News, Updates and Inspiration

Third Floor Living: Ask The Experts

The Question:  "What Do You Like About Attic Spaces"


Bruce Borden Walden Homes

"I love third floors. Cathy and I have a third floor in our home. When our kids are home from university or we have out of town guests, the two bedrooms and bathroom up on the top floor come in really handy. Our third storey is contained within the roof structure of our house. From the exterior it would be hard to know that we have all this additional square footage.

Needless to say, I am definitely for third floors, provided that the overall roof height does not become exceedingly tall relative to the neighbouring homes. Third floors have to make sense within the overall design and architecture of the home. Adding another level to the top of a house can look really top heavy and detract from the balance and symmetry. Working with a design professional to get the details right is highly recommend." 

Cary Linden, B.Arch. OneDesignBuild

"Many of my clients have insisted on having a three-storey house instead of a two-storey house.

Often the third storey becomes the master suite exclusively. It offers privacy and a great opportunity for a terrace.

Having the master suite on the third floor allows for four bedrooms and a laundry room on second floor. This is the model that I endorse. Occasionally, the third floor is used as a home office or even a gym.

When I built my house, I originally designed it to have three stories with the third floor reserved for the master suite. Due to budget constraints I ended up with a two-storey house, but because I had such a generous zoning height (11m) and I wanted make use of this, I opted for very high ceilings. Turns out that two floors of very high ceilings (14 feet on main and 11 feet on the second) cost the same as three floors with moderate ceiling heights (9 feet).

I like houses that have a variety of ceiling heights. If you had a three-storey house you could cut back the second floor at the back so you could have a double height family room and kitchen similar to a lot of 'loft' condo designs.

If you want a three-storey house I would definitely recommend installing an elevator.

Just remember to check the zoning on your property first to ensure you are allowed three stories and that you have enough allowable height to achieve three stories with reasonable ceiling heights." 

Cindy van Ryn, Interior Designer Snap Design + Contracting

"I would evaluate a third floor addition on a property considering the following conditions: the neighbourhood, managing the stairs, the view, and the family dynamics.

When considering a third floor you would have to take into consideration the neighbourhood and surrounding homes as you wouldn't want to stand out or tower above all the rest. Tasteful harmony with the neighbours is always the best.

I would also consider the individuals in the home and their capability or desire to manage the stairs on a daily basis. This would not only determine whether or not to add a third floor, but also how to use the space.

On the flip side a third floor can sometimes provide a spectacular view from the higher level; whether its viewing the tree tops or the pulse of the downtown core, it can provide a whole new dimension in a home. If this is the case I would recommend it for a master bedroom and a lovely addition would be a deck to the outside, on top of a second floor roof for example. This can also create a private space both inside, as usually the third floor windows do not look into neighbours windows, as well as outside since a deck can be a very private outdoor space.

Another consideration when thinking of a third floor is a family with many children. It can create a great place for children to have their own space, be it a bedroom or a playroom, and can contain the noise from the rest of the house.

All these considerations become important elements when planning a third floor; it might go against the grain of the existing neighbourhood and cause difficulty in everyday function, or it could be a wonderful addition to a home and provide a private space with a beautiful vista."


Judy Sanz Solé, Architect Sanz Solé Architect