How To Bed and Breakfast: Optimizing a 2-Storey House


2-Storey homes generally have more layout options available to the prospective bed and breakfast operator. However, the flow of guests through the house can be a little trickier than in a single storey home. We will follow the optimization steps in a typical example.


It is sometimes difficult to come up with a "generic" home plan; I searched a great deal before settling on this one. It's not overly large, coming in at at about 1800 square feet; with this floor space you can operate a 2 or 3 bedroom B&B. So here goes: we will apply the rules from previous articles and see what changes are necessary.

The Plan

Whenever you bring lodging guests into a 2 storey home, they're a little harder to keep track of. From the point of view of your guest, its a little easier to get lost!. Fortunately this home's efficient layout makes getting lost difficult. Check out the 2-piece bath behind the stairs! That's efficient! Similarly, the upstairs, with its central hallway, lends itself very well to guest accommodation. I have drawn in yellow arrows to show the expected travel paths of the guests as they move between floors.

  • Taking Control

Now we'll apply the rules of the previous articles to make this plan work. It would certainly work OK with no changes whatsoever, but we can fine-tune it to make it a dream to operate. For starters, I don't think the owner of this home should have guests wandering into every corner, especially the kitchen and utility areas. You might say, "it’s a bed and breakfast, so how is breakfast served?" This is easily solved by putting a little dining table around the corner from the foyer, which can handle light guest traffic. If it gets really busy, you might have to bring 'em into the kitchen as a last resort, if you can't feed them in the living room. Avoid showing your guests all the details of meal preparation, if possible. They don't need to see kitchen scraps and dirty dishes. I have coloured the host-only area pink in the diagram below.

Let's return to the upstairs again, where some decisions have to be made by the host. As I have stated in earlier articles, it really is necessary that the host have a private bedroom-bathroom area. I would suggest that the host take bedroom 4 as a sitting room/home office, and use the master bedroom, with its private 3-piece bath. These are the pink areas below. Now the travel paths of guest and host intersect only on the stairs, which is pretty much unavoidable anyway. The host may want to keep bedroom 4 intact to handle family sleepovers, or guest overflow.

  • Now For the Renovation

This wouldn't be a complete analysis if it didn't involve a little renovation! I would start by joining bedroom 1 internally to its adjacent bathroom, and then sealing off the bathroom hallway door, and voila! a luxury suite is born. This is really a simple renovation; if there are pipes and wires in the way that will slow it down a bit, though. If you're handy with framing then give it a go. The only difficult issue with this house is the situation with bedrooms 2 and 3. They're both small, and unserviced. My suggestion would be to create a single suite out of the two rooms. Having done projects like this, I can tell you that the plumbing of the new bathroom might be a little tricky. The waste and supply lines would probably need to come down through the foyer ceiling; from there they could be routed to the basement or integrated with the existing kitchen plumbing, if code permits.  Redoing the hydro for the new suite might be possible with the existing wiring, especially if the rooms were serviced with separate circuits.

The next article in this series, How to Bed and Breakfast: Building Basics, will show a the author’s design and layout.