Master Retreat… The Yin and Yang

From a health perspective, bedrooms may be the most important rooms in our homes. It’s where we close the door to the stressors of the day, recharge and get those all-important seven to eight hours of sleep that keep us in the best of health.

Sleep & Your Health

The United States has become a sleep-deprived nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 40% of adults are sleeping less than the recommended seven to eight hours per night. Incidences of sleep disorders – insomnia, sleep walking, apnea, recurrent nightmares – are also on the rise.

The CDC attributes a lack of sleep to an array of problems, notably our inability to concentrate on tasks, as well as traffic accidents and industrial mishaps. More discerning is the impact sleep deprivation has on every system in our bodies. According to the National Institutes of Health, a lack of sleep can weaken immune systems, contribute to depression and factor into weight gain. It can also put you at risk for heart disease, an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.


Thirty years ago, Carol and Pete Heth expanded their 19th century farmhouse by building an addition. Plans called for a master suite on the second floor. While the addition accomplished their goal, Carol recalls that the resulting bathroom “was really small. I used mirrors to make it look larger.” Still, it was a vast improvement, and the Heths were pleased with their private getaway.

Seven years ago the Heths revisited the project and bumped out the front wall in order to create space for a much larger bathroom. The bump-out also created space for a large walk-in closet. “A lack of closets is a problem in a house that dates to the 1860s,” Carol affirms. To remedy the situation, she had resorted to using antique wardrobes for storage purposes.

Updating the master suite allowed her to design a space that would be practical yet indulging. “I purposely wanted a dark bedroom,” Carol explains. “I’m really sensitive to light; even the light from a full moon will wake me up.” So, in designing the bedroom, she opted to use dark tones that deliver a sense of nature to the room. In Carol’s estimation, “The ceiling mimics the night sky, the wallpaper represents the forest, and the cork floor is like the mossy ground.” Layers of airy curtains are used to filter natural light.

The décor of the bedroom is in keeping with the period of the house. “It’s things we’ve collected over the years,” she says of the furnishings. Principles of Feng Shui also helped to turn the room into a stress-free zone. The antique bed “floats” in the middle of the room. Clutter is minimal. It’s also technology-free. The Heths’ French bulldog, Bella, has a cozy corner of the room dedicated to her sleep needs. Accessories switch in and out, depending upon the season. “I like a splash of red in the winter,” Carol says.

Walk through the glass doors, and you’re in another world. The spacious, thoroughly modern bathroom has all the amenities of a spa. Floors are warmed by radiant heat. The glass-enclosed shower offers a multiplicity of shower heads and sprays. The space is also practical as it does double duty as a laundry: cabinets beneath the his-and-her vanity hold a washer and dryer.

Art is also at home in the bath and includes a glass vessel created by Joel Myers of Marietta. The glass entry door and mirror-on-mirror details were designed by Carol. A painting, which was done by a family member and was discovered hidden away in a basement, provides the pop of red that inspired the color for the closet cabinetry – heartthrob red! Crystal chandeliers provide a touch of glamour. “The bathroom is unexpected,” Carol says of the master suite’s contrast of styles. “But that’s what makes the space fun and interesting.”

Through working with clients, Carol finds that many people dismiss the importance of their bedrooms. All too often they are furnished with a mish-mash of things that don’t fit elsewhere in the house or are hand-me downs that simply end up there as a last resort. Carol also finds that such rooms tend to be devoid of the little things – accessories, art, etc. – that make bedrooms unique. “Whether it’s a room for grown-ups or kids, it needs to convey that,” she says. “It’s the one room in the house where you can make a personal style statement.” In working with clients, Carol often uses art to uncover their style and color preferences. “I’ll put several paintings in someone’s bedroom and have them live with each one for a while,” she explains. “Then I’ll ask them to choose their favorite, and we’ll work from there on selecting colors, fabrics and so on.”

Design/Build: Carol and Pete Heth/Pete Heth General Contractor
Vanity/Closet Cabinetry: Dennis Shenk/Horizon Kitchens
Tile: ProSource Wholesale Floorcoverings
Lighting: Yale Lighting Concepts & Design
Plumbing Fixtures: Kohler
Wallpaper: York Wallcoverings
Floral Design: Floral Designs of Mount Joy
Accessories: Floral Designs of Mount Joy, Stauffers of Kissel Hill, HomeGoods
Glass Sculpture (bathroom): Joel Myers
Glass Sculpture (closet): Blenko Glass (Milton, West Virginia)
Glass Fabricator (entry door): R&S Glass
Glass Fabricator (shower): Howells Glass Company


Creating a Zen Bedroom

Jayme Barrett, the author of Feng Shui Your Life, says the bedroom is where we decompress and “turn off the stresses of the day.” What follows are some guidelines for decorating and furnishing a bedroom, using the principles of Feng Shui, which is the ancient art of placement that promotes good energy and harmonious living.

Color: Warm, rich, earthy tones create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. Cool hues create tranquility. Red, which is perceived as a stimulating color (hence its popularity in a dining room), is best used in the bedroom as an accent color.

Art: Select something that represents enjoyment: nature, travel, gardening, etc. Position it so that it’s the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning.

Accessorizing: Pairs or multiples bring balance to a room.

Multi-tasking: This is a no-no. A bedroom is not an office, nor is it a gym. It’s not a place to watch a scary movie (if you have a TV in the bedroom, it should be in a cabinet/armoire with doors so it’s out of sight and out of mind). It’s not a library (get rid of those busy-looking bookcases).

Natural Light/Fresh Air: A definite yes to both. The more the better.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: An abundance of mirrors will result in too much energy bouncing around the room.

The Bed: This is the most important piece of furniture in the room. Position it so that it is as far away from the door as possible but where you have a view of it. Such a strategy promotes a sense of safety and protection while you sleep. Leave enough room around the bed for energy to flow freely. And, don’t use the area under your bed for storage (clutter=bad energy).

The Nightstand: Actually, two are essential for balance. Top them with lamps, inspirational books, favorite photos and a plant/fresh flowers.

The Senses: Include items that serve as a treat to the senses: flowers, a scented candle, luxe fabrics, music, wine, etc.

Feeling Out of Sorts? Bring some control to your life by cleaning and organizing closets and drawers.

For the Men: Put the toilet seat down at night; if you don’t, good energy will go right down the drain.


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