Seeing Double: These are the New Home Features to Double Up On

Two refrigerators sit side by side in the Edge D Plan by Kolter Homes at the Alton community in Palm Beach Garden, Fla.

Two refrigerators sit side by side in the Edge D Plan by Kolter Homes at the Alton community in Palm Beach Garden, Fla. Two refrigerators are ideal for large families or those who entertain often.

Instead of dueling over the space on the kitchen island or over the bathroom sink in the hall bathroom, homebuyers today can opt for pairs of these features and more.

Builders and architects are doubling-up on numerous home features to offer greater convenience and function to residents or to enhance their entertaining capacity.

Here are a few dynamic duos popping up in newly built townhouses and single-family homes of various sizes:

• Dual Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands seem to grow exponentially each year, even in townhouses, since homeowners like to use them as a multipurpose space for prepping food, dining, entertaining and doing homework.

“People who entertain a lot request a second island and so do people who want enough seating in their kitchen for six people or more,” says Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes in Chicago. “I’ve seen them with different counters and cabinets to contrast with each other for a dramatic look.”

• Double Appliances

While double-ovens have been common for decades, some homeowners are stepping up their entertaining game or just making it easier to accommodate every family member with two refrigerators and double dishwashers.

“In our high-end homes, we offer doubles of all our appliances so buyers can personalize their kitchen,” says Marc Friedman, vice president of sales at Kolter Homes in West Palm Beach, Fla. “People used to have an extra refrigerator in their garage, but it’s much nicer to have two side-by-side in the kitchen for people who entertain a lot.”

• Dual Kitchens

A second kitchen can be a great option for caterers to use when entertaining or to keep some foods separate from others, such as for Orthodox Jewish families, says Benach.

While double kitchens sound like a luxury reserved for a large single-family home, Ken Fixler, president of Barnett Homes in Chicago, says his company adds a second kitchen to the lower level or to the upper level in a multi-story townhouse. The second kitchen is convenient if multiple generations share the house and for entertaining on an adjacent roof deck.

• Double Laundry Rooms

Instead of dueling over the space on the kitchen island or over the bathroom sink in the hall bathroom, homebuyers today can opt for pairs of these features and more.A bedroom-level laundry room, desired by most homeowners who want to avoid carrying laundry up and down stairs, can be supplemented by a laundry room off the kitchen or garage for greater convenience.

“Families enter the home through a rear alley or a garage in a lot of the homes we build in Chicago, so it’s great to be able to dump muddy, wet or snowy clothes right into the laundry machine,” says Fixler. “It’s also nice if you have kids’ sports uniforms that you don’t want to carry all over the house.”

Friedman says buyers like to personalize their homes, so sometimes the upper level laundry room is the supplemental machine to a larger laundry room near the kitchen.

• Dual “Jack-and-Jill” Bathrooms

“Jack-and-Jill” bathrooms, which connect two secondary bedrooms, have been around for generations. Now Benach says he’s building multiple sets of Jack-and-Jill bathrooms because they’re a more efficient use of space than having a separate bathroom attached to each bedroom.

“The Jack-and-Jill bath typically has two separate spaces for getting ready, each with their own vanity, plus a third area with a tub, shower and toilet,” says Benach. “People who want a home with five bedrooms upstairs really like this option since we have room for that fifth bedroom and yet everyone has their own space.”

• Double Sinks in the Secondary Bathroom

A double-sink vanity is on the wish list for most people in their master bathroom, but two sinks are also practical in a secondary bathroom shared by two or more bedrooms. “Two sinks are an option we offer in most shared secondary bathrooms, but we’re finding that if there’s space, more people want an ensuite bathroom for every bedroom,” says Friedman. “Otherwise, a double-sink vanity in the shared bathroom is a popular option.”

• Dual Bathrooms in the Master Suite

While not common, Friedman says “his-and-hers” bathrooms in the master suites are occasionally requested in high-end homes with enough square footage to accommodate the additional bathroom.

• Double Master Suites

A first-floor bedroom suite with a full bathroom and walk-in closet is a popular choice for larger homes, says Friedman. “Buyers can decide if they want that to be the master suite or to use the upper-level master suite, which usually has more space,” he says.

Dual master suites are also a popular option in townhouses, says Benach. “They’re great for roommates buying together, for empty nesters who want a nice guest space for their adult kids and as an in-law suite,” says Benach.

The two suites can be on the same floor or on two separate floors in a townhouse.

• Dual Mudrooms

Storage space and functional space are top priorities for homebuyers today, so Fixler says some of their homes come with two mudrooms or family entrances. “We try to add functionality everywhere, so we offer a mudroom off the garage and one on the main level, each with storage so that family members have a place to put things no matter which entrance they use into the house,” says Fixler.

Lot sizes, square footage of the house, family configurations, homeowner lifestyles and of course budgets drive the decision about whether to double-up on some features. Builders and architects are increasingly designing homes with the option of at least some of these pairs for buyers.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades. You can find her on Google+.

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