For some, just the idea of living with relatives is enough to cause heart palpitations. But to Jessica Bruno, sharing a home with extended family is the only way to live. The blogger behind the tellingly named Four Generations One Roof currently resides with her parents, grandparents, husband and children. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Read on to see how Bruno’s living arrangement came to be, why it stuck, and how she deals with blending the decor tastes of her diverse household into one cohesive and beautiful home.
And don’t forget to stop by her curated sale for Joss & Main, launching Tuesday, March 11 at 9:00 p.m.
The title of your blog, Four Generations One Roof, does a pretty good job of explaining your living arrangement, but tell us a little more about it.
Our home consists of my grandparents, my parents, and my husband, myself and our kids, plus two dogs and three horses. There are nine of us total and we are going on six years of living with four generations under one roof. We all have our own “family” spaces and try to create an atmosphere that is respectful of each others’ privacy.
What made you move back in with your parents? Why did you decide to stay?
In 2008, we sold our home to to purchase a new one closer to the city where my husband worked. We decided to stay with my parents while we looked for a new one and never left! We all agreed that we loved living together and it was pretty nice having a built-in babysitter. We decided that pooling our resources and putting an addition on the house and refinishing the basement would be an economical solution and great experience for the kids.
I started the blog to keep friends and family updated with what life was like living with my parents and grandparents as well as what was going on in our home for renovations, projects and day to day life events. It quickly became so much more than that and turned into a full time job for me!
What’s the best part of living so closely with your family?
The amount of memories we are creating living in this situation are untouchable and, honestly, something that we would never have otherwise. My son benefits the most I think. He has his grandparents and great grandparents at his full disposal.
Any hard parts?
Privacy sometimes gets invaded and some days you just want to hide in the bathroom! My grandfather and I are very similar and we tend to butt heads on occasion but most of the time, it’s all good.
Logistically, how does your living arrangement work? Do you each have your own space?
We all have our own “spaces.” We converted our garage and installed a chair lift for my grandparents (for access to the second floor) so they have that area. My husband, kids and I have the main area (the original part of the house), family room, and bedrooms. We put on an addition with a first-floor master suite for my parents, and finished off a 2,000 square foot basement with more bedrooms, another family room and bathroom. We also added an additional kitchen. The key to multigenerational living is to create individual family areas so that you have as much privacy as possible. We each have our “own” family room so we don’t have to “co-mingle” unless we want to!
You take the lead on decorating the house. How do you turn multiple tastes, opinions and living areas into one cohesive home?
Thankfully my parents don’t care what I do to the house! Our shared living spaces are neutral for the most part and my mom is starting to love the whites and bright pops of color I prefer, so we are starting to redo some of her spaces as well.
How would you describe the style you try to achieve with the house?
Modern cottage with a comfy, casual and cozy feel that is inviting.
Even with each generation having its own space, with three kids, your family room must be a pretty busy place in your household. But you somehow manage to make it stylish, too–it was even featured in This Old House magazine. Do you have any tips on creating a fabulous and functional family room?
Don’t be afraid to use white. Many people feel like they have to sacrifice style because they have kids or animals. I am of the mindset that I buy and design what I love and we adapt to everything else. If our white sectional is getting dirty, I remove the slipcovers and wash them. If there are tons of kids over having a play date, I bought white twin-size sheets that fit perfectly over the seats of the couch. If the white wide-pine planks get gross from the dogs slobber, I clean it and throw a quick coat of white paint over it. No biggie!
When you choose furniture for your home, what are the most important things you look for?
Style, function, and comfort. We use everything we have and if we don’t, I get rid of it. Because we have minimal storage, we don’t have room to keep things we don’t use. I either sell it or donate it. I love the latest trends and I am always changing things around so versatility is also important.
Does living with so many people present any decorating challenges? How do you overcome them?
My mom loves dark, traditional furnishings and sometimes I just want to change things around on her but I have to respect that it’s her space and that’s what she loves. My grandmother has her original couches/chairs and her first knickknack I swear. Thankfully, we all have our own little spaces under one roof. You can start at one end of our house and you will be at my grandparents “world” full of their older furnishings and wall to wall spaces of pictures from 80 years ago then be in “my” space that is fun, modern and today’s style while you have my parents more traditional home at the other end. It’s like a going through a time warp of each generation.
What your favorite room in your home and why?