The Rise of the "Dual-Master Bedroom"?

(Hemera)

This statistic seems unbelievable to me on a few dimensions, but it is still worth thinking about:

The National Association of Homebuilders predicts that by 2015, 60% of new homes will be designed with “dual master bedrooms.”

From a CNN.com article called “Options for Your Mediocre Marriage.” One option:

If it’s possible, consider separate bedrooms. You’d be surprised how the creation of privacy and nonmarital spaces in a marriage might help. Already one in four Americans sleep in separate bedrooms or beds from their spouses.

Even if the 1 in 4 number is true (and that includes separate beds, not only bedrooms), I wonder how that translates into demand for a 60% supply of “dual masters.”


Shoshana Grossbard

Makes no sense to me given that the housing market is driven by first time home buyers and most first time home buyers are young couples. I assume that the tendency to sleep apart increases significantly with duration of marriage.

Justin Dearing

Maybe the second master bedroom is simply a bigger office? I know of two cases where a couple and a single person rented a three bedroom apartment, and the third bedroom became an office for a person that telecommuted. This also had the side effect of making it easier to split the rent three ways.

nee

..and how that relates to the divorce rate..

policychick

RENTERS!

James

Perhaps because married couples wanting separate bedrooms aren't the only people wanting dual master bedrooms. Others could be as an alternative to the "granny flat" for aging parents, or for adult kids who come home to mom & dad (often with their kids in tow - it's happened to two of my immediate neighbors). Or perhaps some people have frequent houseguests...

ray

I imagine what will happen in many cases is that one of the master bedrooms will be a true master bedroom and the second will be used by the wife as a changing room/dressing room or other space of their own. Husbands traditionally get space of their own in a den or office which I imagine will be included in a house big enough for two master bedrooms to begin with.

The real question is will 60% of new construction buyers be able to afford it? And will they be able to find a buyer when their jumbo loan goes belly up?

Robbo

I first saw these in Southern California. Dual masters is a good idea for roommates. You plit the rent and both get the big bedroom. With people marrying later, maybe there is more demand as unattached singles team up to reduce housing costs.

Sonia

Stock vs. Flow.

Not saying I think the number is right, but considering the relatively low percentage of the housing stock that is replaced each year, it would make sense for the flow number (houses built) to be substantially higher than the stock (number of houses in existence).

MRB

Out whole country is stupid. We complain that the American Dream of home ownership is out of reach of middle class people, but then again, we are building homes with TWO master bedrooms just for the parents. Most people who grew up in 'Golden Age' America lived in a modest house, shared a bedroom with their brothers or sisters, etc. The fact is, middle class people can still afford that quality of home, it's just not fashionable anymore.

Ulysses

"One in four in separate beds OR separate bedrooms." For the separate bedrooms part, it's probably more like 0.4 in 4. The other 3.6 in 4 are finicky sleepers...and I doubt it's even that many.

If there's a reason for dual master bedrooms rising (or rather, coming into existence I should say [never heard of it before]), it probably indicated "two masters," which is to say two separate people on the mortgage. For example, my sister and her husband in one suite; myself and my girlfriend in the other. This is how you get MORE HOUSE for HALF THE PRICE!

Which on that note, I wonder if the recession and growing wage gap will (or has) shifted the culture a little bit more towards a familial structure, rather than the ol' free-wheeling, individualistic ethos that upward mobility and easy credit enabled. In other words, kids back with mom after college...brothers and sisters living together...and so on.

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Sean Nufer

One would think that we take a lesson from the last 10 years and begin scaling back. Compare houses of today versus home from 100 years ago. Our closet space has grown (to the point that they are like small bedrooms in some cases), our kitchens are monumental, garages are palatial, etc. Now two master bedrooms (each likely with a bathroom)? Are the above statistics reflective of our nations marital woes, or is it just that we are becoming overly individualistic and needy of more of life's luxuries? Or maybe we're just taking lessons from 1960's television programming.

Tucker

Couldn't that remainder be accounted for by the multi-generational demand for bedrooms? If your elderly parents or child in his or her 20s are living with you, you probably want them to have a separate master bedroom.

John B

This post should have been written 5 years ago - before the real estate debacle.

The values of those 5,000 square foot mini-mansions are plummetting and people are looking f0r smaller, more realistic homes.

So writing about dual master bedrooms is meaningful to a very tiny minority; the 60% figure is illusory, written by a cheer-leading group that has nothing to cheer about.

Shani

That's one thing you can see if you tour old (fancy) houses a lot, that the husband and wife had individual bedrooms with substantial office/social space. It's not a terrible idea.

Marie

I watch a lot of home improvement shows (I know, I know... admitting you have a problem is the first step) and I think fewer people are looking for dual masters as a way to find space in their relationship. A surprising number seem to be planning to have their child live with them *forever*. I think it's really a reflection of the evolution in child-rearing. Ourgrandparents crammed a bunch of kids in a single room with a large bed - play outdoors, kids! Our parents made us share rooms with a sibling, and we all shared a single bathroom - that's your side, this is my side of the room. We give our children luxurious suites and lots of privacy in the hopes that we won't have to see or hear them since we're too afraid to let them go outside.

Benjamin

60% sounds low. Think of a "man cave" with a bed and you might agree.

whitney

I would wager that for most people exploring this option, it isn't about the need for personal space, it's about the desperate need for a good night's sleep! Snoring, tossing and turning, talking in the sleep - I know more than one couple who sleep in different rooms for these reasons. The insinuation that wanting this means that something is "wrong" with your marriage is a generalized falsehood, and I expect so much more from Freakonomics than that.

Nathan

This makes perfect sense to me!

The second master would make a great guest room, in-law suite, or for a roommate AND the "occasional" or "permanent" bedroom for married couples who need time apart.

60% of new homes sounds a bit high, but then again, how else can the new home market differentiate itself from existing houses with the "old layout of a single master bedroom"

FTHurley

I know my wife and I (who at the risk of over-sharing do NOT want separate bedrooms) have thought about having a second master bedroom in our dream house (which we're of course nowhere near ready to build). The idea is that one would be on the ground floor and one would be upstairs (on the same level as the other bedrooms). There are three advantages:

1.) Aging parents could stay with us without having to climb lots of stairs each day.
2.) As WE age, the same option would then be available to us.
3.) In the meantime, our bedroom would be on the same level as the kids' room(s).

I guess a sub-benefit to #1 would also be that any other guests who visit aren't sleeping right next to family bedrooms - there would be a modicum of separation, which the old yankee in me would appreciate.

Of course, this all carries with it the unspoken understanding that we'll actually be able to afford a place with all these bedrooms, and that there will be lots of room where we actually want to live for a house with so much space. In that sense, it's not different than a billiard room of a wine cellar - it's an awesome feature that's probably not worth the extra cash unless you're pretty well off (or drink way too much wine).

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sunfell

Perhaps non-traditional families or living arrangements need to be taken into consideration. A second master suite is great for a live-in relative, or long-term roommate for single people. (My parents did end up in separate bedrooms- due to health problems.)