Double master suites are the latest trend in luxury homes.

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Why two master bedrooms are the growing trend in Kenyan homes

What you need to know:

  • Double master suites are the latest trend in luxury homes.
  • When planning to build a house, there are realities that don’t manifest themselves from the start.

For many wealthy Kenyan homeowners, one master bedroom is no longer adequate. Double master suites are the latest trend in luxury homes.

The trend, developers and architects say, is due to a growing desire among Kenyans, although married, to live separate sleeping lives or to accommodate married family friends or relatives or to accommodate those who live in multi-generational households, especially the Indian community.

Those who are living with their ageing parents are also choosing to build them additional master bedrooms. These second master bedrooms are as luxurious and spacious as the first; roomy enough to fit a king-sized bed and bigger than the other bedrooms in the house, bathroom and toilet, and a walk-in closet.

“For the last five years, for every five houses I have designed in the country, three have double master bedrooms,” said Nicholas Ochieng' an architect who has practised for 15 years. He is one of the four partners at Synarc Systems, an architectural firm based in Nairobi.

Old age is also contributing to the new trend. Some older couples have sleep issues, and different work schedules, and just want their own space. Others are making room for master suites downstairs and will move in when they are old and cannot access the master bedrooms upstairs.

According to Mr Ochieng', building a house is like going to war, you win in the planning. 

When planning to build a house, there are realities that don’t manifest themselves from the start. Old age and accidents, Mr Ochieng' said are just two examples.

“Take the case of a multiple-storey house, the homeowner wants to be sure that, should there be a time in their lives when they can’t access their bedroom on an upper floor, they can enjoy the same facilities on say, the ground floor of their homes. So instead of knocking down walls to accommodate the new realities if and when they happen, it is easier to plan from the start,” he said.

Simply, such a house allows the homeowner to fill a current need or a possible future need.

The type of family is also a key component in the decision-making process of building such homes. Whether on cultural, religious, or legal proclivity, polygamy is still upheld as a variant of the family setup, and in some cases, some families might elect to live under one roof leading to the inevitability of settling for such designs.

“The modern family has undergone tremendous change in style and constitution. We are witnessing the introduction of polyamorous and polyandrous family setups. In such cases, we have seen people getting into social contracts that necessitate them to have such houses,” said Danstan Omari, a lawyer, who owns two such houses. He has one in Nairobi and the other in his rural home.

“Besides family typology, the nature of the relationship between the principal members might also lead to the development of such houses. We see more and more people defining their relationships as partnerships as opposed to marriages. This is to say, two people could be raising a family together under the same roof but are not bound by legal or cultural terms to live as man and wife. In our line of work, we have been invited to draft agreements that determine the terms of such partnerships, especially when it comes to property ownership,” he said.

In other living arrangements, Mr Ochieng' said, homeowners would like to live near their loved ones. It is becoming increasingly common to find households with multi-generational members of the family. This allows them to easily take care of children, siblings, sickly family members, or ageing parents.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

“In one case, a client requested us to design such a house to accommodate her sister who lives abroad every time she visits. Even though the visits are sparsely spaced, she wanted to optimise her homely experience whenever she is in Kenya,” he said.

Follow a trend

Further, the rise in these types of houses may be attributable to the social-economic dynamics of homeowners’ lives. Even though—or maybe because—building a house is a personal experience, it is largely inspired by the people in one's social sphere.

“Most of the calls I have received lately are referred to me by people whose houses I have designed. Some say they want the same houses they have seen elsewhere or ones with a slight shift in design. Ours is a market that subsists greatly on referrals,” Mr Ochieng' said.

This double master bedroom preference comes at an extra cost.

“It is not easy to say how much the shift in design costs the homeowners as each house comes with its specifications and amenities. However, we can put an industry-generalised cost of between Sh40,000-Sh50,000 per square metre of the built-up area. Again, this is determined by several factors such as the cost of building materials and labour,” Mr Ochieng' said.

“Additionally, the extra bedroom requires furnishing and accessories whose style and class must match that of the house. [which is an additional cost].”

Sh100 million houses

Some of Nairobi's estates that are selling houses with two master bedrooms include Lavington, Karen, Kitisuru and Lower Kabete. The houses range from Sh100 million upwards and can cost as much as Sh150 million in Runda.

Some homeowners have built extra master bedrooms on the topmost floor of the house, and others have two master bedrooms on the same floor. Others have built it on the ground floor.

But as architects work to accommodate the needs of modern families, double master bedrooms will likely become the norm.

Mr Ochieng said the trajectory is likely to rise higher and higher.

"Soon, this could be the new way of building homes and not the exception," he said.