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Suite Dreams: Master Bedroom Design for Timber Homes

No longer just another bedroom, the perfect master suite is all about the details.

Main-floor master suites are gaining in popularity, thanks to their privacy benefits and universal-design appeal. Photo by Heidi Long.
Perhaps the best perk about designing your own timber home is the freedom to include anything you want in the design. Sure, this means a lot of decisions about what details are most important to you and your lifestyle, but the end result is a customized design, tailor made to your taste and needs. And the timber home master bedroom is a big part of this “dream home” equation. The place where you’ll retreat to rest and relax, you’ll want to make sure that your master bedroom feels like a soothing getaway, while still functioning well. 
So, how should you go about designing the perfect master suite to accommodate your needs and wants? First, think about location. “The timber-frame market is made up primarily of people in their 50s and 60s, so a first-floor master suite is a common request when people are concerned about accessibility as they grow older,” says Patrick Seaman, president and general manager of Woodhouse Timber Frame Homes in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. 
“On the other hand, I had a first-floor master bedroom in my first timber-frame home, and my wife made me include it on the second floor when we designed our current home. She didn’t like being separated from our relatively young kids, who were 6 and 13 at the time.” Although this is a common concern for parents with younger families, the old philosophy of grouping all the bedrooms together in a removed area of the home seems to be shifting. 
You will want to think about privacy, though. Rather than locating your bedroom door directly off a living room or kitchen, consider tucking away the entry for visual privacy, as well as sound buffering. Everyone, including guests and family members, will feel more comfortable if they don’t feel like the homeowners are sleeping right next door while they’re spending time in the main living areas of the home. 
Once you’ve picked the location of your master suite, it’s time to move on to the design details — a process that Seaman believes is enhanced by working with the frame that comes along with a timber home. “Rather than limiting your design options, I believe working with a timber frame expands them,” he says. “For instance, you can use the posts to frame a built-in or bay window.” Or you can up the luxury factor a notch and incorporate a gas fireplace or entertainment center into your suite before using the timber beams to frame your special feature. 
Remember, though, that the elements will need to be coordinated with your furniture in mind, as well as the size of the room and the location of the windows and doors. Seaman suggests a few other little luxuries you could incorporate into your master suite: “I’ve seen everything from hidden televisions — they rise up out of a cabinet using a remote — to private decks and hidden rooms for housing valuables, such as jewelry or guns,” he notes. Another design idea that comes easily with a timber-frame home is the option to highlight a dramatic ceiling with the help of specialty lighting, such as track lighting that can installed on the timber beams and positioned to shine up on the sloping ceilings. His favorite idea, though, is a laundry room incorporated into or between two walk-in closets — a smart solution to hauling your dirty clothes into the home’s main living spaces.
 To accomplish all of these things, though, make sure you discuss your wants ahead of time and also discuss what furniture you’ll want to include in the space so your designer can incorporate them into the drawings and account for them when deciding on measurements. 
Fortunately, according to Seaman, timber companies have overcome frame constraints by going with a hybrid design with SIP-only walls and timber trusses or rafters supporting the roof. For the most part, though, he recommends working the beauty of the beams into your design for a truly unique master bedroom suite.

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