Home Suite Home: Incredible In-Law Suites

It probably feels like yesterday that you were moving out of your parents’ house. Whether you were headed for dorm life or apartment life, you were embarking on a new adventure. One with endless possibilities.

Now, probably before you knew it, you are contemplating having your parents or in-laws move in with you. My how times change. Perhaps they are snow birds, but they would like a place to stay in the summer without the upkeep of your childhood home. Maybe they take care of your children, and this would make it that much easier for them to do. And maybe they are moving a little slower than they used to and just can’t keep up with the maintenance of a single-family home.

Moving elderly parents out of their home can present families with challenges. They may feel like they’re giving up their independence. And of course it feels like that. They have taken care of a family, held jobs, maintained a home and more. It feels like they’re giving up on a life they have known for a long time. Taken from that angle, it’s no wonder an elderly parent refuses nursing home care.

Whatever your family’s unique situation, preserving independence, as well as privacy, are key considerations for everyone’s living arrangements. So, how do you maintain your independence that you’ve gotten used to since moving out a few decades ago? And perhaps more importantly, how do your parents or in-laws maintain theirs? A home remodel could be the answer.

A Suite to Suit: Types of In-Law Suites

You’ve probably already heard of an in-law suite, aka mother-in-law suite or father-in-law suite, but your parents’ new living space doesn’t have to be a suite. It could be an in-law addition, in-law quarters or even an in-law apartment. This “suite” should suit your lifestyle as well as your parents’ lifestyle.

Moving your parents or in-laws in with you can be a big change, but it can also be a very positive one. The prospect of moving in with family may be a lot more appealing to your parents than moving in with strangers in assisted living or in a nursing home.

Remember Dorothy threatening Sophia with Shady Pines on Golden Girls? Sophia always bristled at the thought, and with good reason. Unlike Shady Pines, however, a new in-law suite can also be customized to their needs and style, rather than them having to adapt to someone else’s.


Broadly speaking, there are three different types of in-law suites that can be tailored to meet everyone’s needs: suites within your existing home, an attached addition, and a detached addition. What works for you and your parents will largely depend on budget. Keep in mind, however, that you and your parents can pay for this project together. That makes it a little easier on everyone’s wallets. (See more on the advantages of an in-law suite here.)

Suites Within Your Existing Home

Speaking of easy on the wallet, suites within an existing home are usually the most budget-friendly of the in-law suite options. You may have the space you already need to invite your parents over long term. Converting a garage or remodeling a basement are two of the most common ways to add a suite to your existing home. They are very straightforward home remodeling projects.

Project by Clawson Architects

This in-law apartment was once a garage. Now family members can park here to relax without the stress of maintaining a single-family home. The apartment includes all the features of a home: living room, dining room, kitchen and even a fireplace to warm up to on cold winter days.

Project by MAC Renovations

With a comfortable living area, full kitchen and even a small dining area, this efficient apartment has everything your parents or in-laws need for themselves and even a few guests.

Project by LSL Design Co.

This breezy take on an in-law suite proves even grungy garages can be transformed into stunning suites.

Project by Neighbors Home Remodeling

With its soft neutral wall and ample natural light, it’s hard to believe this in-law suite is actually in a basement.

Attached Additions

No additional space to remodel in your existing home? Or don’t want to give up that precious garage? An attached addition is your best bet. This also gives you a bit more flexibility in terms of size and layout. If your addition can be on the main level, it can also eliminate or at least minimize the need for stairs, which become a greater safety concern when you are living with elderly parents. If land constraints prohibit a main-floor addition, you can also consider an addition above the garage.

Project by Capital Renovations Group

An ample home addition in Dallas, this in-law quarters gives grandma and grandpa a spacious bedroom suite and luxury living area.

Project by COCOON

This attached in-law suite here in Chester County gives the in-laws plenty of room to retreat and relax. Can you even tell which part of the house is the addition? (For more on seamless home additions like this, check out this article.)

Project by Salt Marsh Contracting

Nowhere to go but up? This open, airy suite above a garage is both space-efficient and beautiful.

Detached Additions

If space and budget permit, a detached addition offers complete privacy for both you and your parents. Detached apartments are common above freestanding garages, as the one shown below. But if additional garage space is not a necessity and you have enough land, a small guest house could punctuate your backyard.

Project by Michael Nash Design Build and Homes

Homeowners in Virginia built a detached four-car garage with a second-floor apartment complete with an elevator and screened-in porch. With this set-up, your parents or in-laws wouldn’t want for anything.

Project by William Johnson Architect

This quaint home, also known as a mother-in-law cottage, provides all the privacy any parent needs and enough space for everything: a living area, screened-in porch, bedroom, laundry, and kitchen. This is one sweet, petite home.

In-Law Suite Kitchens

Adding a kitchen transforms an in-law suite into an in-law apartment. It also gives your parents more independent living. As you can see from these examples, a kitchen can be just enough to grab a solo bite or enough to entertain guests.

Project by William Johnson Architect

Open and airy, this kitchen design is a classic with its marble backsplash, black granite countertops and white shaker cabinets. Your in-laws would fall in love with a kitchen like this.

Project by Thomas Custom Builders

This spacious kitchen can accommodate not only the in-laws, but a few of their closest friends as well.

Project by Capital Renovations Group

This eye-catching dining area is sure to please any parent with a penchant for pops of color. It also provides a full suite of appliances, so parents can cook up any cuisine on their own.


Your parents can’t have a true sense of privacy without their own bathroom. Of course they can be simply practical or even luxurious, depending on budget and need. One major consideration is whether you want the bathroom to be ADA compliant.

As their health requires, your parents may need grab bars for support or even space for a wheelchair. Even if you and your parents prefer the look of a bathroom without grab bars, you can plan for future changes by having your contractor install supports for grab bars within the walls during construction. As you can see with these in-suite bathrooms, their accessibility varies as much as their style.

Project by Moss Building and Design

This stunning bathroom offers plenty of room to move around without sacrificing style.

Project by The Beard Group, Ltd.

In a compact space, this bathroom still provides a sizable shower. Notice the curbless shower floor. This frees the bathroom of potential tripping hazards.

In-Law Suite Laundry Rooms

While a full laundry room is probably not a necessity in an in-law suite, you might want to consider room for laundry in your overall plan. Reserving space in your floor plan for a closet-friendly stackable washer-dryer is easy enough. Plus, it’s just one more way you can ensure that your in-law suite is fully independent of the rest of the house.

Project by Thomas Custom Builders

This simple closet is a perfect example of how easy it is to reserve space in your in-law suite home design for laundry. This stackable unit is neatly hidden behind closet doors inside the kitchen.

Project by Adams + Beasley Associates

This washer and dryer is tucked away in a hall closet, an easy way to squeeze in separate laundry without having to create a full room.

Project by Cottage Redesign

If you have more storage space, you can create a small laundry room like this one, which houses a washer and dryer as well as some extra room for laundry and cleaning supplies.

Making Life Suite

They cared for you as you grew up. Now you want to return the favor and care for them as they grow older. With an in-law suite, an in-law apartment, or in-law addition, you can make it happen while also maintaining your space and theirs. Contact COCOON today for your home improvement project!

This is an image round up post featuring work from various sources. If you do not want your work featured on our blog, please contact us at [email protected]. Thank you!

Previous ArticleWhat are the American Architecture Styles? Next Article25 Historic Home Remodels in Greater Philadelphia