The Advantages of One-Story Living

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for Direct from the Designers™

Maybe you’ve noticed that single-level living arrangements seem to be growing in popularity. Far from limited to just small cottages and modest ranches, you can find one-story house plans in every size and style. You might be wondering what’s driving the demand for these homes, and if you should jump on the bandwagon. Even if you’ve always imagined moving into a two-story house, here are some reasons why people love living on one level, and why you might want to consider it, too.


With three bedroom suites in a split arrangement, House Plan 9773 is a fantastic home for a family with older children. See more great one-story homes in our One-Story House Plan Collection.

Planning for the Future

Without a doubt, the aging baby boomers are behind the rise of the one-story home. This generation is settling down for retirement, and they intend to age in place. The baby boomers have the numbers to affect this change, but the reality is that people across all ages are planning for their futures. Between the economy and focusing on more sustainable living, homebuyers are waiting longer to settle down and they want their purchases to serve them for as many years as possible. If the location is right, why go through the hassle of a starter home, a family home, and then finding another place when it’s time for retirement?

There are plenty of homes that serve people across all ages and levels of ability—you definitely don’t have to feel like you’re waiting to grow into your overly accessible home. By choosing a one-story home, you’ve already made a simple decision that will suit you in old age while you’re focused on everything else that you love about it in the meantime. Universal design has been gaining popularity across the board, so you might even find that your dream home also already comes equipped with spacious bathrooms with walk-in showers, wide halls and doorways, and generally unrestricted layouts that are easy to move through.

Bellawood Select Tamboril

Pairing a richly colored floor with bright windows and light treatments helps to draw the eye around a room. This Bellawood Select Tamboril flooring from Lumber Liquidators shows off a range of hues that support the flowing look of movement in open floor plans.

Flowing Floor Plans

Anybody shopping for a place to live knows that open floor plans are all the rage. The bigger, breezier atmosphere afforded by taking out the walls that delineate formal living areas gives a home a modern feel that is well appreciated and always helps with resale. While any type of architecture can contain an open floor plan inside, one-story homes have the benefit of showing them off the best.

When you choose to spread all of your living spaces rather than stack them, your home feels that much more connected. You experience it walking across the house as well as when your eye travels—the open ambiance is greater than if the same amount of area is instead fragmented by stairs. A great room is one thing, but if it joins to every other room, it seems that much greater. Even in large, more traditional layouts, a gallery hallway helps to achieve the same flow through the floor plan. A home built around a central room or passageway is easier to navigate and doesn’t allow any space to feel like it is somehow separate.

You want to design your interior to maintain this flowing feeling—don't let that great underlying floor plan go to waste! The first thing you should settle on is flooring that you want to install throughout as much of the house as possible; having a consistent foundation links your spaces so your interior design feels continuous even if you choose a variety of other finishes to use in specific areas. Light woods create a brighter ambiance that many people prefer, as they visually expand square footage, but darker woods also work well with carefully considered wall colors. A beautiful interior can be created no matter how you decide to proceed!

Integrity Windows Wood-Ultrex Polygon

Wood-Ultrex Casement and Round Top windows from Integrity® from Marvin® Windows and Doors give this lofty single-story a larger and brighter look. Check out all the window options available—you'll find there are many beautiful ways to incorporate them that enhance even small homes.

No Design Compromises

It’s surprising how many people choose two-story homes because they want a grand foyer and vaulted ceilings—but the fact is that you can get the same things with only one story. There’s nothing stopping you from finding a great home with gables, high windows, and voluminous overhead spaces that also has the type of floor layout you require. Architects pride themselves on creating beautiful designs within the parameters that their customers provide, so it has been done many times before.

All it really takes is a raised roofline. The higher roof allows for higher ceilings and opens the door for bigger and better window arrangements that seem to expand the spaces around them. Perhaps if you’ve already started shopping for homes, you’ve come across a few deceptive ranches or cottages that really look like they have two stories. You can’t always tell by what you see from the exterior! People like certain design elements, so designers work to provide them in a multitude of packages to suit a range of wants and needs. So, definitely don’t compromise and get a two-story home if you really would prefer to live on one level—the professionals know all the best tricks to make your new home just how you’ve always dreamed.

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