A house full of love – The Lettered Cottage expands
Layla Palmer’s popular blog, The Lettered Cottage, is a treasure trove of home design ideas, adoption information and more. But for the past few years, she and her husband, Kevin, and their children have been part of a multigenerational home, sharing space with Kevin’s parents and forging a path that brings grandparents, parents and children under one roof.
Multigenerational homes are increasing in the United States, especially since the start of the pandemic, according to the National Association of Realtors. The factors are as different as the families they represent, but include health concerns, cost savings, childcare and more. Like the Palmers, some families find that the blessing of connection across generations is a bonus and one that they wouldn’t trade.
In the Palmers’ Alabama household, the move to add a generation came after the couple adopted their son when he was almost 5 years old and before their plan to adopt their 19-year-old daughter. Prior to a health issue, Kevin’s parents lived independently.
“That started this multigenerational living thing,” Kevin said. “We started the conversation of looking to the future and figuring this out.”
That ultimately resulted in Kevin’s parents selling their home and adding on to the Palmers’ existing house. The whole family is currently in the process of moving to a “farmette” that will better suit their needs – and add to their space.
Acknowledging that being all together under one roof might not work for everyone, Layla said there are things to discuss before making the leap.
“Really have some open conversations ahead of time,” she said.
For their family, that meant making sure Kevin’s parents had their own space. His father is a retired cartoonist who loves to spend time drawing, while his mother is an avid cook who benefits from having her own kitchen.
“Those are conversations we had ahead of time,” Kevin said. “Can we coexist? What do they need to make it feel like they have their own space and we have our space?”
Taking those needs into consideration honored their identity, Layla said.
Challenges will come. Expect and plan for them, but keep them in perspective.
“Being open is probably the biggest key – open conversation and being open to change,” Layla said.
“We talked real openly in the very beginning about not being afraid to come to us and say if something is not working,” Kevin said.
Before the families combined, it was important to Kevin and Layla to ask Kevin’s parents what they needed to make the arrangement work. And since the move, they have stuck to their commitment to open communication from all sides.
“Open communication is critically key – not just telling someone when you’ve got something to say, but preemptively, ahead of time, (asking) what can we do? What would make you feel better about this? I think it has been really good for our lives and our kids’ lives,” Kevin said.
What they describe as a “unique and wonderful experience” and “an unexpected blessing” has meant that their children have a special bond with their grandparents, while all generations get to know each other in a new way.
“At the end of the day, we all just love each other,” Kevin said. “There’s a learning curve to living together. There’s a learning curve to being open in communication, but at the end of the day, it’s your family.”
Follow along as the Palmers renovate their “farmette.” The Lettered Cottage is online at theletteredcottage.net and on Instagram at @letteredcottage.
The Palmers will release their first children’s book, “The Happy Crab,” on Oct. 12. It is available for preorder now. The book is based on a true story experienced by Kevin, Layla, and their son, Steevenson. Visit theletteredcottage.net/the-happy-crab-our-first-childrens-book.