Bedrooms are a Private Oasis

Great rooms are, well, great for a lot of things. Great for entertaining. Great for overseeing homework while preparing dinner. Great for our busier but less formal lifestyles. But they aren’t great for everything. And one of those things is privacy. Even though we like the togetherness that great rooms afford, we still need a little time away from the hullabaloo to read, rest and recharge.

Thank Goodness For Bedrooms.

Once used primarily for sleeping and storage, bedrooms have evolved into living spaces of their own. Only instead of rooms designed for a crowd, today’s bedrooms are planned with just one or two people in mind. They are personalized spaces that are generally not intended for the masses.

While bedrooms are highly personal, there are some trends to note. Bella Domicile lead designer Dondi Szombatfalvy says many master bedrooms now incorporate sitting or reading areas, audiovisual equipment or computer desks. “They’re a place we’re spending more time in,” she says.

It’s almost a shame to call them bedrooms. Today’s bedrooms are more akin to personalized retreats or private oases.

Part of the transformation is due to the popularity of detailed closet systems that organize and store personal belongings more efficiently than ever before. Homeowners are dedicating more space to built-in storage, and the highly personalized systems offer efficiency and ease that dressers and armoires just can’t match.

Jeff Grundahl, owner of full-service construction and remodeling company JG Development, says the beauty of built-in storage is no secret. That is why master suites are close to the top of many wish lists, and some empty nesters are even converting fourth bedrooms into master bath or closet space once the kids leave home.

In addition to adding space and improving functionality, master closets offer another advantage. Freed of many of its storage obligations, the master bedroom itself can now accommodate other furnishings and uses, says Amanda Funk, an interior designer with JG Development. The rooms themselves aren’t really getting smaller, despite the greater storage efficiency. Instead, homeowners are repurposing some of the space previously dedicated to heavy furniture.

Funk says homeowners like the breathing room they’ve discovered by eliminating a second dresser or chest of drawers. The space might now be used for reading nooks or small workstations, and later it can be converted into something else when new tastes and trends emerge. “Most homeowners are wanting to create a space that is flexible if they need more storage to add an armoire in the future,” Funk says. “Efficient use of space is great, but future use is also something that homeowners have on the forefront of their minds.”

Even with adequate storage in closets, the bed isn’t the only piece of furniture left in the room. Nightstands are still critical for holding lamps, books, iPads and other electronics at lights-out, says Kelly Hofmeister, manager of Woodworks, a west-side furniture retailer. Dressers, too, are still around. While they might not be as critical for storing sweaters and undergarments, they still have a purpose “More often than not, they are a surface on which to place your big-screen TV,” Hofmeister notes.

Furniture manufacturers have noticed the changes, says Century House manager Jacob Harlow, and have already modified designs to accommodate new demands. “Certainly there is a decreased need for lots of case pieces,” Harlow says. “However, this has led to an increase in decorative and functional dressers. One big trend is in ‘media’ dressers, which incorporate audiovisual equipment along with the standard clothing storage.”

Children’s rooms are evolving, too. Fewer kids have to share bedrooms now than in years past due to smaller family sizes and larger homes. So twin and bunk beds, while still around, are a bit less popular than they once were. Hofmeister says some families are skipping twin beds altogether and are instead moving straight from cribs to queen-sized mattresses. Harlow says twin and bunk beds still sell well, though, as do loft systems that incorporate desks and also  allow for more usable space in a child’s room.

Szombatfalvy advises homeowners to consider personalized storage for children’s rooms in addition to master suites. Personalized closet systems can eliminate clutter and improve efficiency for kids as well. That means no more searching for a gym bag before basketball or hunting for an iPod charger. Storage systems or other built-ins can be designed around, for example, hockey gear, making it easier to keep skates and sticks off the floor. Built-in shelving can store personal libraries, trophies, pictures and other personal items. “The whole space can be designed for their lives, for what they’re doing and what they need to store,” she says.

Another bonus of good storage: Many homeowners discover that they don’t need more storage space once they have better storage space, and organizational systems are generally more affordable than additions or even substantial space reconfigurations in an existing house. But ultimately, Szombatfalvy says, storage is the key to making a bedroom comfortable and relaxing. “The more clutter you have in your life, the more frustration you have,” she adds.

And the goal, Harlow points out, is to create a comfortable space conducive to sleep. He takes it a step further and urges homeowners to make selections that not only meet their basic needs but also make them happy. “If you love a space, then a good night’s sleep is easier to come by,” he says, and “that is what it’s all about.”

-Jennifer Garrett

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