Is the Second-Floor Kitchen the Next Big Kitchen Trend?

Putting the kitchen on a higher floor showcases an incredible view in the room you use most. But is a second-floor kitchen a practical choice?

pastel blue, teal, and white kitchen
Photo: Susan Gilmore

In the world of kitchen trends, there’s plenty to be excited about right now: Just take the rise of dark, moody color palettes, integrated appliances, and expansive windows in kitchens as proof that these formerly utilitarian spaces are becoming more beautiful by the day. Still, when we saw that Style by Emily Henderson posted an article about second-floor kitchens as a kitchen trend for 2023, it reminded us that sometimes, breaking home design rules can lead to a delightfully unexpected space.

The Style by Emily Henderson article features designer Erin Brown talking about her decision to move the kitchen of her California home to the second floor, and we can’t help but adore the sprawling views and natural light her choice brings into her kitchen. But is a second-floor kitchen a good idea, practically speaking? We’ll break down some of the pros and cons of this surprising—but potentially highly rewarding—trend.

Kitchen with patterned tile and island
Brie Williams Photography, Inc.

What We Love About a Second-Floor Kitchen

Ground-floor kitchens are the norm, but most building codes don’t actually require this. So, if you have an amazing view (as Brown does), why not make the most of it by putting the rooms you use most in pride of place?

Flipping the traditional floor plan in favor of an inverted floor plan has several benefits—including making the most of a view: “An ocean view from our bedroom was the first option, but we just don’t spend a ton of waking hours in our bedroom, and I felt like the view would be neglected most of the time,” Brown told Style by Emily Henderson.

Designing a second-floor kitchen around expansive windows also allows for more flexibility in design choices, as you aren’t limited to using light cabinets and floors to keep the space bright and welcoming—those windows can take care of that. Plus, if you need more storage, you can always hang floating shelves across windows and still get plenty of natural light.

A second-floor kitchen may also be more energy-efficient, since an inverted floor plan often means the bedrooms are tucked away on lower floors, where they will stay cooler in the summer months and protected from the residual heat of the kitchen. To maximize efficiency and make the most of your storage and views, consider hiring a designer to walk you through the process of what you might need.

kitchen with wooden island and green and yellow cabinets
Nathan Schroder

What to Know Before Building a Second-Floor Kitchen

Aesthetics aside, the most important thing to consider when designing a kitchen is usability. Since you will be hauling groceries up (and trash down), it might be a good idea to incorporate a set of direct-access entry steps that lead to your trash cans and vehicles. For Brown, this wasn’t as much of a factor as she thought it might be, as the issue “is not unique only to a second-floor kitchen—anyone who lives in a multi-story building deals with this,” she told Style by Emily Henderson.

The cost is another consideration. For instance, you may need to install a new or additional water heater to accommodate the change in water needs. There may also be an added cost to extend utilities (like plumbing, natural gas, and electricity) to the upstairs space and to create proper drainage for things like dishwashers, garbage disposals, appliances, and sinks. And, of course, this is no small change: While you could put your second-floor kitchen in a new construction with relative ease, it would likely be much more challenging (and expensive) to move your kitchen to a new floor during a renovation.

Also, if you are putting bedrooms below your kitchen, you may want to include some soundproofing elements into your design—like soft-close cabinets and sound-dampening flooring—to minimize the pitter-patter of busy feet while the rest of the household is sleeping.

Finally, it’s worth considering how a second-floor kitchen may affect the resale value of your home, because it simply may not be a feasible choice for some homebuyers—particularly those who are aging or those who have small children. The popularity of both single-level homes and first-floor primary bedrooms is on the rise because buyers are seeking flexibility in their home purchases and want the sort of home that will allow them to age in place. For these buyers, even a stunning view while they sip their morning coffee may not be enough to sell them on the inverted floor plan.  

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