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Renovation Solutions: Understanding the master bedroom madness

Published: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 5:11 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 5:11 p.m. MDT

Adding sitting areas to a master suite is a great way to create a personal retreat.

Annie Schwemmer, Renovation Design Group

Home design is where art meets science, function meets beauty and a house becomes home. While the average homeowner can recognize a room that looks and feels good in real life, they can rarely feel what the architect has designed on paper. However, there is a method to the madness.

Part of the method of design is to understand how the homeowner will use a room. Take the master bedroom for example. Determining the size and elements of this room depends on how it will be used and how the residents will live in the space.

Do you need a big bedroom?

Big, spacious master bedrooms are good for people who plan to use their bedroom as a private getaway. When you have or create a large master bedroom, it is important to not waste the extra space. Create a mini living room with a seating area and a TV and/or fireplace. If relaxation is not your main goal, you can use the space to express your creativity with activities such as crafts, painting or practicing an instrument. The key is to individualize the space to offer a place to wind down after a long day. Large bedrooms such as these pair well with a bathroom and a closet to create the luxurious master suite. A typical master suite requires about 400 to 800 square feet and will cost about $150 per square foot for a remodel and about $220 per square foot for an addition.

The downside to a large master suite is the potential for clutter buildup. Make sure you stay organized by having a place to keep everything. A disorganized master suite will never qualify as a personal retreat.

Do you need a small bedroom?

Even though we design plenty of beautiful, spacious master suites, we still stand by our motto: Bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes a small bedroom can be more restful and relaxing than a large master suite. The master suite can seem frivolous and wasteful to someone who doesn’t plan to do anything but sleep there. A bedroom designed as a cozy sleeping nook really only needs space for a bed and a nightstand. A small but well-designed, bedroom can actually turn out to be more restful than a bigger bedroom — and will stay cleaner.

Another plus to creating a smaller bedroom is that the square footage could be used in a different part of the house. If the bedroom isn’t your priority, then you could create a design that steals a few feet from the bedroom to make a bigger living room.

Indoor/outdoor connections

Connecting the bedroom to the outside space is another trick to turning it into a more relaxing retreat. Adding sliding or French doors that open up to a backyard garden or private patio for two will instantly make the bedroom more romantic and relaxing. The bedroom walkout will open up the room with added natural light and create a beautiful environment. Of course, it will require equal work in the yard as in the interior of the house if you expect the two areas to enhance each other.

Closets

We typically think of a walk‐in closet when we picture a master suite. This type of extended closet space only became popular about 25 years ago, and is almost exclusively an American concept. Such closets are sometimes the size of a bedroom, and high‐end homes can conceivably have one for him and her.

If you do not have such abundant square footage, with the help of good planning and closet organizing systems, a reach‐in closet can be very serviceable — even in a master suite. The key is having the doors almost as wide as the closet itself. Being able to swing the doors wide open and to see and reach all the contents easily will make using this type of closet almost as convenient as the walk‐in version. Older closets often have a narrow door that leaves the sides of the closet dark and hard to access. Likewise, sliding closet doors restrict the view of the entire closet and may require too much shuffling back and forth.

If you do have a walk‐in closet layout, there is always a debate of whether it is preferable to walk through the closet to reach the bathroom or vice versa. This decision may boil down to personal preference and/or the most convenient plumbing layout.

Ultimately, your bedroom (and on a grander scale your house) should work for you and make it easier for you to live the life you want to live. Your house should accommodate you. Creating a beautiful, functional space that works in your life is the reason behind residential architecture — the method to the madness of remodeling and one reason why we love our jobs.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com

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