Decor, planning bring first-floor master suites into bloom

by Judy Stringer

Main-floor master suites are a growing trend in new-home construction and for good reason. As the American population ages, more home buyers want the option of remaining in their homes as long as possible.

Not having to scale the stairs daily is a big part of aging in place. And experts say creating a serene and cozy first-floor retreat that is functional today and for years to come begins with some carefully chosen color schemes and accessories.

Go cool with wall colors, suggests Dean Gerbasi, designer at Wooster-based Pine Tree Barn. “Lighter and softer colors are always better for bedrooms,” he said. “The color we are using a lot is this spa blue, which is a very, very light blue. It tends to have a very calming effect on people.”

Complement the cool walls with cream or ivory linens for a clean bedroom look. Gerbasi said it’s a good idea to pull that wall color onto the bed with decorative bed pillows. He also likes to introduce texture through throw pillows. Pick ones with a “little bling” or some sparkling sequins, Gerbasi said.

Or, insert tones like creams and beige in bed coverings and accessories to add some warmth to bedrooms painted in cooler colors, said Julie Pawlowski, owner of MOD: Matter of Design in Hudson. Pawlowski. She also favors cool hues on the walls, suggesting the use of light grays and neutral greens in addition to soft blues and balancing those with warmer linens and rugs and/or natural elements, such as plants and faux-fur rugs or throws.

“There is even this natural wood paneling, these cool panels that Velcro onto a wall, and you can create a whole wall of wood,” Pawlowski said. “It really warms up the room and creates a relaxing environment.

And, she said, “The introduction of luxury wall covering has added a lot of options to help bring warmth and textured detail to your room. From woven jute and  grass cloth to silk or metallic, the options are endless and can provide a fun way to add another layer.”

Lighting and furniture are two other considerations. Don’t settle for harsh overhead lighting, Gerbasi said. Invest in lamps with three-way bulbs or dimmers so you can adjust lighting to the mood. Pawlowski added that chandeliers bring instant luxury to a bedroom, while “layering” lanterns and candles reinforces a cozy décor. 

Both designers said bedroom sets of matched furniture are out. Couples are opting to mix and match wood tones in the bedroom, mimicking a trend that started in kitchens. With closet size on the rise, some folks find they can skip traditional bureaus all together, Gerbasi said, and integrate interesting painted furniture pieces into bedrooms. Pair those with more conventional nightstands, he said. For the master bathroom, consider light-colored towels, such as those that match the wall color in the bedroom; although, when in doubt, nothing beats fluffy white towels and rugs for a spa-like look and feel. An easy add-on is to layer luxurious spa goodies, such as scented soaps and lotions, according to Gerbasi. If you have the space, incorporate a teak bench or bamboo plant to introduce organic elements to the bathroom, Pawlowski said.