Mother-in-Law Suite: Features You’ll Want to Have in Yours

A growing number of people are looking for options for their aging parents that don’t involve the often problematic nursing home setting.

And one of the possibilities that many are considering is a mother-in-law suite. Also known as in-law suite, accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or granny flat, this is a separate living space that offers residents some form of autonomy while allowing caregivers close proximity if needed.

If this is something you’re considering, the viability of this solution for your situation will depend on a number of factors including:

  • ⬥Cost
  • ⬥Regulations
  • ⬥Available space


If you’re considering adding a mother-in-law suite and you’ve sorted out the regulations, you’ll want to consider what features will be most useful.

Builders maintain that the following elements will prove the most beneficial for your aging parents:

  • ⬥Bedroom on the main floor 
  • ⬥Full size kitchen appliances
  • ⬥Full size bathtub/shower (consider a walk-in tub if practical)
  • ⬥A separate entrance
  • ⬥A washer and dryer
  • ⬥Emergency buttons and/or intercom
  • ⬥Living area

Don’t worry about a lot of storage space. The idea is to help your parents go through and give away or discard items they no longer need or want.

This will also allow you to maximize the available space for living areas. Then, use IKEA furniture and shelving to inexpensively add only what’s needed. 

In-Law Suite Ideas

ADUs can either be attached to your existing home or be a completely separate structure.

Take a look at the following options to get some ideas for your own situation:

1. Basement

Mother-in-Law Suite: Features You'll Want to Have in Yours
Image courtesy: Queen Bee of Honey Dos

2. Garage

A DIY Murphy bed and the addition of a bathroom makes this a good budget option for an in-law suite.

3. Over the garage

Mother-in-Law Suite: Features You'll Want to Have in Yours
Image courtesy: Houzz

Have unused overhead space in your garage? It’s a perfect candidate for a mother-in-law suite.

4. Tiny home

Mother-in-Law Suite Features
Image source: Mighty Small Homes

If you have a larger outdoor space, a prefab tiny home might be the perfect accessory dwelling unit space. 

5. DIY External Suite

Mother-in-Law Suite:
Image courtesy: Houseplans

If you’re an avid DIYer, you can build your own in-law suite with previously designed plans that you can use as-is or have modified to suit your needs.

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