- - Thursday, February 23, 2012

Does your master bedroom have stacks of laundry to fold, six months of magazines you keep trying to read and a pile of overdue library books? If so, it may be time for a master-suite makeover.

While a top-of-the-line interior designer can bring your master suite to new heights of sophistication, local designers are willing to share a few pointers on how to make your personal space - whether it’s a tiny apartment-size master bedroom or a suite worthy of a king and queen - into a truly relaxing area that also reflects your personality.

“You start off in a good direction with a master suite if you can keep it just as a bedroom and not a playroom or an office, too,” said Nancy Colbert, president and owner of Design Partners in McLean. “Next, you should eliminate as much clutter as possible.”

Ms. Colbert said the view outside the bedroom can have a big impact on the space, so she recommended using window treatments to cover a less-than-enticing view and soften the room.

“The most important way for a room to be relaxing is to have welcoming, calm colors and soft colors,” said Barbara Hawthorn, president of Barbara Hawthorn Interiors in McLean. “You need to find out which colors you find the most restful. After you decide on your colors, you need to use soft, tactile, inviting fabrics.”

Sandra Meyers, owner of Sandra Meyers Design Studio in Rockville, said the first step for any interior design project, in any room, is to identify the colors that make you happy.

“Some people want bright, vibrant colors to wake up to, while others like subdued, soft colors,” Ms. Meyers said. “The colors or even a pattern you like reflect your personality. You can layer in the colors, even if just in accents, on your bedding, seating areas and wall colors.”

Even if you are on a budget, you can personalize your space with your favorite colors and your art, Ms. Colbert said.

“A can of paint is one of the least expensive ways to improve your home, but you can also do inexpensive things like blowing up your own photos and framing them for art, Ms. Colbert said. “One designer painted a series of small canvases in blocks of color and framed them, then displayed them in an interesting pattern for a unique look.”

Ms. Colbert said lighting can be another way to make a bedroom more relaxing, especially if the lighting can be controlled with a dimmer switch.

“If your view is nice, you can open your window treatments for natural light or filter the light with blinds and sheer curtains,” Ms. Colbert said. “Beyond natural light, you need a combination of light sources, such as recessed lighting, a reading light by a chair and reading lights next to the bed.”

Homeowners with a large bedroom may need to create smaller spaces within the bedroom to make the room more intimate and cozier.

“A very big bedroom, one with a vast space, needs things like a seating area and perhaps a screen to divide the space or columns to add architectural interest,” Ms. Meyers said. “You need more than just furniture; you need details such as moldings, knee walls, built-in bookcases or cabinets or maybe a ceiling treatment.”

Adding a soft paint color or a decorative hanging fixture can add personality and warm up a large bedroom space, Ms. Colbert said.

Ms. Hawthorn suggested creating a restful and intimate sleeping space within a large bedroom with fabric.

“In the 1700s, draperies were used around beds for warmth and privacy,” Ms. Hawthorn said. “You can create almost a cocoonlike effect that looks luxurious without being costly by building a frame on your ceiling or attaching poles that drop from the ceiling and hanging inexpensive fabric to curtain the bed.”

Many large new homes include a morning bar for coffee and juice in the bedroom, so Ms. Hawthorn suggested including a cozy dining area for morning coffee in addition to a comfortable sitting area. She suggested making groupings of a sofa and chairs in one area, a small dining table in another and the bed in another area of a large room.

“It’s nice to have flexible sizes for bedroom furniture so you can even move a sofa or bench to the end of the bed if the family wants to watch TV together,” Ms. Hawthorn said. “Upholstered pieces also cut down on that echoey feeling you sometimes get in a large space. But be careful of the scale of your pieces, too. Make sure the sofa is never wider than the bed.”

In both large and small spaces, reducing clutter and paring down your belongings can immediately add to the restfulness of the space.

“I suggest taking a photo of your room because what you need to get rid of will immediately jump out at you in the picture,” Ms. Hawthorn said. “Take the things you love and your collections and arrange them into a cabinet instead of spreading them out everywhere to avoid a cluttered look. Even family photos can be framed and put onto the wall instead of having lots of little frames gathering dust on your dresser.”

In smaller bedrooms, Ms. Colbert recommended paring down the number of pieces of furniture to make the space seem larger.

“You might be able to reorganize your closet to eliminate a dresser in the bedroom so that all you have are two nightstands,” Ms. Colbert said.

Consumers with a lot of books and magazines should look for a nightstand with drawers so they can be kept out of sight, Ms. Meyers said.

Ms. Hawthorn recommended storing items under the bed either in a platform bed with drawers or behind a dust ruffle and evaluating how to use all the space from your floor to your ceiling.

“You can even wrap a shelf just below the ceiling all the way around the room to display a collection without taking up floor space,” Ms. Hawthorn said.

Small spaces can be improved by tying together all the colors and fabrics to give a greater sense of cohesion and space, Ms. Hawthorn said. She recommended putting a screen across one corner of a small room to eliminate the boxy look and create intimacy.

Ms. Meyers said scale and proportion for your furnishings are more important in a small space.

“If you have a king-size bed and need to squeeze in two nightstands, you should go with taller nightstands and a chunkier, weightier lamp to make everything visually in scale,” Ms. Meyers said. “If you have a platform bed, you might want tall and skinny lamps to balance out the low bed.”

One way Ms. Meyers suggested for reorganizing your bedroom is to think about what you would like to see when you first wake up in the morning and the last thing you want to see before you fall asleep at night - which is why exercise equipment and your home office should be hidden from view or in another room.

“Your bedroom should be your final oasis,” she said.

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