A remodeling trend that can change the way you live: Master Suites

I get a kick out of being an architect who specializes in remodeling because I like helping people change their lives. Most of our clients, each in his or her way, are seeking to improve life by remodeling their homes. These days many homeowners are changing and improving their lives by creating “master Suites”

The very words convey the importance of the space. The term “master” (a person with power to control) and “suite” (a series of connected rooms used together) connote a series of linked spaces for the exclusive use of the people who hold the power in the space. Who wouldn’t want to hang out in their own private suite?

Your master suite should contain a number of components; think them through and mix them with good design. You will have the ingredients for your master suite: Adequate space, Bedroom (optional sitting area, Private bath (as large as practical), closets (Walk-in preferred), and dressing area.

Reconfiguring to create adequate space
Your home may have sufficient space to create a master suite, but often it’s not immediately apparent. With creative design, it’s possible to reconfigure existing space, for example, taking over one or more closets, redoing a bathroom and, occasionally, incorporating an extra bedroom to form a master suite. If your design professional says that reconfiguring space doesn’t work, you may have to build an addition which could be more expensive than reconfiguring. Consult an architect before deciding which way to go because your neighborhood may have zoning restrictions that preclude an addition.

Planning your bedroom
Your bedroom is a personal space and its design should enhance your life in every way possible. When planning a bedroom think about function, aesthetic and emotional needs. Think of how the space design of the hall outside affects the design of the bedroom. Know the kind of furniture you want to accommodate: queen or king size bed, night stands, dressers or chests. Do you need work space for a hobby or desk? Can you replace some of the furniture with more efficient built-ins? Will you need a sitting area? Do you watch TV or read in bed? Does your home have southern light or a view that can serve as an amenity?

A dedicated bathroom
A dedicated bathroom, that is, one restricted to your personal use, is the most important ingredient for a master suite. A simple bathroom can be achieved in a 5’x 8’ space. If it’s dedicated to the suite, that can be enough. If your home has extra space, you can add the luxuries: separate shower stall, soaking tub, vanity with double sinks, bidet and even a separate compartment for a toilet.
Plan your lighting carefully because it’s essential in a bathroom. You will usually want overhead lighting and also lights that flank the mirror or walls sconces to reduce shadows. Be sure to install a separate light in the shower and another in the toilet area. It’s a good idea to have several light sources at a vanity. You should have natural light from a window or skylight somewhere in the bathroom; and you may prefer natural ventilation even with an exhaust fan.
Your bathroom's budget will be greatly influenced by the finishes you select. Flooring can be hip looking, economical ceramic tile, or you may prefer stone tile or even wood. Counter top materials have equally as great of range.

Closets should be adjacent to the bathroom for easy access. Their proximity will reduce the distance you have to walk and be less disturbing to your significant-others sleep. Walk-in closets are best if space allows room for them and should be at least 6’ wide to accommodate clothes hanging on both sides. If your space won’t accommodate a walk in closet, use long closets with large doors that provide easy access. Double rods and shelves will maximize storage. I recommend using a closet specialist to maximize the space.

Mirrored Dressing area
A dressing area can be small or large, but should be adjacent to the closets. Built in chests are an efficient way to store clothes and often times we design niches for dressers. IF space allows, a small chair or bench is preferred. Plan for mirrors, full length or wall hung in the dressing area.

Setting a realistic budget
If you want a master suite you need to set a realistic budget. Each house and homeowner has different requirements, but a realistic range is $100,000 - $200,000 depending upon what’s to be done. The bathroom will probably be the most expensive piece of you new master suite. But most of the cost of an addition bathroom can be recovered upon the sale of your house.
Most often the people who create a master suite are couples who see it as a way to enhance their home and in turn their relationship. A fast paced work day life brings out a corresponding desire for a private, secluded place after work. A master suite can become such a safe haven. It can be a bit glamorous, a bit sexy and above all restful. These are the essentials.

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