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Renovation Design Grouprenovation Design Group
The master suite often adds touches of luxury with items such as built-in closet organizers, above, and a garden tub.

One of the most frequent items seen on our clients' wish lists is a master suite. Master suites are a relatively recent trend in home design, so most older homes do not have them.

And in our experience, the master suite often becomes the crown jewel of the renovation.

This happens because people love their master suites. One of our clients, Donna Bates, will tell you what her life was like before she got a master suite:

"We just had this little bedroom that was the same as all the other little bedrooms in the house, and we had to share a bathroom with the kids," she says. With her eight kids, we should point out.

But now that Bates has a master suite, she calls it her "little sanctuary." For the Bateses, like most of our clients, the master suite becomes a sanity space that is off limits to the rest of the family, an inner sanctum where adults can relax.

There are two ways to get a master suite: Rearrange or add on. If you have an extra bedroom in the vicinity of your master bedroom, this space can be transformed into the master bath and closet. Or you can add a master suite to the first floor by expanding into the yard, if your yard can accommodate such an addition. Alternately, you can consider adding a second story, which will mean a major renovation to your roof and giving up space on the main floor to add a staircase.

A typical master suite consists of three functions: A bedroom large enough to fit a king-size bed, a couple of pieces of furniture, and possibly a sitting area; a bathroom with a separate shower and tub, two sinks and a toilet (often within its own room); and a master closet, which is typically a walk-in closet with built-in organizers.

All this will require 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 cost per square foot tends to be higher than in other parts of the house (except the kitchen) because a master suite often includes more luxurious fixtures and finishes — from a jetted tub and granite-lined steam shower to a private fireplace to cedar or mahogany closet organizers.

On the other hand, a master suite helps resale value, and you may eventually get much of that money back.

Of course you don't have to go all out with your master suite if your budget won't allow, but you will want to add at least a few touches of luxury so the master suite truly becomes your inner sanctum. Giving yourself a space all your own is truly a "suite" deal!

Architects Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon are founding principals of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local architectural firm specializing in residential remodeling design.