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Where Are They Now?: Re-Mastered Suite

April 21, 2011

“Homes within homes” need not apply for a place in today’s reality based home. Bedrooms are now rooms for beds. Tubs that once could accommodate several adults are vanishing in favor of fully optioned showers.

Where homeowners sleep has undergone a consciousness raising where scale and detailing are keys to creating a very personal space as opposed to a bragging right showplace for the benefit of the rare visitor or the unknown potential buyer.  This is the one room in the house where the space, craft, and accoutrement should help you get back in touch with yourself.

For some this means a place of repose to read, for others it could mean a soaking tub that is not primarily about cleanliness.  It could mean lighting that makes a mirror a thing that you don’t fear.  But mostly it means a place that isn’t frustrating.

Master Suites used to have the same “wow factor” imperative as Great Rooms.  Master Bedroom renovations that people want today have more to do with functionality, like making closets that work or creating hampers or even bringing a small laundry into the Master Suite.

Now master bathrooms are designed to contour to the way couples use them.  More couples than ever have different wake up and sleeping times and therefore the bathroom often needs to have a second way to get out once the early riser has to leave without awaking the slumbering spouse.  More bathrooms have swapped the unused pool-sized tub for one large, very multi-tasked shower with a seat, complete with multiple sprays, wands, etc.  If there is a tub, it is trending towards a soaking tub rather than a candle surrounded Poconos Motel aquatic altar of love.

The toilet in a Master Suite is exquisitely personal because it is used by one or two people – not by everyone who comes into your house or by growing children.  So a toilet with a view, library, its own room, a telephone, TV, etc. all become part of the personal choices of people who want to make their Master Suite a place for them away from the pull of career, family and the rest of our culture’s demands.

The fundamental purpose of a Master Suite is a place to allow for sleep and that means a bed.  In over 30 years of being an architect I have never designed a Master Suite around separate beds.  I have had many couples that have a designated guest bedroom to allow a spouse to leave because of snoring (or perhaps for reasons that are best left to the couples themselves to work out).  Perhaps for similar reasons the size of the bed has grown over the years so that a queen is “normal”, a California King (seven feet by seven feet!) is not unusual.

Like every other element of a home’s interior, master bedrooms are increasingly linked to the outside world.  Larger windows, a walk-out porch, or a first floor location are becoming more common.  The Master Suite ultimately should have the bed as the core.  Sleeping takes the vast majority of time spent in our homes, not the kitchen, not the closet, not the sitting area.  Increasingly the Master Bedroom is a room for a bed, not a very large room with a bed in it that also accommodates a place to work out, sit, or learn dance steps.

This “house within a house” has morphed into the most personal place within a house.  Therefore all the finer points of design and precise dimensions become exquisitely important.

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