Master on the main: Love it or hate it?

You can tell what year a house was built based on a couple of things: Is the master bathroom gigantic and is the master on the main?

Somewhere in the 90s (or was it the 80s?) builders decided parents wanted the master bedroom on the main level away from their kids. The theory is the parents would get more privacy but I actually think it just causes more problems.

In my first two houses the master was upstairs with the kids. In this house, the master is downstairs, and I hate it.

My just-turned 4-year-old thinks we are way too far away from her room and wants to sleep in our bed every night. In the old house she was fine in her own bed because we were right down the hall.

When she does fall asleep in her own bed, I worry that she will fall down the stairs trying to come to us during the night. I set up fencing that she would have to be semi-awake to navigate through. I didn’t want to use a locking gate the top stairs in case of a fire – no adult would be up there to let them out.

Another reason I hate the master on the main is the upstairs seems to get messier faster without us up there policing things. There are fewer chances to walk by and yell “hey, clean up your room.” I just don’t go up there that often so messes form quickly.

I also hate the master on the main because it is right behind the family room, where the TV is. I feel like I constantly hear the TV. I don’t feel like I get as much quiet time in this room as I did when my bedroom was upstairs.

My girlfriend is considering moving to master-on-the-main house so I wanted to let other people defend the master on the main concept. I am sure with older kids a lot of my issues would be solved, but my girlfriend has a 3-year-old.

Do you like the master on the main and why? Would you get it again? Have you noticed similar problems that I am having with the master on the main? How have you gotten around similar issues?

98 comments Add your comment

Bluebell

March 23rd, 2011
1:15 am

Does anyone even edit this blog for content? Is having a master bedroom on the main floor an important subject for mothers? A real cutting edge problem? Especially for poor moms out there who have yet to see a master bedroom, much less have one on the main floor. You’re lucky to even have a house since you write like a fifth grader who has never seen a dictionary. AJC, mothers are fine and necessary but can’t you find someone better to write about them? Someone who didn’t let her kids play in the sprinkler during the drought and brag about it in this blog? Someone who actually researches her writing and is capable of writing more than 4 inane paragraphs about something she pasted into her blog from the New York Times? This writer has proven time and time again that she just can’t cut it. There are a lot of pressing issues that mothers face that deserve real attention. Having a master bedroom on the ground floor is not one of them. Unless the whole idea of this blog is having an idiot write brainless copy based on the grounds that women are stupid. If that’s the point you have succeeded brilliantly.

DB

March 23rd, 2011
2:27 am

Bluebell, coming from you, who thinks that young girls “have the bodies” for trashy clothes and should be allowed to wear whatever they want, you’ll have to pardon me if I don’t take your little rant very seriously. Not every topic has to be death-defying serious solve-the-problems-of-the-world. Personally, I think it’s a good question, and if you have young kids and are looking to buy a house, it certainly brings up points worth considering. Do you think that two moms who sit at a kitchen table and kibbitz for a while are solving all the world’s problems? No — they are talking about things in their world, things that they have to deal with in their everyday life.

I stand back and am prepared to be amazed at whatever topics YOU suggest. Oh, wait — you haven’t. You’ve just bitched at T. because you don’t like HER topics. Don’t like ‘em? Then don’t waste your time. Or ours.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 23rd, 2011
3:05 am

Bluebell (Jones)– In the last two days we have dealt with divorce, guns in our homes, serving alcohol to minors, and the generational morality of mothers and how that affects their daughters. We always cover a wide variety of topics, and a question about how people live in their homes is worth discussing.

There are generally 8 to 10 topics a week on this blog. If you don’t like a topic, then don’t discuss it. Move on to something else somewhere else on ajc.com. When you come on just to insult the topic you are intimidating other people from commenting and that is against the spirit and the rules of the blog.

Stay on topic or risk being banned.

mom2alex&max

March 23rd, 2011
6:49 am

Bluebell: no one makes you hang out here. If you don’t like a topic, move on.

PHR

March 23rd, 2011
7:06 am

I personally like my master upstairs and my guest room downstairs. That way if we had guests then they would have a little privacy and so would we.

Theresa, maybe you will like the master on the main level a little more when you have pre-teens and teenagers! :)

newblogger

March 23rd, 2011
7:21 am

@Bluebell-we’ve been studying the bill of rights in 5th grade and yes the 1st amendment gives you the right to say anything you want, but the 5th amendment gives you the right to remain silent. Unless you have something nice to say, please excercise that right. Most of us on here enjoy Theresa’s topics. If we don’t, then we have the good sense to move on to something else. You sound like a bitter person who needs to make themselves feel better by tearing others apart. Now, on topic….I totally see your concern with the little ones falling down the stairs. We worried as well. We finally redecorated a downstairs “office” and moved my youngest down there. My oldest was a teenager when we moved in so he was fine. I like the master on the main, that way I don’t have to trudge up the stairs every time I want to go into my room. Lazy? maybe, but it works for us.

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
7:31 am

Bluebell…I am a writer too. What I write does not appeal to most people but it works for many.
If this blog does not work for you…I think we are fine with it.

At the risk of being redundant, this blog is like a chat over the fence…back when neighbors did so.
Sometimes, we talk about serious topics and sometimes it is more like which cereal stays crunchy longer in milk (yes, some folks have no cereal) or which fish is the best pet for our kids ( and some kids do not have pets).

Since being married, we have mostly lived in one story houses. with the exception of the condo we rented with 2 masters upstairs. This was when we first moved to Atlanta. Son was 2 and he never meandered into our room.

We now have 3 levels. Bedrooms are all upstairs. Our house is almost 14 years old. I am getting tired of climbing stairs every day but know it is good exercise. Finishing the basement was the best thing we did when the kids got to be teens. When they took their friends down there we could not hear them in the bedroom upstairs. They were safe in our house but not bothering us. TWG do house in AZ have basements? I am thinking they do not. We did not have many basements in TX.

I rarely go to the basement, now that they are both out at college.

shaggy

March 23rd, 2011
7:33 am

Bluebell (Jones) is just an itty-bitty, insignificant, and lame troll, who doesn’t even know what “edit for content” actually means. He is jealous, because anything to do with “owning” a house is totally out of the question on his McDonalds salary. Ignore the little troll, and the little troll will petulantly exit stage right.

Topic – I have never owned a two story house. They are too expensive to heat/cool, too hard to clean, and any maintenence done on the 2nd level is a “project”. However, If I had a bigger family, I would probably have to go two story for needed space. You buy what you need, I guess.

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
7:34 am

Well, we have spent more time in this house than all the rest…I guess I should count. We lived in 8 houses in the first 14 years of our marriage and the last 14 have been in this one.

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
7:38 am

@ shaggy…maybe that is why my upstairs is never pristine…silly me, I thought it was because more folks would be likely to enter and see the downstairs, so I try to keep it neater. Thanks for clarifying…:)…just teasing…

My husband decided to replace the siding on the fireplace on our second story. A dear friend was helping. Let’s just say they had a little trouble with the ladder and both were hobbling. We had to hire it out to the professionals!

justmy2cents

March 23rd, 2011
7:50 am

The house I live in now was renovated back in the 90’s, so it has two masters. One is on the main level, and the original master is upstairs. My oldest got the old master (smaller bathroom, bigger closet), and we took the main level (HUGE bedroom & bathroom, walk in closet). We never let the kids sleep with us, so it was never an issue of them coming downstairs at night.

As far as messier- the kids have daily chores and we check them every evening. They each have their own bathroom, and I will say the 8 year old could do a better job, but it is still cleaner than most bathrooms I see. My bedroom is the messy one :o) I did all the cleaning I wanted (and then some) in the Army, so I tend to slack off a bit and my dresser remains extremely cluttered. Don’t like it?? Don’t look! That’s my motto!!

jess

March 23rd, 2011
7:53 am

Home built in 1999 has a guest on main, large master suite upstairs. On the rare occasion we have guests, especially aging family members, I like that concept better.

Love my house the way it is now, but once the kids are gone it’ll be way too big. A small one story, with a basement would be perfect. It was hard getting our parents to downsize because they wanted the space when we would all gather once maybe twice a year. Hopefully the housing market will atleast stabilize in 10 years, don’t want or expect a massive profit just want to break even.

RJ

March 23rd, 2011
8:09 am

@Jess, I’m with you. I live in a 5 bedroom room with a guest bedroom on the main. I love that for my guests. However, once my kids are grown and gone, we’re sizing down. a ranch on a basement is all I want.

I think a master on the main works best when the kids are older. As they get older, you might just want to get away from them and the loud music and video games.

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
8:09 am

@ just…could you send your kids over here? Mine are off to college…;)
My daughter did clean the house for me last week, when she was home from college.

Photius

March 23rd, 2011
8:11 am

Do not let your child sleep in your bed. Be the parent and order their little behind back upstairs to sleep in their own bed. I simply don’t understand this rather new behavior with parents who allow their children to sleep in the parents bed – it is absolutely the wrong thing to do for child development and it’s self indulgent for the adult.

Master on the main? Be thankful that might be the height of your problems considering the unemployment rate, the economy, and the housing market with ongoing mortgage defaults.

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
8:12 am

@ RJ…when we put our “ranch” up for sale and we had a call to ask how many acres went with it…

uh..1/2? We still laugh about it. All in the perspective!

Lori

March 23rd, 2011
8:35 am

I have a ranch now, which was great for raising my son. Everything is all close together. We are considering moving now though, and a new baby is on the way, so I don’t think I’d go for the master on main thing. I just wouldn’t want to be that far from the nursery. I didn’t even think about what if the house was on fire (OMG) I would definitely want to be close to the kids to help them get out. I agree that the master on main thing would be great with older kids and teens, then we could have some separate space. And I like the concept of a guest on the main (as long as there is a full bath down there), so they can stay out of our living space upstairs. But with the baby coming, I’m thinking I want all my bedrooms on the same floor together.

JJ

March 23rd, 2011
8:36 am

My first house has the master on the main. My child was 3 when we moved in. I liked it at first, but she always ended up in my bed, which to me was ok, once in a while. So I moved my bedroom upstairs to be by her, and made the master into a den/tv room.

After a few years, I moved back down to the master, and gave her a “suite” upstairs, with her bedroom, a bathroom and a play room for when her friends came over.

The current house we are in is a split foyer, you walk in and have to either go upstairs or downstairs. The “basement” consists of a laundry room (with a toiled added), the garage, and one HUGE room. This past summer, my daughter moved down into the HUGE room, and made herself a cute little “condo”, complete with her bedroom furniture, a sofa and a TV…..there’s a door to the outside, and a nice patio that I am fixing up for her this summer for her and her friends to go outside and sit, instead of being in the house. I have the entire upstairs, all three bedrooms, which I converted her old bedroom into my office. I’ve never had an office before…..

Betty

March 23rd, 2011
8:39 am

My old house had the master upstairs with the other bedrooms and a guest bedroom and full bath on the main floor and it was perfect. It was great for guests staying over as well as aging parents who have trouble with steps. It was also nice being closer to the children upstairs when they were younger.

Photo Mom of 4

March 23rd, 2011
8:45 am

We have a ranch with split bedrooms and a full basement. It is the perfect combination for us. The teenagers have rooms in the basement and the younger ones are on the main floor, but down the hall a bit. The younger ones were 2 & 3 1/2 when we moved into the house and we didn’t have any problems with them trying climb in our bed at night.

AngryRedMarsWoman

March 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

My home was built in the early 70s. On the main floor, tucked behind the TV room and off the sunroom, is a nice suite with two-room bathroom – I use it as a guest suite and never thought of it as a master. Upstairs, my bedroom is as big as the living room in the home in which I grew up….and I love it. As a family, we spend more time in my bedroom than in the living room, TV room or rec room. My bedroom doesn’t qualify as a master suite though because it doesn’t have its own bathroom (I can hear y’all now….the horror! LOL) – just two bathrooms in the hallway between it and the two other bedrooms on the level. I guess we are truly a product of our own childhood because I never thought of doing anything but sleeping in a bedroom near my child…all together as a family off the same hallway, just like when I was a kid. My house doesn”t get “messy” – my family is too busy for a messy house and that wouldn’t change no matter where I slept.

TinaTeach

March 23rd, 2011
9:00 am

We looked at several house with master bedrooms on the main floor. We thought it was really cool but in the end went with a house that had all the rooms upstairs. We’re glad we did. I have fallen down (and up) the stairs at our house fully awake. I can’t imagine doing it half asleep after checking on our 18 month old.

However with the in-laws living with us, we’d really like to get a house with either a master on the main or at least a guest bedroom on the main. As my MIL ages, her knees are not as happy with the stairs and we’d like to avoid installing a chair lift on our narrow stairway. Having a master on the main floor would allow her to have her room on the main level of the house without having to kill her knees.

YUKI

March 23rd, 2011
9:02 am

Our master is upstairs, and has a separate nursery inside the suite with it’s own door. Talk about nice when my son was a baby. Now he has moved out into his own bedroom next to ours, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine having had to go up and down the stairs every time he needed feeding or anything in the middle of the night. Maybe later I wouldn’t mind having the master downstairs but when your kids are young I think it’s better to be closer to them.

JOD

March 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

We bought our first house way before DD was born, and it was master-on-the-main. No issues with her not sleeping in her own bed, and we had a baby gate just outside her door. With a video monitor, I was usually upstairs within seconds if she needed me.

The new house is a ranch on a mostly finished basement with the master on one side and the bedrooms on the other. Same deal here – still use the video monitor and a baby gate on her hall so she can’t wander around at night (not really an issue, but just in case). This works well for us since she isn’t usually inclined to sleep in our bed.

I will say that the master-on-the-main was annoying since the TV was just on the other side of the wall from the bedroom, and Hubs stays up late, particularly when we have guests. The HVAC unit was on the other side of the wall from the bed, which I HATED and will never do again. Nothing like the A/C running all night in August with an old, noisy unit.

@AngryRedMarsWoman – I can barely share a bathroom with my husband, so perhaps in your house we would have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ bathrooms. But I guess the ‘his’ bathroom would rapidly become a petri dish for the next cancer cure :o) I digress…

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
9:09 am

@ tina…I slid down the stairs and bruised my tail bone more than once. Our little dog was running right next to me and I tripped….ouch. Now, I hold the hand rail like an old granny!

Ya’ll have fun…I am heading out to schools. Enjoy this beautiful spring weather here in Atlanta!

JOD

March 23rd, 2011
9:11 am

@TinaTeach – I though I was the only one capable of falling up the stairs – thanks for making me feel better! Cracked my tailbone and a bone in my foot at the old house…

motherjanegoose

March 23rd, 2011
9:12 am

oops..one more thing…JOD, I found a piece of chewed up gum near our sink…yuck!
I do not chew gum. I asked hubby if he put it there. He was indignant and did not want to claim it. I guess our dog did? Yes, I love a clean bathroom in my hotel room. One I do not share when I am traveling.

justmy2cents

March 23rd, 2011
9:13 am

@ MJG- nope, I’m keeping them :o) My 8 year old makes my coffee in the morning…she took over after the oldest went into middle school and gets to sleep in later in the morning. It still amazes me in the summertime that my 12 year old will get up and make coffee for me. No reason in the world for her to be up that early, but just wants to do me that favor. My kids can be good once in a while! :o)

Lori

March 23rd, 2011
9:19 am

My only requirement for having all the bedrooms upstairs is that the laundry room is up there too. My first house had the laundry room downstairs and I fell down the stairs all the time carrying the clothes down there! It’s nice to know I’m not the only clumsy one….

Techmom

March 23rd, 2011
9:33 am

@Lori – that’s my comment too. Our last house had all the bedrooms upstairs but the laundry was down. Hello? Who thought that was a good idea? You get undressed upstairs, carry dirty laundry down and then have to carry clean laundry back up. Dumb.

The house we’re in now has the master on main and I do like it. Our son is older so we don’t have the baby/little kid issues to worry about. I have an office upstairs but quite honestly, work in the kitchen most days (the coffee pot is closer) so I don’t go upstairs much but it stays relatively clean (again, no little kids). The nice part about having a 2nd floor with most of the bedrooms being upstairs (versus a ranch) is that when you have people over, you really only have half a house to clean.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 23rd, 2011
9:39 am

MJG — no basements here at all. They say the ground is too hard so it’s too costly to dig them out. also risk of flooding because the ground does not absorb the water quickly enough when it does rain.

Lori– no such luck on the laundry room either — downstairs.

Photius – we have been making double mortgage payments and hanging on by our teeth. This has been one of the worst years of our lives. We are very grateful for what we have but have also experienced much of the pain the rest of the country is also going through.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 23rd, 2011
9:50 am

I will try to get a second topic up for later today. My oldest has been home sick for the last three days with severe lung issues (breathing at 50 percent). The doctor has put her on massive steroids and antibiotics. I am hoping she will be breathing easier today. So i will try to get something up later if all is well with her.

1911A1

March 23rd, 2011
9:51 am

Lori, you nailed it. Virtually all dirty laundry is generated in the bedrooms & bathrooms. Why, then, are houses designed with the laundry room on a different floor than the one where all the laundry is generated? That’s like having the stove in the kitchen and the refrigerator in the basement.

jess

March 23rd, 2011
9:55 am

I don’t mind have my laundry downstairs, it’s a mud room with a side entrance that we use alot. Most of the dirty sports clothes get dropped off and don’t go to the bedrooms – my rule! I consider laundry up and down the stairs part of my daily exercise routine.

Re: Falling down the stairs. Hardwood stairs and socks are not a good combination. Love the look and its good for our allergies, etc – but they can be dangerous.

jarvis

March 23rd, 2011
9:58 am

My high school girlfriend’s house was large with the master on the main. It provided ample opportunity to sneak upstairs and fool around after her parents had gone to bed.

It did help my adolescent sex life, but now as the father of a girl, I’ve learned that the boys will be out of the house before I head to bed.

jarvis

March 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

Submitted that before I finished my thought…so the master on the main can open up an entirely new set of issues once the kids hit their teen years.

Techmom

March 23rd, 2011
10:07 am

@jarvis now that my son is nearly 16 and we do live in a house with the master on main, and the completely opposite side of the house as his room, I told my husband we should really have the alarm system activated. I’m not worried about someone trying to get it, we have dogs for that, but rather the boy trying to get out!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 23rd, 2011
10:25 am

techmom — be afraid of the boy going out – my brother went out his bedroom window on the second level, dropped sideways down to the room on the bay window and then jumped to the ground — did it frequently and my parents never knew– I don’t think I even knew until he went to college.

Mattie

March 23rd, 2011
10:31 am

When we were house hunting in 2005, my husband vetoed the master on the main idea. I know now he regrets that. With the oldest getting married, and the younger two away at school, we could have shut off the entire top floor. My dream house would be a ranch with the master at one end and the other bedroom beyond all the living areas. Very common in FL when we lived there, and it was the perfect compromise.

My friend is now trying to sell her master on the main home. She has had many realtors come through and leave feedback. One thing they have not listed as a plus/minus is the master bedroom off the front hallway.

JOD

March 23rd, 2011
10:31 am

@justmy2cents – Wow! Kudos to your kid – what a sweetie. DD is into kissing booboos (which includes freckles and scars). She just covers me in kisses sometimes – totally makes my day :o)

@MJG – Is your post missing, or do I need more caffeine?

@Techmom – We have our alarm hooked up but not monitored for that very purpose…set it to chime so the house tattles on any exterior doors opening…

Techmom

March 23rd, 2011
10:42 am

@JOD our house is wired but not monitored, I guess I should just play with it and see if I can get it to chime when windows & doors are opened before paying for monitoring.

jarvis

March 23rd, 2011
10:45 am

Also, I’m not completely positive her folks didn’t know what was going on.

I suppose they might have thought that if we were engaging in that type of activity, their house may have been a safer location than the backseat of my car or some other “parking” location. Thing with teens is that as a parent you can’t control where they are 24/7.

All of that said, there will be no “action” taking place under my roof when my kids are older.

jarvis

March 23rd, 2011
10:51 am

TWG….I am impressed by your brother’s committment to sneak out. The real question is, how did he sneak back in undetected?

Photius

March 23rd, 2011
10:59 am

Double mortgage payments, mercy. My sympathies and understanding. Financial stressors regarding a family are terrible. Keep your chin up, TWG.

deidre_NC

March 23rd, 2011
11:08 am

theresa i hope your daughter gets better soon!
the preferred layout of a home changes a lot from when the kids are young to when they become teens. when young i would want them close to me…when they become teens please let their rooms or where they hang out be close to the kitchen and their own bath and mine FAR away!! i would have loved to have a guest house for myself when my kids were teens lol…

AK Renovations

March 23rd, 2011
11:09 am

Love it or Hate it – You can always change it! The principles or Universal Design recommend having a room on the main floor – be it master bedroom, office, guest room etc. – that can be converted into a bedroom should the need arise.
You never know when an injury, illness or age might lead to a change in abilities for a family member. Having the ability to adapt a home to the changing needs of it’s inhabitants is what is truly important!
As a Certified Aging In Place remodeling company our firm is happy to help in all situations! http://www.AKAtlanta.com

Wayne

March 23rd, 2011
11:10 am

Jarvis! I was thinking the same thing; how the heck did he get back in?

deidre_NC

March 23rd, 2011
11:10 am

to clarify-my house was the one where all the kids wanted to be. i am very low key and willing to talk to the kids without making them feel stupid or bad for anything they said. so they loved to be here. they knew my rules-NO drinking-NO sex-and several others—other than that they could stay here when they wanted or needed to as long as they kept cleaned up after themselves and NEVER woke me up unless it was an emergency. but ill tell you-once im asleep (especially on a work night) DO NOT wake me up unless its life or death.

JJ

March 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

Theresa be very careful with those steroids….they can make Rose meaner than a snake……

DB

March 23rd, 2011
11:24 am

I just wish we had a bedroom on the main level now. Twenty years ago, we never dreamed we’d be in the same house, since we had been in six houses in the previous six years! The house was built in the late 70s. We have a nice guest suite in the daylight basement with a full bath, and bedrooms upstairs, too — but now that our parents are in their 80s, mobility is definitely an issue. There’s no room on the main level to add a bedroom, otherwise, I’d be seriously considering it. I think in our next house, we would have a master on the main — simply because it’s easier, with kids moving on with their lives, not to have to heat/AC the upper level. We had a one-level house in South Florida, with the master in one wing and the other bedrooms in another, and that was very nice.