Together, yet separate: Why dual-entrance homes can lead to more harmonious living

When talking about living in a large household (think multi-generational), issues involving privacy and personal space come to mind. Those of us who have experience living in such multi-generational households can attest to the inconvenience and frustration of having to ‘fight’ for everything – from bathroom time to control of the TV remote unit, from hogging internet bandwidth to fair sharing of food, to staking a claim on physical space in a shared bedroom.

On the other side of the coin, there are clear advantages of living in such close quarters with several other family members. Think of grandchildren being cared for by dotting grandparents. Think of the peace of mind having your aged parents live with you. Think of the money saved from sharing resources, such as rental or utility bills. Not to be missed is the fun of eating together and the comfort of not having to return home every night to an empty house.

However, this article is not about the joys or pains of living in a large household. Rather, it is about how to live harmoniously as one big family where the joys outweigh the pains.

Half the problem is solved if you have a big, spacious house with many rooms. But if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you won’t live in peace. These days, even terrace houses are designed to accommodate the growing trend of living with extended family. Features such as dual entrances are becoming a highlight in newly-launched housing developments especially for the premium sector. 

A dual-entrance home, as the name implies, provides two entrances for its residents to enter and/or exit. In multi-storey homes, these entrances are usually on separate levels, with the entrances leading to two respective areas of the same house. For example, one entrance opens up to the ground floor, while the other entrance opens up to the first floor. Internally, a staircase becomes the central link through which each separate area can be accessed by the other, as well as to the other common areas of the house such as the living, dining and kitchen areas.

Imagine the convenience these entrances bring, not to mention the privacy for the residents to come and go. Say you are living with your aged parents. Having them live on the ground floor while you live on the upper floor means you can keep an eye on them and be available when they need you. Yet they are free to move about discreetly and enjoy the privacy they want because their ground floor unit has a separate entrance. Living under the same roof means meal times and other leisure pursuits can be enjoyed together, on daily basis or as frequently as you wish. This arrangement allows you to be together when you want to, and be separate when choose to.

Likewise, imagine having your adult son living with you. He can have his own ‘den’ and live however he chooses. When he has friends over, they will not be in your way and should he want to return at all hours of the night, like most young people do, he will not inconvenient the rest of the household. Your son will enjoy his independence and you get to live with him, making sure he has a warm meal waiting for him every evening. Again, there is the flexibility of being together, yet living independent lives.

While it is not easy to live with your parents or children, the convenience of dual entrances and clear separation of private spaces will lend itself to harmonious living among the members of your large family. The key is giving everyone easy access to both private and shared spaces, so that you can be together, yet separate.