The Master Bedroom

Often, when clients have a busy family life revolving around the diverse activities of their young children, we take a step-by-step approach to decorating and design.

One of the foremost questions is always, "Where do we start?" Typically I recommend starting in the room where the family spends the most time – usually the kitchen or the family room. Then we will move into the foyer, dining, living, children’s and basement recreation rooms. Masterbedrooms are often the stepchildren of this kind of decorating process and end up last on the list. Hmmmm, although I have to respect the wishes of my clients, there are reasons why I think the masterbedroom deserves higher status in the list of priorities.

Feng Shui and the Bed

The art of Feng Shui identifies the three central "power spots" of a home as being the stove, the desk, and the bed and, of these three, we spend the most time in the bed! If a couple is sleeping in the bed, then it becomes twice as important to attend to the bed and to the masterbedroom. Ideally, the bed is placed so that it has the most expansive view of the entire room and a clear view of the entrance to the bedroom. One should feel secure in the space.

Windows behind the bed are not recommended and the door should not directly face the bed – neither the side or the foot. The flow of energy from the door can disturb sleep. Also beware of beams or changes in ceiling height that run above the bed – these can cause distinctly difficult energy patterns; beams running the length of the bed may cause a feeling of division between the partners and beams running across the legs may result in feeling constricted especially as related to traveling.

Bedroom turn-offs

The masterbedroom should be designed for peace and pleasure – a place to indulge in sleeping, lovemaking, lounging and reading. When there are small children about it’s even more important that the masterbedroom serve as a private sanctuary for the parents (at least occasionally!).

I’ve seen many a master suite that is still sporting furniture from undergraduate days, accessorized with piles of unsorted laundry and towering (make that teetering) stacks of bedside reading. Sometimes the bedroom is home to a stair machine or a treadmill; aside from being ugly, who wants to sweat and grunt in the one place that deserves to be a tranquil refuge. And frankly, I think the worst offense is to have an office in the bedroom – piles of bills and paperwork are not conducive to restful sleep. Before you invest in the fancy new mattress to get a better night’s sleep try de-cluttering the bedroom!

In one small city apartment where the office-in-bedroom was unavoidable, I "implied" that the bed was actually in a separate space by building another level: the bed was placed on a carpeted platform near the window while the office remained on the original floor. Not ideal but much better; the view and the extra height helped redefine the space.

I have to confess I’m not even a big fan of having a TV in the bedroom, although if you find it relaxing and it helps you drift off to sleep, I can’t argue with that.

Romance and sensuality

The feminine touch is definitely welcome in the masterbedroom. Happy is the man who encourages his wife to decorate the master suite to her taste – flowers, lush pillows, soft rugs underfoot. Although they may put up a show of protest, most men love to enter a feminine bower and completely enjoy being surrounded by soft furnishings, scented candles, and draping fabric and perhaps most importantly – a happy woman.

Is your bedroom conducive to romance? Is it too hot or too cold? Does it look inviting?

Think about what you first see upon waking and what you see last upon retiring. Is it a cherished photo or piece of artwork or a lovely view? Be aware of how you respond to what’s in your line of vision as you enter a new day. Looking at something that inspires you is much more likely to get you out of bed in a happy frame of mind than looking at a pile of unsorted laundry or a makeshift table you’ve been meaning to replace for years.

Closets and Bathroom

The point here is to make the daily rituals of life enjoyable. Before I invested in closet organizers, I only wore a few of my outfits – the ones I could actually lay my hands on. But years ago I decided to re-organize my closets and keep them organized. Now getting dressed is fun and I actually get a chance to wear all my clothes. Since I like to see everything I realized that jewelry boxes were not for me so, my solution was to hang my jewelry inside the closet door. It’s all laid out for me and it’s like choosing colors from an artist’s palette.

The same in the bathroom, whatever the morning routine; you want to have the counters as free of clutter as possible and the accoutrements readily accessible. If storage is inadequate, don’t pile stuff on the counters; put it in baskets or other containers that can be moved for easy cleaning up. Keep everything fresh; don’t hang on to old make-up or ancient bottles of cologne or moisturizer that has dried out or band-aids that have turned brittle. Toss them.

Unlike the bedroom, too much fabric or fussiness will make the bathroom seem unhygienic. Best to keep it clean and simple and to soften the hard surfaces with a well-chosen houseplant.

Don’t skimp on the towels. Like great sleeping pillows, great towels are one of life’s little luxuries, so splurge on the plushest, softest (perhaps organically grown) cotton towels you can find. It will make you feel wonderful!

In Conclusion

Just because you don’t invite people into your bedroom don’t think that it’s not important. You yourself are spending one third of your life in there. It’s hard to know how much impact your surroundings are having upon you until you change them. You may be surprised.

Barbara Sternau is an Interior Designer with offices at 37 Main St., Tarrytown, NY bsternau@optonline.net

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About the Author: Barbara Sternau