Every opportunity to create a master bedroom starts a wonderful adventure of imagination. While the living, dining and family rooms are designed to cater to the needs of many, the master suite is destined to be a restful retreat à deux. Creating the perfect blend requires the following: one part calm to soothe the stresses of the day; one part crisp to awaken and refresh each morning; and one part tactile for sensory appeal.
I like a room that seems bright and airy during daylight hours but can transition into a moody, sultry space when twilight falls. When tasked with carving a sybaritic oasis out of a rather bland and not too grand box, I had to pull out all the decor stops.
The good news is that in the overall scheme of a top-to-bottom gut job, I often find you can save on the reno and spend on the deco in the master bedroom.
This particular master was not blessed with copious amounts of space, nor did it feature any "wow" architectural details (unless you count a ceiling that slopes from about 10 feet down to less than seven as any sort of building coup), and it didn’t have the high style accompaniment of an ensuite bathroom. All it had was one average sized window, a wall of closets, four walls in shabby condition and a door … clearly my inspiration for this room was not to be drawn from any existing features!
I absolutely loathe the basic builder version of sliding mirrored closet doors. Besides aesthetic objections, the downside of the slider is that you can only access one side of the closet at a time. I’m the kind of woman who likes to stand in front of my closet with doors wide open and see all that lies inside. Getting out the door in record time with two small kids while projecting some measure of style is a daily trial in and of itself, so I need all the help I can get (add to it that you, the viewing public get to witness the ultimate success or failure of these time trial challenges on TV and you can imagine how invested I am in having a properly functioning closet).
After removing three sets of late ’50s mahogany sliders I noticed that the closets weren’t quite deep enough to contain clothes on hangers so I had to demo the entire wall and build it out a few inches. To make sure your clothes don’t get crumpled and your doors close easily, make sure you have at least 24 inches clear from front to back inside the closet.
My new closet concept featured three pairs of equal-width doors with the central pair cresting about six inches higher than the sides to accentuate the rising ceiling. In my update of the entire house I decided to replace all the doors and trim throughout and selected a simple, shaker panel door for all the closets and room doors. I find the wide frame on a shaker door works well in contemporary spaces and adds a bit more detail than the other go-to option, which is a plain slab.
When it comes to closets, the shaker offers another great solution — by adding mirror panels that were cut to fit the recessed panel of the door I was able to visually enlarge the feel of the room while solving the dilemma of where to put a full length mirror in a small room. The automatic reaction might have been to mirror all six doors, but I found the effect of highlighting just the central pair to be much more interesting.
Give a nod to bygone days
From the start, I was hesitant to embrace too much of a ’60s vibe when selecting materials and design directions for my "of an era" back split bungalow. I didn’t want it to appear as though I was executing a throwback to days gone by (and a period I never experienced the first time round), but I couldn’t escape the easy, cheery mood the house exuded. It just seemed suited to bold, overscaled patterns and a less serious approach to design. Every room seemed to want to have a sense of fun and a healthy play of texture and pattern.
When I found a thick cotton with a large-scale floral print in muted shades of grey and cream I simply had to make it mine. The pattern is clearly contemporary in its muted colour sense, but there’s no escaping the fact that the overscaled leaves and tropical blooms were inspired by some vintage ’60s bark cloth florals. If I’d gone for vintage fabric instead of this new interpretation, I fear the entire room would have looked like it was wearing one of Mrs. Roper’s dressing gowns (of my favourite childhood sitcom, Three’s Company).
Go the walnut way
Also wary of evoking the mood of a ’60s romper room, I decided to steer clear of teak furnishings throughout the house. In seeking to carve out a space that seemed more today than yesteryear I found that the warm mid-tone hue of walnut was best suited to both floors and furnishings.
Fortunately, on my hunt for the right look at the right price I nabbed a pair of boxy bedside tables and matching dresser which offered both ample storage and decorative beauty. One of my frequent objections to contemporary designs is that they often feel too big and clunky, lacking any sculptural interest. This collection has a sort of plinth base that elevates the piece and gives it a lighter feel visually. As someone who is always looking at the most minute details for interest I was also drawn to unusual "butterfly" hardware on the drawers which gave these pieces a unique look despite their friendly mass-market price point.
Pour on some cream
After wrapping the walls in a pale grey lifted from the drapery fabric and dressing the bed in similar tones, I had to add my usual dose of light and bright (read: cream) for contrast. A double panel mirror with an intersecting circle motif, a plush wool area rug and a throw and footstools in faux fur satiated my need for luxury, texture and decadence. The rug feels as though you are walking on a cushy cloud (what a nice treat for tired feet!) and the faux fur elements channel that pampered Hollywood starlet vibe (if you can’t have a little fun with faux fur in the bedroom, just where on earth can you possibly use it without seeming that you’ve joined some sort of Siegfried and Roy fan club?).
Add some razzle-dazzle
The razzle-dazzle infusion in this master comes from some well-priced lighting finds. A discounted glass arm chandelier was made possible by the increasing height of the sloped ceiling and provided enough light that it eliminated the need for additional pot lights (since the sloped ceiling is insulated without enough room to install pot lights I had to devise another way to get enough light into the room).
To add some extra interest to the dresser wall I opted for wall sconces that offer a jewel box effect from a big box provenance. At about $50 each for the sconce and $50 to add the electrical outlet to the wall, these sconces just might be the item with the biggest bang for the buck in the entire room.