Master Suites

by Matt Cosentino | Sep 14, 2014
Master Suites …From the pages of House & Home…

Transforming your bedroom into a hotel-like retreat

After a particularly stressful day at work—and let’s face it, sometimes they all seem that way—it’s nice to come home, spend time with the kids and then retreat into the most relaxing space of the house after they’re down for the night. More and more these days, that space is the master bedroom, no longer reserved for just sleeping or getting ready in the morning.

Whether it’s new construction or remodeling an older home, homeowners are putting a lot of thought into the master bedroom. The trends include everything from large sitting areas—complete with sofa, television or even a bar—to spa-like master bathrooms featuring multiple showerheads and heated floors. Walk-in closets are also a must-have, but some people are even taking the next step and creating their own dressing room.

No matter what amenities you decide on for the master bedroom, it’s important to keep your personality throughout the room. And even if you think your options are limited because of space, having an experienced designer guiding you through the process can work wonders.

“You have to get creative and use the space wisely,” says David Soriano, president and founder of Bryan Construction in Doylestown, Pa. “Design is everything on this. I really enjoy that part, just coming up with a plan that meets all of their needs and really blows them away, so it’s more than they ever thought it could be.”

Soriano estimates that master bedroom remodels are about 25 percent of his business. “It’s a very large chunk right now,” he says. We spoke to Soriano and some other experts about important tips for turning the master bedroom into your own personal retreat.

Take a vacation at home
One of the great things about a vacation is staying in a luxurious room at a resort or upscale hotel. Many homeowners are now looking to recreate that feeling at home, says Bobby Huber of Oskar Huber Furniture and Design in Southampton, Pa. That was the idea behind his company’s recent master bedroom design for a design house in Bucks County, which drew more than 8,000 visitors.

“The whole approach we took is that we wanted it to be an escape from reality; we wanted to create that experience of staying in a really nice boutique hotel, but you can come home to it every day,” Huber says. “The reality in today’s world is that we all have stress and you need that place to escape and relax, somewhere you can be by yourself or with your partner. We have definitely seen people updating their master bedrooms and putting in different and fun things, while always keeping a sophisticated and calm feeling throughout the room.”

“People want that stay-at-home vacation; they want the spa feel and they want to be pampered,” agrees Diane Granda, a designer at Zakson’s Fine Furniture and Interior Design in Brick, N.J. “That’s how a lot of people live. They travel for their jobs, so they’re used to that [boutique hotel feel]. So when it comes to their home, they figure, ‘Why can’t I have it here?’”

More often than not, that setting includes a sitting area away from the bed. These can range from simple spaces with one or two chairs and an ottoman, to large, separate rooms with a couch, television and even surround sound.

“You can have that perfect chair to cuddle up in and read the morning paper with a cup of coffee, or you can have that full-blown sitting area with a sofa and a chair and a TV,” Huber says. “It really depends on the customer. If you have the space, having that full sitting room is really nice, and a lot of people have embellished in that area more than they previously would have.”

Granda notes that Zakson’s often has requests for one particular out-of-the-ordinary feature in their designs. “We’re doing a lot more fireplaces in master bedrooms,” she says, “and they’ll do the sitting area right in front of the fireplace.” Huber adds that, just like in a fancy hotel, many customers don’t feel a sitting area is complete without a bar. “We put a bar in the design house and people loved it,” he says. “It was a very upscale, sophisticated-looking bar, and it was just something different that’s not normally seen in a master bedroom. The bar can also double as a TV armoire.”

A spa you can visit every day
Much like the bedroom, the hotel feel is also very popular in the master bath. People often prefer a spacious, spa-like atmosphere, but even if room is limited, there are ways to incorporate modern amenities.

“We’re redesigning the space to accommodate what’s important to them,” Soriano says. “What we tear out most often are tiled, platform tubs. They eat up huge amounts of space and they’re just dust-collectors. Now we’re installing a lot of clawfoot tubs or pedestal tubs, which take up a lot less room, and in some cases it enables us to expand their shower, which is what they use most.”

There are several exciting details that can be added to the shower to make you feel like you’re at a spa instead of your own bathroom, including steam features, multiple showerheads and even benches. Marble and natural stone are often desired materials. “There is a trend right now toward large spa showers—not unlike a touchless car wash—featuring rain showers, body sprays and music as part of the shower,” says Dave Dilworth, director of sales and design at Dilworth’s Custom Design in Phoenixville, Pa. “If space allows, freestanding soaking tubs are also in demand. These amenities make for a very luxurious feel.”

To maximize space, cabinetry on top of the vanity is useful to store linens, hair dryers or shaving equipment, Soriano adds. And one of the most popular requests to continue the spa setting is for heated floors. “We do a lot of radiant floors,” he says. “In fact, for one that we’re doing right now, we’re putting in electric heat mats underneath their tile. That goes right into the shower, too, so their shower floor is warm, instead of walking into a cold shower during the winter. You don’t have to wait five minutes for it to warm up and waste water.”

Preparing for your day
Walk-in closets have long been a staple for master bedrooms, but the latest idea is to expand that space. It turns out dressing rooms aren’t just for movie stars these days. “There’s been a big shift,” Granda says. “The closet is not just a place to hang your clothes anymore. People are using it for more than that.”

That includes as an area to get dressed in the morning—perhaps so you don’t wake your still-sleeping partner—as well as just a quiet place to think about the day ahead. “People want to have a dressing room area where they can go through their briefcase and organize their day, maybe open their computer and check email,” Granda says. “This is all before they ever leave this suite area. People don’t have the formal living rooms anymore, so we’re really reinventing how we use the home. So when they go to their suite, they want this quiet room that the living room used to be, but it’s in their own space.”

Some people might think they don’t have room in their master for such a luxury, but there are creative ways to get around that—especially if they have older children ready to move out of the house. “One of the last projects we did, we actually added a dormer to the front of the house to expand their existing walk-in closet and make it into a really big dressing room,” Soriano says. “Another project we did entailed taking a bedroom that was adjacent to the master, creating an opening and making that room into a dressing room. It had lift-up lid benches to sit on, an island, wrap-around closets and shelf units. We also did a 6-foot by 10-foot balcony cantilevered out, so there are no posts underneath it, and it has sliding doors leading to the master bedroom. It’s got a coffeemaker up there, a refrigerator. The homeowners hang out up there in the evenings.

“The older child had moved out and the bedroom was there, so we took their ideas and made it happen for them. That was a really nice project.”

Finishing touches
To complete the “hotel suite” in your own master bedroom, it’s important to add other aspects that stand out, such as artwork, Huber explains. “The accessorization of a master bedroom, or any room, is like the jewelry for the outfit,” he says. “A woman puts on the perfect dress with the pumps, and then she puts on all of her jewelry to really pull the outfit together. That’s what the lighting, the artwork, the mirrors and the rugs do for the room.”

“There are many different layers that you have to put on to make the room look lived in and comfortable,” Granda adds. “The artwork really pulls the room together, along with the rug or the lamps. A lot of homes are doing wood floors, so we’re selling a lot more area rugs to soften up the room and give them some comfort when they kick off their shoes.”

Both Granda and Huber say that soothing colors are almost always the way to go for a master bedroom, and when it comes to lighting, chandeliers over the bed are becoming quite popular. “A lot of people don’t like them because they want a ceiling fan, but having a chandelier over the bed really does change the feel and look of the room and really adds more of the customer’s personality to that room,” Huber says.

Artwork should also reflect the owner’s personality, and when the right pieces are selected, it brings the entire room together. “I think the artwork is the final touch,” Huber says. “It ties everything together in the room. Having the family picture in conjunction with the artwork that’s selected—whether it’s black and white or musical or landscapes—helps mold the furniture with the personality of the person and makes for that ever-peaceful room.”


Bryan Construction
Doylestown, Pa.
(215) 345-6499

Dilworth’s Custom Design
Phoenixville, Pa.
(610) 917-9119

Oskar Huber Furniture and Design
Southampton, Pa.
(215) 355-4800

Zakson’s Fine Furniture and Interior Design
Brick, N.J.
(732) 477-8400

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 2 (August, 2014).
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Author: Matt Cosentino


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