Do All Two-Story House Designs Look The Same?

While most homeowners might think designers are confined to a single, over-riding two-story house design, looking deeper reveals that several key differences can dictate variations in the floor plan. There are more choices available with two-story floor plan designs than what you might initially suspect.

Modern Two-Story Layout

Modern design trends tend to favor a basic two-story layout with family living areas grouped on the ground floor alongside amenities such as kitchen, dining, laundry, and powder room. There may also be an additional space for a separate study or home office tucked away on the ground floor. In many home designs, there is also an attached garage that enables secure, covered access into the house. Alternatively, single space driveways are normally located close to the entry to the house, to enable the convenient transfer of supplies into the ground floor kitchen, and quick access to the house with minimal exposure to adverse weather.

This modern ground floor layout is very functional, and often feeds out onto an outdoor entertainment area, either covered or uncovered. The flow from the kitchen to the outdoor dining area is seamless and conveniently close. With an emphasis on entertainment in modern living, this is the perfect solution, adding additional living space to the house in an economical way.

The second-story floor plan generally consists of bedrooms, the main bathroom, and often an ensuite bathroom off the master bedroom. Variations on the theme can include an upstairs rumpus or additional living space, and/or a smaller study area.

Workable floor plan variations

However, a popular variation to such a standard layout is the translocation of the master bedroom, robe, and ensuite bathroom down to the ground floor, technically leaving the entire upper level to solely accommodate the children. There are advantages to this strategy. The living areas and master bedroom can be maintained in tidy order for the presentation to visitors while the out-of-sight second story may have the lived-in signs of a family home, with the comfortable disarray typical of spaces inhabited by children or teens.

By designing the lower floor with the master suite separated from the rest of the bedrooms, the parents effectively have built themselves a retreat, gaining privacy and welcome separation from the younger generation. This option is more attractive to homeowners with older children. When the children are small, parents may still prefer to cluster all of the bedrooms on the upper floor, so they can attend to the children.

two story house design option

Alternative two-story house designs

This standard two-story house design, however, can vary considerably under differing circumstances, often dictated by unique features of the building site. In elevated areas, it is not uncommon for homes to be built down a slope. With the entry to the house and car accommodation at street level, the rest of the house may disappear from view to lower levels on the property. Two-story homes designed to accommodate a sloping site often have their living, dining, and kitchen areas on the second floor where the house is entered, at street level. A staircase then leads downstairs to the family bedrooms and bathroom/s on the lower floor. It is in effect a design reversal and it works quite well.

Alternatively, a house designed for a site to catch the views may need to locate the living areas upstairs to fully appreciate the desired view. At the elevated height of the second story, the living areas may be able to overlook nearby buildings or treetops to catch the view which cannot be seen from the ground floor. One or more balconies on this upper level facilitate the enjoyment of the views, integrating the feature both with daily living and entertaining. With such a second-floor home design, the bedrooms are tucked in underneath at ground level.

Small or narrow house designs may also vary from the standard two-story floor plan with the reduced floor area not allowing for living spaces downstairs. The lower level may include car accommodation, laundry, storage, and the staircase and if space permits, possibly a study or home office. Meanwhile, the bedrooms, amenities, and living areas are all located together on the upper floor. This is still a workable second-floor home design and answers the demands of a small or narrow building site. Outdoor dining and entertaining can still be achieved off the kitchen and dining area on the second floor, with the addition of a balcony.

With a little imagination and some original design ideas, it is not difficult to create a less conservative floor plan for a two-story home. Taking advantage of what may at first appear to be negative aspects of the building block, homeowners can turn a problem site into an imaginative palette for the design of their own, distinctive two-story house design.