The Goods

Steven Sabados' secrets for designing the ultimate grandparents' suite

How to reshape your home so everyone can thrive under one roof

How to reshape your home so everyone can thrive under one roof

While far from a new concept, multi-generational homes are the fastest growing type of household in Canada right now, but if your home isn't prepared, you might face some serious growing pains trying to make a space work for everyone. While some people are renovating their backyard sheds to create beautiful additional living spaces, it's not the most practical option out there. And as the demand for multi-family housing rises in Canada, architects are also noticing that "grandparents' suites" are becoming almost mandatory in newly built large homes. Ideally, a suite of this nature should be self-contained with access to an ensuite bathroom and the outdoors on the main floor, maybe even with its own entrance for extra comfort and space for all. So whether your parents or in-laws are moving in, or you're keeping design in mind as you age, Steven Sabados came up with some simple ways to help reshape your home so everyone can thrive under one roof.

Focus on the main level

This shift toward developers building multigenerational homes has a huge effect on layouts, especially on the ground floor of a home, since it is more likely to be easily accessible to the older generation. The kitchen is still the hub of the home, but we are seeing new designs that veer away from additional dining spaces and secondary living spaces like a den or office on the main floor. This is all to make way for room for grandparents' suites. Open concept is also great for this type of living, as grandparents often become caregivers for children.

Opt for solid and stable furniture

As with any bedroom, the bed is still the focus but in this instance Steven suggests opting for a four poster bed. This style of bed post acts as a solid and stable ground to hang onto if you need assistance getting up.

The contrast between vertical and horizontal planes, like the four poster bed, gives a real sense of space, which can be incredibly practical for anyone experiencing deteriorating eyesight. With that in mind, Steven picked a darker bed frame, but painted the wall to match the headboard upholstery. He chose a contrasting colour for the nightstand and dresser, opting for a classic hunter green. It is a well balanced shade, but keeps the needs of aging parents or grandparents in mind by standing out from the wall colour, making it easier to see in low light.

Make sure everything flows

Everything should be easily accessed and accent furniture should be arranged accordingly so that the space flows.  For a room with full functionality, remove any tripping hazards so that walkers, wheelchairs, or canes are all able to navigate the space. If you have wood floors, remove area rugs or opt for wall to wall broadloom. As a rule, leave about 36" around a bed for clear passage.

Accent accordingly

While downsizing may mean saying goodbye to a lot of  furniture, it's easy to keep photos and family heirlooms on display. This smaller space functions as a sort of bachelor apartment, so while the bed may be the focal point, decor accents are still a wonderful way to personalize the space, just as with any room in your home.

Make life easier with technology

Smart home technology can be great for anyone, but it's especially useful for anyone with limited mobility. In the case of Smarthome, it's as simple as speaking to the device. The radio, lighting, temperature, television, even a smart vacuum can all be controlled by devices like this, greatly helping those with mobility issues.

In emergency situations we tend to revert to what we know best. For those of us who haven't grown up with endless technological possibilities, a simple call to 911 is about picking up an actual phone, so be sure that the buttons are easy to read. 

For those with mobility issues or who require some assistance, Steven recommends another great idea. Install a wireless doorbell on the side of the bedside table and if there is a problem, they can just push it.

There you have it, some simple and chic design tips to keep in mind as you or your parents age.

Resource guide

Ethan Allen


  • Green Pillows

Of Things Past

  • Artwork



Benjamin Moore

  • Paint - Cloud White - CC-40

Brought to you by: