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One Staircase or Two?

Posted by chrissyPT (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 22:37

We are building a home and are trying to decide if we should have one staircase or two. The original plan had a staircase in the foyer as well as one near the great room/kitchen. The foyer staircase could not have been a grand staircase because the foyer was not large enough to lend to anything like that.

Here are the pros to removing that staircase:
1. Brings down the cost of the house (approximately $10,000)
2. Brings the square footage down by about 50 to 100 square feet which drops the cost more ($7,500 to $15,000)
3. Increases the foyer area to allow for a more 'grand' foyer
4. Allows the second story Jack and Jill bath to be a little larger
5. Allows more space on the second floor for all four upstairs bedrooms to have walk in closets
6. Gives more hallway space on the second floor to have a closet with washer/dryer for guests

Here are the cons:
1. There is only one way to access the second floor and it is near the back of the house so if we were all upstairs and the doorbell rang then it wouldn't be as easy to get to the front door
2. The master bedroom is down and all of the children's rooms are up and we would be removing the staircase that would allow quickest access to them
3. We lose the "staircase in the foyer" that so many people like...however, as I said, it wouldn't be grand by any means

Can someone please advise me on this? I have attached the revised floorplan. I can't figure out how to attach more than one document so can't show what it used to look like with two staircases or what the second floor looks like before and after.

Thank you!

This post was edited by chrissyPT on Thu, Feb 14, 13 at 22:40


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: One Staircase or Two?

Historically, many multi-story houses had a "public" front stair that residents and guests used, and a "private" back stair (often adjacent to the kitchen) which was used by those who served the owners.

Contemporary houses seldom have the need for two sets of stairs for a variety of reasons.

Unless you are anticipating live in servants and the need for both public and private stairs, I suggest you figure out which stair provides the most useful function for daily living and lose the other one.

Good luck on your project.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

We are building a home and are trying to decide if we should have one staircase or two. The original plan had a staircase in the foyer as well as one near the great room/kitchen. The foyer staircase could not have been a grand staircase because the foyer was not large enough to lend to anything like that.

Here are the pros to removing that staircase:
1. Brings down the cost of the house (approximately $10,000)
2. Brings the square footage down by about 50 to 100 square feet which drops the cost more ($7,500 to $15,000)
3. Increases the foyer area to allow for a more 'grand' foyer
4. Allows the second story Jack and Jill bath to be a little larger
5. Allows more space on the second floor for all four upstairs bedrooms to have walk in closets
6. Gives more hallway space on the second floor to have a closet with washer/dryer for guests

Here are the cons:
1. There is only one way to access the second floor and it is near the back of the house so if we were all upstairs and the doorbell rang then it wouldn't be as easy to get to the front door
2. The master bedroom is down and all of the children's rooms are up and we would be removing the staircase that would allow quickest access to them
3. We lose the "staircase in the foyer" that so many people like...however, as I said, it wouldn't be grand by any means

Can someone please advise me on this? I have attached the revised floorplan. I can't figure out how to attach more than one document so can't show what it used to look like with two staircases or what the second floor looks like before and after.

Thank you!


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

Thank you, virgilcarter! We will not be having live-in servants...other than me ;)


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

We have a somewhat similiar 1st floor layout with just 1 set of stairs accessed from the kitchen/family room and I love it! Don't know how old your kids are - mine are 9 and 12 and middle-of-the-night trips upstairs are pretty much non-existant.

I also like that casual visitors to my house can't see into our private living space from the front door. As you discovered, stairs are expensive and, as an OCD housekeeper, a PITA to keep clean if you go hardwood. :)

Our 1st floor
Original 1st Floor


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

Parsonse, that is helpful, thank you! Our kids would be 7, 5 and 1 so trips upstairs may be a little more frequent than in your case...however the one year old's room is closest to the stairs so that makes it a little easier. Someone suggested keeping the front stair and getting rid of the back stair but I like that the back stair is near the kitchen and great room...places where we will be spending most of our time.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

I personally would go with a single staircase on the back side of the house. I dont personally like staircases off the foyer


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

OK, so in the middle of the night (when most unattended problems happen for kids), a parent will have to arise, leave the master bedroom, trek across the house past the kitchen, climb the stairs to the second level and attend the child?

Without an electronic device in the child's room, how will parents even know there's a problem from the first floor master bedroom?

Hard to understand the concept of a first floor master bedroom and all remaining bedrooms on the second floor when the children are very young and need attention day and night.

Good luck on your project.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

First floor master suites are not only expected but are desirable in our region...particularly above a certain price range. It would actually affect the resale value of our home if we didn't have this!

We, of course, would have video monitoring in all of our children's rooms :)


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

One staircase positioned closer to the MBR is all you really need.

You could get rid of the stairs in the GR and make a separate laundry and separate mud room.

I can't read the measurements, but it looks like you have plenty of square footage to narrow the DR & study, take the corner chunk from the WIC which is not particularly useful for the closet anyway, take the first 2' or so of the MBR, and reconfigure that whole area to fit the stairs in closer to the MBR.

Anne


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

One staircase positioned closer to the MBR is all you really need.

You could get rid of the stairs in the GR and make a separate laundry and separate mud room.

I can't read the measurements, but it looks like you have plenty of square footage to narrow the DR & study, take the corner chunk from the WIC which is not particularly useful for the closet anyway, take the first 2' or so of the MBR, and reconfigure that whole area to fit the stairs in closer to the MBR.

Anne


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

Looking at your pros and cons, I'd make one of two choices:

1. Keep the functional back staircase and eliminate what you're describing as essentially a just-for-show front staircase. Financially, ditching the second staircase seems like the right choice; and the back stairs will make your lives easier, whereas the front set wouldn't.
OR
2. Look for another plan that eliminates this problem. This floorplan isn't particularly unique, and you could find something very similar that places the staircase in a spot that's both functional and conventional.

I'll add one more pro: Your staircase will be in your family room, which means that at Christmas you can decorate it with garland and white lights. Perhaps hang your stockings or pretty ornaments on the staircase. The placement of my Christmas tree (and other decorations) is a consideration for me!

And I'll throw in one comment: I wouldn't plan the house around the fear that the children will need me and be unable to find their way to me in the middle of the night. Once my kids were past the very short infant stage, middle-of-the-night needs just weren't an issue. If they needed me, they came to me. We had nightlights, and they didn't have any mobility issues.

And, finally, a note about the history of dual staircases. They originally weren't meant for the owners of the house at all. Rather, they were included in large house designs so that the servants could come and go while remaining "invisible" to the homeowners and their guests. Back staircases typically were steep and narrow (cheaper) and were accessed from the kitchen/laundry area.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

I think having only the kids rooms upstairs is actually likely to lead to more time on the stairs for the parent, not less. My kids are 12, 10 and 6, well past needing me in the middle of the night for the most part, but I still check on them before I go to bed (to get them to turn off their reading lights, etc...) and in the morning I make sure they're up and moving when they need to be. It's easy to do with my bedroom on the same level as theirs, but it would considerably less convenient if I was on the main level and had to go all the way upstairs just for that.

Mrs. Pete- just this winter a nasty stomach bug went through the house that did prevent my kids from finding me, because they weren't well enough to walk. I was glad my bedroom was close enough that I heard the crying. Stuff happens.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

I agree with the one stairway. Healthy children should not need nightly monitoring indefinitely. And the mobile ones will show you soon enough how easy it is for them to come to your bedroom, wherever it is. An extra 20 or 30 feet of travel isn't far, for foot or noise travel. For me, opening my eyes and putting my feet on the floor represents most of the inconvenience. As far as the doorbell, if it takes 10 seconds longer to respond you might end up discouraging some solicitors. People you know, and who like you, will gladly wait the 10 extra seconds under shelter of your porch.

In houses with two stairways, the rear one tended to be fairly hidden back by a hidden kitchen, often with uncomfortably tight winders. A house without a second floor master bedroom or spacious upper Hall doesn't deserve two generous stairways. A foyer stairway could make for a more efficient plan, add visual interest, and make a foyer more of a social space, but the single one you have in your great/family room matches the modesty of what's upstairs, fits contemporary patterns of living, and offers additional functions such as informal seating in this room during large gatherings so I'd lean toward keeping that one especially considering the size of the foyer. What does a second stair offer other than an expensive way to sometimes save 30 seconds getting upstairs? You'll have the additional space on both floors, and the money saved could certainly go far in improving energy performance, finishes, etc.--or in your pocket.

If you're going through the trouble of custom new construction, reconsider how much weight you give to the decisions of neighbors, national homebuilders, or a hypothetical future buyer. Maybe you'll move again in the average 5-7 years. Or your children will be selling the house for your estate in 50-70 years. There's the cutting edge that dulls in fewer than five years. And then 70 years which is a long time. Get something that you like that functions well. It's good to ask if a decision is sensible. It doesn't always need to be conformist (especially in cases where the local convention is itself ludicrous). Having a grand foyer stairway with all of your private sleeping quarters on the second floor is sensible, as is having a first floor master and no stairway in the foyer, in spite of what some 2013 neighbors/buyers/builders may prefer.

Good luck. By the way, I like the dining room off the foyer.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

chrissyPT wrote, "...First floor master suites are not only expected but are desirable in our region...particularly above a certain price range. It would actually affect the resale value of our home if we didn't have this! ..."

IMO, a young family with small children that is looking at such a house is simply looking at the wrong house. A house with one bedroom for adults on the first floor and all other bedrooms on upper floors is a house designed for a family with adolescent children and/or for empty nesters who have visitors.

Such a house plan physically seperates the family and occupants from one another, so it's important that such seperation and privacy is really a positive advantage over time.

One needs to plan a new house for the next 3-5 years of their life in mind (because odds are the family will move after that time, whether or not they initially plan for a move or not) and make the necessary living compromises after the first 3-5 years (if they stay in the house), and not the other way 'round.

Of course, there's different strokes for different folks, so whatever floats one's boat!


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

I'd be more apt to put a staircase in the foyer and remove the one in the family room. This would give you easier access to the upstairs and more square footage in your family room. Also remember that teens like to sneak out of the house and a back stair next to the back door is an easy exit. Having to come down the front stairs and go out the front door give the parent a little bit more of a chance of catching them.

Moving every 3-5 years is absurd. Planning just for kids is hogwash. It's the parents house and should suit their needs and desires first and foremost.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

That is part of the reason I'm putting 2 masters in - one on the first floor (to be used by my father for now, me down the road) and one upstairs. Neither are terribly grand - that's not my style - but a comfortable size, with a nice bath and a decent closet.

For now I agree - I'd be up and down a lot, to do final kisses, check lights, wake them up, find that one shirt they want . .

But reconfiguring for a stair that is closer to the master bedroom may work well. And yes, I'd certainly have baby monitors set up, even if older!!


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

It seems like you are double counting some of the costs. If the removal of the stair saves floor area cost how can it also increase the size of the bathroom at no additional cost?


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

Renovator8, the savings in square footage is the difference between the loss of space from the staircase and the addition of the square footage in the bathroom meaning that we lost more square footage by taking away the stairs and only gained some square footage in the bathroom. Overall the square footage is less even though we gained more space in the bathroom. Make sense?


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

We have always preferred a 1st floor master with the secondary bedrooms up - from the very first house we ever built before we had kids to the one we just finished. When they were newborns, I simply slept in the upstairs guest bedroom so I could tend to their needs and, as they grew older, left a baby monitor on in case of bad dreams and such where they might be too afraid to get out of bed to come get me. We've been in our new house about a month now and my 9 year old needed us once in the middle of the night - he summoned us via text message. Gotta love living in the 21st century...

Again, I absolutely love having our staircase empty into the kitchen/family room. It truly makes this the heart of the house and is the center of activity!


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

First floor master is very normal in my area of Texas as well. In fact, the only houses that I see with a master up stairs is simply due to narrow lots and having to have the garage as part of the house footprint killing living space down stairs.

Kids grow. Kids may be young now but in a couple years they will be fine on their own. If you are building a house you plan on staying in, I dont believe building for the current family is the way to go.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

"...first floor master is very normal in my area..." simply means one is looking at existing builder's homes who built them that way. Why buy something just because there's lots of them? A custom designed home can be designed in any way that supports its owner's living priorities and aspirations.

If one wants a first floor master bedroom with all other bedrooms on the second floor, that's fine. On the other hand, if one wants all the bedrooms on the first floor, second floor or any floor--that's fine too!

The point is that everyone lives their life and raises their family (if they have one) differently and houses should support those individual approaches. Why buy something one really doesn' like and that doesn't allow one to live as they prefer?

As for a "forever" house, that topic has been discussed here repeately. Some folks do live for 20 years or more in the same house, but the real estate statistics are also real, i.e., many individuals sell their house and move after 3-5 years for a variety of reasons. So plan accordingly.

The OP asked about 1 stair or 2--I guess the answer is which ever best supports the lifestyle of the family.

Good luck on your project.


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RE: One Staircase or Two?

I love the old houses with two staircases. I understand that they are impractical and expensive and just don't make sense.

But when I hire an architect to design a home for my family that will be one of the items on my wish list. We shall see.


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