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Twice As Nice: Builders Double Up On Home Features For Flexibility and Convenience

November 22, 2017

Today’s homebuyers are seeing double thanks to a number of popular features builders and architects increasingly are offering in pairs. Designed to enhance convenience and functionality, these dual elements are popping up in new-construction homes and remodel/renovation projects alike. Here are some dynamic duos that are appearing on homebuyers’ and owners’ wish lists.

Double the island, double the fun

When it comes to the kitchen, having one island is a must – but home owners who opt for two of this popular feature can open up even more possibilities for the hub of the home. According to Chicago-area builder Red Seal Homes, which showcases dual islands in a new decorated townhome model at its master-planned Provenance community near Northbrook, Ill., a second island can provide separate spaces for food prep and casual kitchen seating, as well as an extension of entertaining space.

“The kitchen is really a gathering space for the entire family, so having one island where food prep happens and another where kids can spread out with homework or an after-school snack really addresses the multiple functions an island typically serves,” said Brian Hoffman, an executive with Red Seal Homes. “It’s also a great set-up during large family gatherings or parties, when everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen with the cook.”

Elissa Morgante, co-principal of Evanston, Ill.-based Morgante Wilson Architects, notes that many of her firm’s clients have a passion for cooking, and a second island gives the chef of the house the kind of space they want to engage with guests and family members. “Besides increasing functionality, dual islands can also make a striking design statement with features like beautiful stone countertops and furniture-quality finishes that make them the visual focal point of the space,” she said.

Manage the mess with two laundry rooms

For homeowners who have a hard time choosing the best location for the laundry room – upstairs convenient to the bedrooms, or on a lower level near the mudroom – having two can be a good option, especially in households where the laundry room sees a lot of action.

“We’re increasingly building homes with two laundry rooms so families can reap the benefits of both locations – having a washer and dryer on the same level as the bedrooms to avoid hauling baskets of clothes up and down stairs, but also in a mudroom or near a ground-floor entry where sports gear and uniforms as well as muddy, wet or snowy outerwear tend to be dumped,” said Ken Fixler, president of Northbrook-based Barnett Homes. “This last setup means homeowners don’t have to drag bulky or exceptionally dirty clothing and gear through the house to an upstairs laundry room. Plus, once they are clean, these items are close to the area they are normally stored, or are by the door ready to be grabbed next time they’re needed.”

Barnett currently has two homes available for immediate delivery with dual laundry rooms: 717 N. Oak St. in Hinsdale, Ill., a 4,200-square-foot home with five bedrooms, five full baths and one half bath, priced at $1,400,000; and 2014 W. Sunnyside, a 6,900-square-foot home with five bedrooms, five full baths and two half baths, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood and priced at $2,195,000. For more information, visit or call (312) 956-8888.

Increase the baths, decrease the chaos

Even a home with an ample number of bedrooms can present challenges without enough baths to serve everyone living there. While one en suite bath per bedroom sounds ideal, it can be an inefficient use of space and costly to buyers. Instead, some savvy homebuilders offer multiple sets of Jack-and-Jill baths, providing a full bath for every two secondary bedrooms. This design not only affords more privacy as each bedroom is attached to a bath, but it can also make it faster for kids to get ready. As Jack-and-Jill baths are often designed with double-bowl sinks and a separate room containing the tub/shower and toilet, they allow two or more people to use a bathroom at the same time while still offering privacy.

“Dual Jack-and-Jill baths can make mornings and bedtimes much smoother, as it gives kids – and overnight guests – immediate access to a bathroom instead of having to walk down a hall and wait their turn,” said Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes. “One person can be showering while another runs in to brush their teeth. At Lexington Towne at Arlington Heights, we can modify the second-story floor plan of our Brighton model to add a fifth bedroom along with a second Jack-and-Jill bath. We’ve found that this really resonates with buyers, many of whom are buying these larger homes specifically to make everyone in the family more comfortable.”

Lexington Towne at Arlington Heights is an enclave of 15 single-family homes within walking distance of downtown Arlington Heights, Ill. A decorated Brighton model home with five bedrooms, two sets of Jack-and-Jill baths and a three-car garage is available. The home is priced from $784,990 and measures 3,678 square feet. For more information or to make an appointment to visit Lexington Towne, visit or call 847-232-7200.

Dual masters — an oasis for each

Due to changing dynamics of families and lifestyles, the demand for homes with two master bedroom suites continues to be strong among homebuyers as well as those making renovations to existing homes.

At Lexington Pointe in Des Plaines, Ill., and Lexington Crossing in Rolling Meadows, Ill., two townhome communities by Lexington Homes, the option for dual masters is popular with buyers.

“Double master suites are ideal for roommates, as an in-law suite option or for buyers who have frequent visitors and want to offer a private guest suite,” said Benach. “Plus, at both communities, these dual master suites are on opposite sides of the home’s upper level, which means the second suite is in a private, tucked away location with plenty of light versus visitors having to use a guest suite in a basement, which is often the only option in a lot of homes.”

For more information, visit

Adding a second master bedroom also brings flexibility to existing homes, especially when couples find they aren’t on the same schedule or have different visions for their bedroom.

“We recently worked with clients to create a new master wing with individual sleeping areas for him and for her,” said Morgante of Morgante Wilson Architects. “They love that it is still a shared space, with a common entry and hallway and just one master bath, but this setup also takes into account their individual preferences for temperature and light while sleeping. And they of course also took advantage of the opportunity to design their individual spaces to their own personal style and aesthetic.”

Dual master suites – ideal for in-laws, roommates or frequent guests – are a popular option at Lexington Pointe in Des Plaines, Ill., and Lexington Crossing in Rolling Meadows, Ill., two townhome communities by Lexington Homes.

Architecture and interior design firm Morgante Wilson Architects notes that dual kitchen islands are popular among clients who love to cook and entertain.

Red Seal Homes showcases dual kitchen islands in its decorated townhome model at Provenance, a master-planned community near Northbrook, Ill.

Barnett Homes frequently includes two laundry rooms – one upstairs near the bedrooms, and one in a mudroom or near a ground-floor entry – in luxury homes in popular Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs.