The term ‘maisonette’ refers to an apartment on two or more storeys of a larger building with its own internal staircase. It is derived from the French ‘maisonnette’, meaning 'a little house'.
In the UK, maisonettes have their own separate entrance, distinguishing them from flats, which are reached through a common entrance. They are often found above shops, with an entrance to the side of the shopfront. Historically, maisonettes have been considered more desirable than flats.
Maisonettes are sometimes now referred to as 'duplexes', a term that has become increasingly popular due to its perceived Americanism. Generally, ‘maisonette’ is still used to describe more traditional apartments, whereas ‘duplex’ is applied to apartments with a more modern design.
In Europe, the term maisonette can be used to describe holiday cottages, or flats.
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