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Space for Extended Family: Why You Should Consider a Duplex

Space for Extended Family: Why You Should Consider a Duplex
Many duplexes today look just like traditional homes.
In today's economy, more and more families are rediscovering the value of multigenerational living; that is, several generations (grandparents, grown children, other relatives) living together. Of course, such arrangements have long been traditional in some cultures, but with young adults increasingly priced out of the housing market (or even unable to afford an apartment), it's becoming more common for them to live at home longer.

But how can you preserve everyone's privacy (and sanity) living so close together? Home design plans with photos on social media make everything look so harmonious, but in the real world, nerves fray when everyone's too close.

That's where duplex floor plans come in. While the term may evoke a vision of nightmare downstairs neighbors or less-than-attractive developments from decades ago, today's duplex house plans will make you look again (your house builder may do a double take!). These smart designs maximize expensive land and deliver impressive style.

Maybe you've got an elderly parent who wants to live closer to you but isn't ready to give up independence. Many homes today include in-law suites, typically a generously sized bedroom (bigger than a bedroom for a child) with its own bathroom. Another solution is to construct a separate dwelling, often called a Granny Unit or Flat. These structures may be built behind the main home (or elsewhere on the property) and usually provide a small living area, a bedroom, and a bathroom, sometimes over a garage. 

But if your parent or in-law isn't ready to downsize that much, a duplex provides much more room. Plan 25-4562 (above) includes a spacious one-bedroom apartment that connects to the main home via the foyer and also offers its own front door.

Plan 124-803 shows off a farmhouse look that's charming (and very popular right now) with a single large gable and a wraparound porch. And indeed, the layout of the main floor looks pretty much like any contemporary three-bedroom home with an open layout.

But what's not so obvious is the separate entrance on the porch that leads upstairs to the unit on the second floor. See the door on the left? That's the way to the other unit. Up there, a second layout holds two bedrooms and an open living area. This smaller (but still spacious) floor plan would make a great home for a young family starting out, or perhaps a couple establishing themselves. The great room provides space for entertaining.

What if you're considering living with an elderly relative who may find it difficult to climb stairs? The ideal solution in that case is a side-by-side duplex, though it still doesn't have to look like one. Consider plan 935-3. With a charming clipped gable and two garages set at different angles, the exterior appears from the street to be a single-family home. In fact, a cute row of three windows brings extra visual interest to the parking closest to the street. 

But the clever layout reveals the how this is in fact a thoughtfully designed duplex. Unit A (entered through the courtyard) presents a very open floor plan that invites everyone to relax around the kitchen's large island, where there's seating for three. The master suite sits in back and opens out to a private porch. 

Meanwhile, Unit B also includes an open layout, but in a slightly different configuration. The kitchen includes a large central island plus a separate snack bar that overlooks the dining room. The master here also opens to a porch, but sits a bit closer to the laundry room.

Perhaps you're thinking of joining with a sibling to build, so each unit must be equitable. Plan 48-261 displays cool modern styling with clean lines and a variety of porches. The two units mirror each other exactly and stretch out over three levels each, ideal for a lot that slopes to the front. On the bottom level, each side includes parking for two cars, a workshop, extra storage, and even a media room!

Take the elevator (great for family members with limited mobility) up to the main level, where the great room flows into the open kitchen. Standout amenities include the six-burner range, a fireplace in the living room, and tons of storage (check out the linen closet near the laundry room).

Take a look at the master suite upstairs - impressive! From the large bedroom to the whirlpool tub and large shower, this owner's retreat includes all the modern must-haves.

But wait, you say. What about the noise problem with sharing walls? If that's your concern, choose a layout that joins at the garage, like plan 932-27. Living and sleeping areas in each unit sit far, far apart from the other unit.

Here's another duplex with a garage-to-garage connection and charming Craftsman curb appeal, plan 124-1080. The three-bedroom unit on the left extends over two stories, while the one on the right presents two bedrooms on one level.

Sometimes you do want more closeness, like in a big mountain home. Vacation properties lend themselves well to duplex floor plans. Why? Because often on holiday you want all of your extended family and friends with you. You need room for everyone, but still with some closeness. With a duplex house plan, each family group gets their own space, but it's easy to hang out in one of the living areas. And building a duplex will likely cost less than two separate structures, making it the affordable choice.

Plan 17-2563 presents two mirror-image, spacious layouts that connect with a breezeway. Each unit features a spacious floor plan with an open kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. Craftsman details like stone and paired columns add rugged curb appeal.

For a beach location, plan 64-241 gives you walls of windows to enjoy the view. The mirror-image, two-bedroom units each include a large kitchen island with room for five people to sit. Each unit also includes a lower-level laundry room and outdoor shower - no sharing! 

Whether you're looking for a home that can hold your whole family or you're considering building an investment property (or even want to generate some cash by renting out part of your home), duplexes multiply the possibilities. See more duplex house plans and get inspired for your new home.

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