending upon the materials used

 In my renovation work, I frequently encounter structural or infrastructure problems such as window headers that are not framed to meet today’s code; original balloon framing without floorload support that meets today’s standards; joists that have been cut or notched in improperly done renovations; rotting wood hidden by soffit and fascia boards; and electrical panels that will not support home improvements. These issues may dramatically affect the total cost of the project.

Maintenance and repairs are part of being a homeowner, but unexpected problems are no fun. Some of these surprises could be avoided if buyers ask questions such as “When were the windows installed?”  ”Have you replaced the roof since you’ve owned your home?” “ Have you installed insulation and when?” or  “Do you have a record of structural changes made to the house?” Answers to these questions will help anticipate future expenses.


Tags: home renovation,, home remodeling, Paul Morse

10 Fixes for Small Kitchen Problems

07 ga aftersmallHave a small kitchen? You may be able to make it feel larger and add functional space without adding to the square footage. In Paul's August post on the Real Estate Today blog on he shared a few tips.

Here's what he wrote:

If you plan to stay put but don’t want to add on, you can make your kitchen appear bigger and function better without gutting the space and starting over (although you can certainly do that too).

Here are 10 ways to make the most of a small kitchen:

1. Install frameless cabinets – Traditional cabinets have a frame. The doors and drawers fit within this frame, leaving a border around the functioning part of the cabinetry. Frameless cabinetry is built as a box. A cabinet door will completely cover the box, eliminating the need for spaces for framing between each cabinetry unit. Frameless cabinets add space to drawers and ease access to deeper spaces.

2. Expand work space – Tuck microwaves, coffee makers, knife racks etc. off the counter to maximize useable counter space and reduce visual distractions. Hang knives on metal wall strips, tuck the microwave under cabinetry and considering creating a breakfast bar with the coffee maker and toaster in an adjacent room. If the kitchen doesn’t have room for an island, invest in a rolling kitchen cart that can be brought out whenever extra work space is needed.

3. Flood the space with light –
Natural light is best, but great overhead and task lighting can make a small kitchen feel more spacious. If you can’t sacrifice wall space by creating or enlarging a window or pass-through to another room, be sure your kitchen feels bright through strategic artificial light.

4. Optimize cabinetry –
Make the most of existing cabinetry with small tweaks to maximize their storage potential. Install inserts in corner cabinets for more accessible storage, stretch the under-the-sink space around the pipes with special inserts for supplies, use the false front of the sink base for a pull down sponge or glove holder, or fill in odd spaces with custom cabinetry to hold spices, hanging utensils or tray storage.


Tags: kitchen design,, kitchen storage

Paul Morse talks about universal design in bathrooms on


Universal Design Doesn’t Mean Institutional Bathrooms

When you walk into a beautiful bathroom with a wide entrance, large shower with multiple shower heads, wall mirrors extending all the way to the sinks and adjustable cabinetry, I’m willing to bet that “universal design” is not the description that pops into your head.  Most people seem to equate universal design with accommodation for physical disabilities, which, unfortunately, often seems to mean an institutional look to many people.

Myth #1: Universal Design is just for people with physical disabilities or for aging in place.

Universal design is the art of creating environments that are usable by all people without the need for adaptation or specialized design.


Read the rest of Paul's article on's Real Estate Today

Tags:, universal design, Paul Morse, bathroom design