Do Cottages Have an Upstairs?

Due to the small and homely nature of cottages, it’s fair to wonder whether they actually have an upper storey. In this article, we’ll answer the question, do cottages have an upstairs?

Cottages do have an upstairs, although it’s typically much smaller than the ground floor.

Depending on the age of the cottage, the upper floor might be built into the roof in place of an attic. Newer cottages will often have an upstairs and an attic.

Let’s dig into this in a bit more detail to understand why a cottage’s upstairs is smaller.

cottage staircase small

The Upstairs of a Cottage

Cottages are typically regarded as two-storey buildings, whereas a bungalow would be a single-storey building. However, old cottages have very small upper floors because of the way they’re built.

Depending on how far back you want to go, a cottage could be made of anything from timber and wattle and daub to brick and stone.

Some of these materials simply don’t have the structural integrity to support expansive upper floors.

Also, in all but more recent cottages, it wasn’t uncommon for people to sleep downstairs. This is because there was no central heating, so people would often sleep in the main room or a smaller adjoining room where they could take advantage of the fireplace.

As such, the upstairs didn’t need to be particularly big. It would usually be for storage or for kids to sleep in!

However, later cottages have more expansive upper floors because changes in building materials and living conditions meant that buildings could simply be taller.

As people changed how they lived, there was a greater need for bedrooms upstairs, so the rooms got bigger.

Thanks to how we define cottages, they’ll always have an upstairs. In the UK, the only residential buildings that won’t have an upper floor are bungalows or, of course, flats.

That said, plenty of cottages still have fairly cramped upper floors. It’s not uncommon for them to still be in the eaves of the roof, meaning you might have to bend down if you’re tall!

You can see this if you visit an older cottage, as the upstairs ceiling will follow the shape of the roof.

Do Cottages Have an Upstairs?

Do Cottages Have Stairs?

Unsurprisingly, cottages do have stairs because they have an upper floor. After all, it would be pretty difficult to get to the bedrooms if your home didn’t have a staircase!

English cottage staircases are often quite small due to space constraints in the property. If your cottage only has a few rooms, it can be difficult to squeeze a proper staircase in.

Most will be angled to compensate for this, although it’s not uncommon for them to have been replaced with more modern setups.

cottage upstair

Cottage Staircase

Another way to get around the space problem is by making the cottage staircase really steep. Again, this is less common now, but was typically seen as the way to fit a full staircase into a very small area.

However, this did lead to some problems, such as getting furniture upstairs. One solution to this was a big hole in the ceiling, so items could be passed between floors.

This wasn’t their original purpose, though. These holes are called coffin drops, and were, unsurprisingly, used for transporting a coffin from the upstairs of a small cottage.

Many old cottages still have them hidden in the floors, so check your home for one! If you’d like to see them for yourself, the Rhyd-y-car Terrace at St. Fagan’s Museum in Wales has them on full display.

Can A Cottage Have Two Floors?

A cottage can have two floors. While cottages are traditionally thought of as small, single-story dwellings, they can also be designed with two floors or a loft to accommodate additional living space.

The term “cottage” is more about the style and aesthetic of the house rather than a strict limitation on size or number of floors.

Do Cottages Have upstairs? A Summary

Hopefully, you now know everything about cottages and their upper storeys. A cottage is essentially a small house, so it’ll always have an upstairs. Getting up the cottage stairs, though, can be a challenge.

Next time you visit a cottage that’s older than about a hundred years, keep an eye out for the coffin drop in the downstairs ceiling!