Martha Tingen doesn't have to pick up the phone to talk to her mom and dad - all she has to do is walk past the breakfast nook, through a guest bedroom and knock on their door.
The Tingens - Martha, her husband, Jim, and their two sons - live in a "multi-generational" house with Mrs. Tingen's parents, Bruce and Mildred Smith. The 6,000-square-foot house boasts seven bedrooms, six full and two half-bathrooms, two full kitchens and laundry rooms and four garages.
"It just kind of kept going," said Mrs. Tingen, who designed the house with her husband.
The home, set on 2 1/2 acres of land in the growing Riverchase development of west Augusta, has two separate but connected living spaces. Mrs. Tingen, an associate professor at Medical College of Georgia's school of nursing, asked her parents about the living arrangement after she started thinking about their future health care needs.
The design and completion of the house was a family project - 14-year-old Joseph and 16-year-old Nathan helped tile and paint their own bathrooms and chose the colors in their bedrooms - navy and black, complementing the beiges and taupes of the house.
The main area of the house contains no doors - there are barely walls to break up the airy, open space of a family room, kitchen and breakfast nook. Three arches in the wall between the family room and a sun room allow sunlight to filter into the area, where a white mantel and trim work accent a stone fireplace.
"I really wanted all the arches - that was my idea because I wanted it to be a real family home," Mrs. Tingen said. "That's why there's not a lot of walls."
The two sections of the home are connected by a guest bedroom that opens onto the breakfast nook in either home. The feel of the Smiths' section of the house, while similar, is more traditional. The beiges have an underlying gold rather than a taupe tone. Arched doorways have given way to more traditional shapes, although they are extra wide to accommodate wheelchairs. Other accessible features include handrails in the bathroom and deep sliding drawers rather than low cabinets in the kitchen.
'Neither of my parents are handicapped, but we're trying to prepare," Mrs. Tingen said.
The colors are also softer on the Smiths' side of the home. The Tingens decorated with deep blues, greens and maroons to contrast the sandy taupe walls and carpeting. A formal den and dining room on either side of the entry foyer are painted a deep forest green, saved from being too dark by bright white trim and the light through the front windows.
On the Smith side, the walls are paler and soft greens and roses predominate in the furniture.
The Tingens and the Smiths have been in the house since mid-January, and they're still working on it. The basement - uncharacteristically brightened by the light allowed into the back windows by the slope of the land - has plumbing for a wet bar.
The large lower level includes a rec room, a full bath and another guest bedroom with a wide bed. With the rec room turned into a sitting room and running water installed in the bar, the area could serve as an efficiency living area.
"We've already got my parents living here," Mrs. Tingen said with a laugh. "My in-laws wanted to know if they could move in down here."
Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.