Master Bedrooms and Suites

Regardless of the size of the master bedroom or suite, many homeowners want more than just a place to sleep at night. In fact, master suite construction, remodel or redesign is increasingly about creating a customized private retreat—a place to go and unwind after a long day, or to share quiet moments over coffee or drinks.

“People are looking to get more out of their master suite than just a place to lay their heads down to sleep,” says Connie Mann, senior designer at Dream House. “Bedrooms are often incorporating sitting areas, built-in audio systems or televisions. Whatever it is that makes that space become an oasis for the individual.”

In seeking to create that retreat feel, clients are trending toward bigger features—larger closets with custom built-ins and storage, expansive bathrooms with beautiful, custom walk-in showers. They’re also utilizing custom built-in bedroom furniture, including night stands, platforms, and headboards that tie the room, bathroom and even the closet together with one design thread. Vaulted ceilings, skylights, and larger windows help bring the outside in, and fireplaces in master suites—“no pun intended,” warns Mann—are becoming a hot new trend.

“Not only that,” she adds, “they’re looking to get a great aesthetic out of the space as a whole, and to create a great flow between the rooms.”

The biggest misconception Mann runs into is the idea that homeowners are stuck where they are, that master bedrooms or suites can’t be remodeled.

“They don’t think there is a solution for their needs,” says Mann. “The truth is that it’s a matter of finding the right professional to come in and redesign the space, and we have the ability to do just that.”

Mann helps clients make a start by working with them to visualize the proposed project ahead of time, including different color options, styles, angles and layouts. This gives a realistic snapshot of the completed project.

“People are aesthetic,” says Mann. “It’s important that they have the opportunity to see, feel and touch the products that they’re selecting for their projects.”

Staycation

Travis Ganser of Ganser Company says many of his master bedroom projects this year involved creating a “staycation” vibe for homeowners, at their request.

“They were taking their master bedroom and bath and then focusing on making that a separate, stand-alone, ‘destination’ part of the house, rather than just the biggest bedroom in the home,” says Ganser.

Particularly for the “empty nesting” age range of clientele, Ganser saw many couples turning now-spare bedrooms into extensions of the master bedroom, creating expansive bathrooms or walk-in his-and-her closets. They upgraded bathrooms, too, moving toward larger tiled walk-ins with double-head shower systems. Still popular are luxuries like heated tile floors and heated towel racks, or special cabinetry around the bathroom sinks that allow homeowners to keep hairdryers, curling irons and other electronic tools plugged in, but stowed out of sight. Additional private spaces aimed at relaxation are created with reading and coffee nooks, fireplaces, and televisions—including in the bathrooms, sometimes over the tub, in view of the commode, or on the vanity.

Aesthetically, clients are leaning toward mixing industrial-type heavyweights such as stone and recycled woods, and softening them with lighter touches of glass and crystal. Think boutique hotels, such as The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee.

“It’s a mix of industrial and really light, contemporary artwork and light fixtures and things,” says Ganser. “We have a lot of people really excited about that look, sort of mixing the old and new together.”

It all depends on the individual needs of the homeowner, but the sentiment is the same: creating a little hideaway to help bring balance to busy worlds.

“We can’t always actually get away from our day-to-day lives,” says Ganser. “So the master bedroom or suite becomes a little getaway.”

Bathroom oasis

Naturally, the most prized and celebrated feature of a master bedroom or suite is often the master bathroom. This is where homeowners can truly relax and unwind in comfort, privacy and luxurious style. Over the past four or five years, the trend in master bathrooms was moving away from whirlpool tubs and turning more toward oversized walk-in tiled showers with features such as dual showerheads. Now things are changing yet again, this time to incorporate both showering and bathing—but now it’s soaking tubs, rather than jet tubs.

“Showers are still important; I think we’re a showering society in America,” says Connie Holl, store manager at Gerhards, the Kitchen & Bath Store. “But bathing—and specifically, soaking—is starting to reemerge again. It’s about relaxation, really creating an oasis in your master bath.”

Freestanding soaking tubs are deeper, and stand alone in the bathroom. Kohler unveiled two new acrylic freestanding models this year, the Stargaze and the Sunstruck, that Holl says are especially exciting because they exemplify this trend at affordable prices.

“Instead of doing just the six-foot shower, now maybe we’re doing a five-foot shower and getting a little more space to install perhaps a five-and-a-half-foot soaking, freestanding tub,” says Holl. “The new Kohler products are really exciting and our customers are really responding well; it really fits their budget nicely.”

If you’re uncertain where to start, Holl suggests writing down a priority list. It’s easy to get swept up in the beautiful aesthetics and exciting features, but you don’t want to end up with a space that doesn’t suit the realities of your life.

“Write down what you really, really want, what you kind-of want, and what you don’t care about whether you have or not. Don’t worry about what anybody else thinks—base it on how you live and function in the space, and how you want to feel when you’re in it,” says Holl. “We’ll take it from there. Our store is full of designers and we love playing in other people’s houses. If you give us enough of a sense of who you are and how you want to use your space, we can bring that vision to life for you.”

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