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What are the pros and cons of having all your bedrooms up stairs?

gallery2000
6 years ago
last modified: 6 years ago

What are the pros and cons of having all your bedrooms upstairs? All the kitchen, dining, laundry, greatroom and garage are downstairs.

Comments (53)

  • bpath
    6 years ago

    Our 4 bedrooms are upstairs. My youngest is off to college next year, and all along I've appreciated being on the same floor. Even teens get sick in the night. I like knowing how late one of them stayed up working on an essay; the light spilling under the door at 2am is good to know.

    I like the separation of private, personal space from public, gathering space. When I go upstairs, (or, in a ranch house we were in, go past the jog in the hallway) I leave the day behind. And visitors aren't likely to get a glimpse of the bedrooms.

    We do happen to have a guest room with bath/shower on the first floor. We like that, it gives our guests and us privacy. We have also used it for family members needing to convalesce for a few days, and there is a possibility of a parent moving in, in the next few years.

  • Stan B
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    These days in a 2 story home I'd do essentially two masters: one downstairs and one upstairs with the kids bedrooms if you want the bedrooms mostly on the same level. Downstairs with a simpler ensuite bath can be used for guests, parents, au pair, office, a teen who needs more space, someone with a broken leg or sprained ankle .... flexibility is the idea.

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  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    All bedrooms upstairs: Pros: smaller footprint and less expensive construction cost(unless you take Stan Z's advice and start duplicating spaces on both floors); Cons: Stairs.

    All bedrooms upstairs: an economical and workable solution for young families with energy and good knees and hips. Unworkable for older empty nesters.

  • Kristin S
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    As others have said, I prefer master and kids' bedroom upstairs with a guest bedroom that could be repurposes to a master if ever needed on the main. That also allows me some space from my guests, which I really appreciate.

  • artemis_ma
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    At least one bedroom with a nearby full bath on the main floor. 2 autumns ago I was in littlebug 's situation with that broken ankle. No, the bath doesn't have to be en suite. Just available!

  • bdshoward
    6 years ago

    I'm a realtor, and in our market, a master upstairs is a killer. House will sit on the market forever. Master and at least one other bedroom needs to be downstairs. But every market is different. If it's your forever home, maybe you don't care, but someone is going to eventually have to sell it. I would have some sort of bedroom and full bath downstairs.

  • bpath
    6 years ago

    Here's a different perspective regarding empty-nesters:

    If your master is upstairs and you find yourself unable to manage the stairs anymore, it's time to move.

    If your master is downstairs, you may find yourself living in the house too long, never going upstairs, unable to maintain or get the space ready for when the kids and grands come to visit.

  • gthigpen
    6 years ago

    bdshoward - That's our market too. Master downstairs is expected and the houses where it's up, take a price reduction or sit forever.

    I grew up in Minnesota and my family is still there. Most common is master upstairs with all the other bedrooms. My brother and SIL have a house now where master is down and all other beds are up and they are renovating to move the master up.

  • lazy_gardens
    6 years ago

    This ... You need some room that can be used as a bedroom with a convenient bath.

    Because legs, knees and ankles have a tendency to sprain and break



  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    Ouch!

  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    6 years ago

    Yes, master location is VERY location-specific! My DS had a very large house with a huge MBR on the first; where he lives, people are afraid to have their children upstairs alone - too forever to sell. Where I live MBR on 1st floor is high desirable. It's not a deal breaker, but it will win if it's between two houses.

  • Love stone homes
    6 years ago

    In Canada, master down is virtually non existent. It was not until we moved to the USA that we discovered homes with master down. I thought it very strange of being downstairs and having babies upstairs. The thought of running upstairs in the middle of the night to deal with sick kids seemed exhausting. I doubt such a configuration would ever sell up here.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    When my kids were young, I only wanted the master upstairs with the kids.

    Now that I'm in a retired area, the master must be downstairs for resale. We have an elevator going in, but even still the master needs to be downstairs.

  • worthy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    What is becoming de rigeur in the higher end in the Greater Toronto area are elevators.

    The whole notion of sleeping in a first floor bedroom would actually feel very strange. (And this is from a guy who slept in his pickup box and relaxed, cooked and entertained in the garage for one summer month as his house was being renoed.)

  • Najeebah
    6 years ago
    agreed, the tendency differs in each area. Where I am, houses are often either one story (which I am a fan of), or two with all bedrooms on the top floor. Some have one bedroom above, generally for space constraints, but never the master in those cases. just about never see the master bedroom apart from the rest here.


    all on one floor
    pros: laundry on that floor, bathrooms can be shared easily, parents and kids close by
    cons: stairs are inconvenient to children, the elderly, the injured or tired.

    one down, the rest up
    pros: room for people who can't take stairs, separation from guests,
    cons: you may end up with one more bathroom than otherwise, parent's and kids separate (I believe it makes sense on one floor, and a sense if separation can be created without a flight of stairs, eg a short passage)


    it's not always possible, but where it is, I much prefer all bedrooms on the ground floor, along with the kitchen, living areas etc. I don't like needing to go all the way down and up stairs for a glass of juice, for instance, though I'm fly abled.

    homes with no bedroom, nor potential for one (eg study that can be converted) on the ground floor are badly designed in that regard. it's not only the elderly who can't take stairs
  • homechef59
    6 years ago

    I've certainly lived happily in both. Some of this is regional. When I lived in Virginia and New York most houses were classic Colonial styles. They typically have the master bedroom on the upper floor. The people who live in these homes don't really know any other arrangement. There is a climate component, as well. Heat is expensive and it rises. It's more efficient to heat a second story than a lot of ground floor space.

    When I moved back south, I build a new home. It was a Southern Colonial. I didn't even think about the master being on the second floor. I thought about it plenty when I went to sell the house. Because the house was priced at the higher levels of the market, we seemed to encounter older, more affluent buyers. There were a number of buyers who liked the house, but the upstairs master was a deal killer. My realtor echoed this assessment. In the South, heat rises and needs to be dissipated. Second stories are hot. Anything closer to the ground is cooler and land is less expensive. You see a lot of single story homes.

    The attractiveness of bedroom location seems to directly correlate with the age or stage of life of the owner. If you are young or raising small children, a master upstairs is very practical and attractive. If you are bit more mature or your kids are teenagers or gone, the ground floor master becomes a necessity.

    Thus, neither answer is right, neither is wrong. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and based on the life stage of the user.

  • worthy
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    If you are bit more mature...the ground floor master becomes a necessity.

    Raised when Howdy Doody was just a splinter in the woodcutter's eye. Still taking' the second floor. When we had three-storey homes, the master was always up top. BTW, heat doesn't rise that far up north!

  • Suru
    6 years ago

    In my area it's common to have the master either up or down. It's not a deal breaker either way. I just moved from a house with all bedrooms upstairs and it sold in 2 weeks. The biggest pain was that the laundry was downstairs. I hated lugging laundry up and down those stairs.

  • gregbradley
    6 years ago

    Any house that isn't a single story is simply defective.

  • millworkman
    6 years ago

    "Any house that isn't a single story is simply defective."


    Interesting theory...........................

  • mrspete
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    These days in a 2 story home I'd do essentially two masters: one
    downstairs and one upstairs with the kids bedrooms if you want the
    bedrooms mostly on the same level.

    That's exactly what we're doing: A master on the first floor for us ... a second master "up". Of course, neither will be overly large or grand, and the upstairs master will have a nice bathroom ... but it'll share with the second upstairs bedroom. In fact, the upstairs master will share a jack-and-jill closet with the second bedroom (since the second bedroom is just a guest room, we figure it's a flexible arrangement).

    Our reasoning: We're nearing retirement, and we prefer the downstairs master for ourselves; however, one of our children will probably stay with us for a while after college, and she'll get the upstairs master ... for now. In the future, if we need a live-in person to help us (either one of our children or a paid caregiver), we thought it'd be easier if that person had a nice bedroom with an ample closet and comfortable bath ... and a room with a little more privacy. When the kids were both young and at home, I would've wanted them to have "equal" bedrooms, but this arrangement makes more sense for us now.

    All bedrooms upstairs: Pros: smaller footprint and less expensive
    construction cost(unless you take Stan Z's advice and start duplicating
    spaces on both floors); Cons: Stairs.

    I'm surprised you're the only person who's mentioned the footprint-and-construction thing.

    Building all-bedrooms-up tends to work out "nicely": Living-dining-kitchen downstairs and 3 bedrooms upstairs kind of "works out" so that you can have a simple-shaped house ... whereas, if you bring the master downstairs (with its larger closet and bathroom), you've shifted a good bit of space downstairs, and that makes the upstairs harder to configure. Oh, not impossible: A typical Cape Cod, for example, has two upper bedrooms with sloped ceilings -- an economical option. Or you could make the master kind of a "wing", offset on the other side of the house by a similar-sized garage ... but the point is, If you do all bedrooms "up", you're excused from figuring out how to manage a larger amount of square footage on the first floor /smaller amount on the second floor.

    Any house that isn't a single story is simply defective.

    Single story houses do have some strong advantages.

  • roarah
    6 years ago

    One great benefit for all ages to keep their bedroom on top floor is new studies show seniors benefit greatly from using stairs. It is especially important for brain health for older people to keep a bedroom on the second floor unless crippled...

    my parents, in their 70s, are doing a top and lower level master suites, but honestly when you no longer can manage stairs due to age it might be time to move into assisted living and when my DH and I have had fractures and knee surgeries the stairs during recovery time were harder but not impossible...

  • PLF (Middle TN, Zone 7a)
    6 years ago

    Our first house was a one story house with the master at the end of the hallway with two other rooms in the hallway. Loved that it was private from company, and the kids were small. Then we bought another one story house, and it had the master separate from the other rooms on the opposite sides of the house. I thought I would like the privacy from the other bedrooms, but after living in it, I hated that the master was right off the kitchen area. It's the one thing I felt didn't work in this house, and it was my favorite house. Then we had to move again, and ended up buying a 3-story townhouse. Loved it! The bottom floor was private. You walked in....huge foyer and there was a retreat/bedroom at the end of the hallway plus a bathroom for guest. Then the second floor, another bathroom, the kitchen, eating area, living room. Third floor was an island, so to speak. Master suite on one end, and two bedrooms on the other with the laundry room, and another bathroom in the hallway. I loved retreating up there every evening. Another move, and now we have a 2-story house. All the rooms are upstairs. We actually looked at several houses, and whenever I saw the master off the side of the kitchen or living area, I said no. It is the one thing I've found I don't like. I do wish sometimes the laundry room was upstairs, but we do alot of yard work, and it's nice having the laundry downstairs by the back door so that we don't drag the outside all the way upstairs. When dh and I talk about retiring, we both talk about going back to the one story, but the master would have to be on the opposite side of the house from all the other rooms down a hallway are something.

    roarah said:

    "One great benefit for all ages to keep their bedroom on top floor is new studies show seniors benefit greatly from using stairs. It is especially important for brain health for older people to keep a bedroom on the second floor unless crippled..."

    That's very interesting. I hadn't thought about it like that. I could absolutely retire in this house we live in now. I do feel like the stairs give me a good stretch during the day, even if it's to take the laundry up.

  • just_janni
    6 years ago

    "but honestly when you no longer can manage stairs due to age it might be time to move into assisted living"

    Your views will change as you age / watch your parents age and understand the independence and what helps people thrive. Do we institutionalize young people in wheelchairs? Accident victims?

    No - we adapt. We've installed a stair lift in my parents condo (garage down, single living on 2nd floor. She does not go out all that often, but this is freedom. She can do some stairs, but not the entire flight. I'd think no more about assisted living for her than for my completely able bodied Dad.

    Think more critically before tossing out "assisted living!!!" - we're all going to get old someday.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    "but honestly when you no longer can manage stairs due to age it might be time to move into assisted living"

    And in addition to the excellent comments by Najeebah and Jannicone, there is also the fact that assisted living is a heck of a lot more expensive than living out your days in your own home. Yes even with daily care, assisted is more. They average $4,000 (in a LCOLA area) on up into the $7000+ range a month!

  • bpath
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    A 24-hour live-in caregiver in my area is $8400/mo to prepare meals, do light housekeeping, and help with daily living activities. Edited to add, that doesn't include groceries, property insurance, utilities and maintenance, yard, weekly housekeeper to the proper cleaning. If they went to a fitness center, that would be an additional cost. My parents' master is on the first floor, the caregiver lives upstairs. If she is needed in the middle of the night, the monitor had better be turned on or she won't hear them call or get up. So if someone is planning that far out, plan for everything.

    as a side note, we are now having to consider altering the master bath to be more (note, MORE) handicap accessible. The problem is, which bathroom do the folks use while that one is torn up? It's a his-n-hers so not too bad, but it will definitely be a huge disruption. And we are only considering removing a tub, adding more grab bars in the shower, and changing out the shower door. Yes, there are other bathrooms in the house, but in the middle of the night how do you get there (in time)?

    After my DMIL's heart attack 20 years ago, they moved from the 3-story house to a condo, and they and the whole family were better for it. They have made it a lovely home and a gathering place. I hope to do the same, but before the heart attack or stroke, and make THAT or a senior living community my home, before I am forced to it.

    edited to add, even in a senior living community, or in assisted living, it is not uncommon in my area to have a caregiver for at least a few hours a day to help with bathing, dressing, and bedtime, because the staff is busy.

  • Najeebah
    6 years ago
    It's also much easier for family to visit at home than an assisted living centre, often with regulated hours and noise levels, etc. You're king in your land, and nowhere else.
    About the cost, as CPArtist mentions, valid point, and cost also goes up with quality. There are numerous centres with barely humane standards. I think care centres being viable options are exceptions, not the rule.
  • roarah
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    my parents are older and already express the desire to not stay in their own home when not physically able nor do they wish to burden us with care so they have selected the senior living center that will be their last home if the time comes. So no not sure I will change my mind about stairs....

    not everyone wishes to stay at home but it is ok if you do, just know that science is proving that adding a first floor master before it is absolutely needed might lessen one's years of independence by years.

  • bpath
    6 years ago

    As long as you have someone regularly check the upstairs and the basement if you have one for any drips, leaks, broken windows, etc, and manage the mechanicals and lightbulb changing for you, even take out the trash for you, you can stay in your home forever. I hear the fire department will change the lightbulbs in ceilings for you.

    My parents first started running into trouble when they couldn't roll the trash cans out of the garage any more. We considered just opening the garage door for the fellow, but they live in a field and knew critters would wander in if the door was open for an hour or two. We made a tradition of going over Sunday nights for ice cream and to put the bins out (they are raccoon-proof) then stop by Monday to roll them in.

    Then Dad fell getting the newspaper off the stoop.

    Then he couldn't drive down to the mailbox for the mail. They could have moved the box up to the house, but they wouldn't be able to step outside to get to the box.

    Having the bedrooms up or down is just the beginning.

    Like my dad says, getting old ain't for sissies!

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    As has been said above, there are lots of things which happen in mid- to over mid-age, which may make stairs and multi-level living challenging or impossible. Even with no aches and pains, one-level living at an advanced age can be a convenience and add to the quality of living.

    Everyone is different, of course, but for those of retirement age having all of the primary living spaces accessible without stairs is often very appealing.

  • htwo82
    6 years ago

    We did a one level, the main master on the east end, 2 bedrooms with J&J bath on the west end, living space in between, then 2 master suites in the basement (walkout). I may be bias, but we think it's perfect.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago

    My new home is a two level with the master on the main floor. Upstairs is a bedroom, bath and my studio. I'm hoping to be able to run up and down those stairs for many years to come, but if I can't, we also are putting in an elevator. This way I'll still be able to go up and down the stairs.

  • Caroline Hamilton
    6 years ago

    When we custom built 17 years ago I was still in my 20's. (I know we were very very fortunate). We still did have the foresight to build a bedroom on the lower level along with a full bath. Our thinking back then was for aging parents. But as we get older it could be used for us as well. You never know what life throws at you. That being said where we live in NJ most bedrooms are upstairs.

  • just_janni
    6 years ago

    We're building a ranch. LOL so I have a first floor master AND all the bedrooms are on the same (only) floor.

    One thing that I will say - in our current house, it's just 2 of us, and we have a loft, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms and a bonus room / office upstairs and they simply go unused. I swear that a family of 4 (quiet people) could live up there and other than running into someone while I sent up to grab stuff off the printer - I'd never know....

    If our bedroom were upstairs, I think we'd use the other rooms more.

  • FeatherBee
    6 years ago

    If you're worried about long term, then location and supply & demand will play a bigger role over the placement of the bedrooms.

    Where I'm at (Midwest), either way is fine. Homes in the right areas sell quickly regardless of the location of the master. There's lot of younger people buying these days so stairs don't scare them (yet).

    My master is on the main level with two bedrooms upstairs. We don't have kids and rarely, if ever, go upstairs. I do like the upstairs bedrooms because we have high ceilings as a result in the living room. It makes the house feel bigger.

    I'd put the laundry room upstairs if all the bedrooms are up there.

  • mrspete
    6 years ago

    A 24-hour live-in caregiver in my area is $8400/mo to prepare meals, do
    light housekeeping, and help with daily living activities. Edited to
    add, that doesn't include groceries, property insurance, utilities and
    maintenance, yard, weekly housekeeper to the proper cleaning.

    If you need 24-hour care, you probably do need some sort of assisted living; however, a whole lot of people don't need that much care. My grandmother lived happily in her own home until she was 99 ... she had a visit from a Home Health Care Worker 2Xs a week, she had help with cleaning, she had a guy who mowed her yard, and she had Meals on Wheels bringing her lunch 5Xs a week. Yeah, lots of help that younger people don't need, but it allowed her to stay in her own home and didn't cost anywhere near 8K/month.

  • just_janni
    6 years ago

    My inlaws went to 24 hour care when MIL's Parkinson's advanced and FIL was unable to care for her. He got benefit of the home care folks, she got to sleep some, and they BOTH get some decent nutrition. Staying together for as long as they could was a benefit that would likely not have been possible in a facility that could give MIL the level of care she needed. They were able to do this DESPITE living in a restored circa 1694 home in the Philadelphia area.... It was not easy / convenient... but they made it work.

  • bpath
    6 years ago

    MrsPete, my parents did okay on their own until two years ago, although for a few years before that we were encouraging them to either move to independent living, or get someone in at least daily to help with meals and daily tasks. It was that one hard sit-down that caused a compression fracture that set us in a new direction. Mom was 91 at the time. Be even for a couple years before that, we were rolling the trash cans in and out for them and doing their weekly grocery shopping at least half the time.

    Jannicone, I'm curious what 24-hour care costs in Philadelphia?

  • just_janni
    6 years ago

    It was over 10 years ago - so I am pretty sure I know nothing relevant anymore. IIRC they ultimately ended up contracting directly with the folks that they liked and removing the agency from the equation - but it was still around $10/hour. (7200/mo)

  • bpath
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    That's not much of a change in 10 years.

  • David Cary
    6 years ago

    First floor master = larger footprint.

    What are the consequences of a larger footprint - harder to design for natural light, more expensive to adequately insulate, more expensive to build, more disturbance in rain water, more materials to build - greater environmental impact, more land needed - which makes it harder to design walkable areas, more land also means less density which means services are further away. The cascading effect of a larger footprint is significant.

    The fact is that in the majority of populated areas, land is expensive. You generally have to move far from city center to get enough land to build a ranch. And then you have to drive more. Or you pay a lot of money for the land.

    Interesting how the conversation went off on assisted living - as if that were the only option to move to. Memories and nostalgia keeping frail empty nesters in larger family homes. Seems crazy to me. Condos, senior neighborhoods etc. I'm 47 and I would never want to burden my child with rolling out my trash (and doing a lot of other things) when I could move to an area with better services as I need them.

  • mrspete
    6 years ago

    It's also much easier for family to visit at home than an assisted
    living centre, often with regulated hours and noise levels, etc. You're
    king in your land, and nowhere else.

    Yes, in the last years that my grandmother lived on her own, we started having ALL our family gatherings at her house. She loved it, and it was easier for her to stay home, where she was most comfortable ... provided one of us came over a few days before and scurried around doing all the little things she demanded but had trouble with herself ... and we all brought food in. She was responsible essentially for nothing. She loved those gatherings.

    Be even for a couple years before that, we were rolling the trash cans
    in and out for them and doing their weekly grocery shopping at least
    half the time.

    The trash cans gave my grandmother trouble, but my mom called the city and explained that my grandmother just couldn't get the cans to the curb ... and they arranged that all she had to do was keep her trash cans towards the front of the garage and open her garage doors on trash day ... and the trash guys did the rolling for her.

  • cpartist
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Condos, senior neighborhoods etc. I'm 47 and I would never want to burden my child with rolling out my trash (and doing a lot of other things) when I could move to an area with better services as I need them.

    When my parents were in their 50's they moved to their ranch house and used to say the same thing to us. However when it became clear they were no longer able to live in their house without assistance, they started balking at the idea of moving to something with better services.

    As they aged they didn't quite realize how much more help they needed, even after we got my Mom full time help during the day. (Mom had parkinsons and started to lose her ability to think clearly, while my Dad kept his facilities till the day he died) So would it have been better to drag my parents out kicking and screaming to someplace else, or better to help them to still live in their home. And since Dad was "clear of mind" I doubt a court would have allowed it.

    Once my Mom passed away, my Dad moved in with my sister. But that was his choice because he realized he couldn't maintain the house himself and he was afraid at his age of living alone.

    Trust me when I say the decision is never an easy one on either side of the fence.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    6 years ago

    Saw this on Facebook today:

  • Najeebah
    6 years ago
    I don't think I'll forget that one Virgil
  • arialvetica
    6 years ago

    I'm surprised no one mentioned fire safety. All of our bedroom windows are ground-level and after a local house fire this spring, where all 5 children were killed when trapped in an upstairs room, I taught my kids how to escape out their windows. I may regret this when they are teens, but we have motion-sensing alarm/cameras. Hopefully when they are smart enough to hack it, they are smart enough to stay out of trouble?

    In our home, we have the "master" on the entry-level, next to the living room (accommodates cal king bed, has a larger bathroom) and a "guest suite" in the lower-level next to the kids rooms (accommodates a queen bed, has a standard-size bathroom). When the kids are sick, or during the newborn phase of constant night nursing, we can relocate to the "guest room," but we do consider the "master" to be "our room."

  • Najeebah
    6 years ago
    regarding escape through windows; safety against criminals, rather than fire (though no one can predict fire) is a concern around here. It's the norm to have barred windows, so no escaping there. tragic incident though, you relate Arial
  • cpartist
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    Thankfully the new house I'm building has easy egress from both rooms upstairs. The french doors to the balcony from my studio/guest bedroom and the egress window onto the roof in the guest bedroom.

  • zorroslw1
    6 years ago

    Bpathoue, $8400 a month? Where do I apply?