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Create an Island Retreat in Your Master Bedroom

Imagine your own private island oasis. Sand, surf and sun creating a sense of peace so deep you can touch it. Tile floors, soft natural textures and fresh white curtains billowing gently with fragrant ocean breezes. Can you imagine it? I could. The problem was, of course, that I live in a small house in Western Oregon, and traveling to Hawaii for some much needed island rest and relaxation was out of the question. So my husband and I decided to create an island oasis in our master bedroom, a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday world, a place where we can enjoy imaginary tropical breezes wafting through our room.

The Need

My husband and I are not the only ones who like the idea of creating a master bedroom retreat. Amanda Moore, the owner and principal designer of re:place Design in New York City believes the master bedroom is a perfect place to create a hide away. "It's important to create a retreat-like feel in one's master bedroom to off-set the loaded, hectic work days most of us have," she says. "Whether you work hard, long hours at the office or are running around from activity to activity with the kids, you likely reach the end of each day a little frazzled. Creating a special environment to promote relaxation and the release of tension is ideal for one's bedroom, helping to aid the transition into a restful night ahead."

Many people splurge on costly island vacations for large doses of much-needed relaxation throughout the year. Moore believes it would be ideal if we could all experience a sliver of this feeling of tranquility every night when we retire to bed. When Moore is designing a master bedroom for a client, she often references their travel experiences and dreams in the decorative plans to support a sense of escape from the rest of their home and the day that has passed.

"Naturally, most of us frequently dream of an island escape, so infusing a bit of this feeling into a bedroom design inspires all of the effects of a well-deserved tropical vacation – relaxation, rejuvenation, a bit of detoxification – and brings them into the everyday," says Moore.

Colors of the Tropics

Creating an island feel to your bedroom can be as easy as changing the color of your walls and bed linens, or it can be as comprehensive as adding a tile floor, a ceiling fan and new window treatments.

Moore suggests you do some research on island colors and mix and match the ones that say soothing to you. "The colors naturally associated with the island landscape are the blues and turquoises of the sea, the soft neutrals of the sand, and the greens of the surrounding fauna," she says. "Some may link stunning corals and golds with memorable island sunrises and sunsets, while others may incorporate crisp white, pink, yellow and other vibrant tones of Caribbean architecture into their island theme."

Moore says that darker blue hues have a natural calming, pacifying effect on the mind while turquoise tones inspire creativity and are good for healing mental strain and fatigue. Bright orange tones can be mixed in to recall a fiery sun setting over the ocean, but the color in large doses can be too stimulating for a bedroom retreat, however, it does have powerful connections to romance and sexual energy!

Textures, Knickknacks and Window Dressings

Much of creating an island feel comes from the little things that add texture and ambiance to a room. A bamboo or wicker headboard or chair adds texture to a room, as does adding some tropical looking plants. Pineapples incorporated into the décor lend a delicious feel to the room, as do coconuts.

"Window treatments and bedding, as with all accessories, are key to creating an island theme," says Moore. "You can keep a neutral foundation on the walls (whites, creams, pale sky blues, grass cloth wall coverings, etc.) and add your color through accessories that you can easily swap out if and when you tire of them. This allows for a continually changing 'theme' that you can live with."

Moore says you can also opt for the opposite impact with bright blue walls contrasted by natural accents in bamboo and jute and linen, but either way, the soft furnishings on the bed and windows must tie in. "My favorite look for the linens in an island theme is an all-white bed with a mixture of texture," she says. "You may even want to consider the look of mosquito netting with white sheers from your bed posts if you have them or simply hung right from the ceiling. The look is rustic and romantic at the same time and screams island."

For windows, Moore suggests natural woven, match stick or bamboo shades are most appropriate but you could also try brightly colored floral drapes, particularly if you have yet to commit to anything bold and beachy.

The Essential Extras

Kathy Peterson, designer and author of Kathy Peterson's Great Outdoor Decorating Makeovers (Watson-Guptill Publications, 2004), believes artwork is essential to creating that island oasis. "The ideal artwork would be soft water colors (original or prints) of the ocean, perhaps with an impressionistic style, framed with a white-washed frame," she says. "Also consider adding art to your headboard or furniture, such as sea oats, a subtle star fish or perhaps a subtle palm tree, but don't go overboard! Less is best."

Creating a tropical retreat in your master bedroom is not only relaxing, but invigorating. It helps you relax in the evening and sends you off happy and refreshed the next morning. Peterson gives some easy do it yourself tips for crafting your own island paradise:

  • Start with soothing colors like sand, sea foam green, soft blue, etc. on your walls and furniture. If painting furniture, start with a white base or primer coat, and then add a few light coats of paint. Once dry, gently sand the furniture to create a weathered look.
  • If applicable, corner your bed and nestle a faux palm tree in the corner. Add an up light for evening drama or add twinkle lights in the palm for added appeal.
  • Netting over your bed can be expensive, but check out fabric stores for inexpensive tooling or cheese cloth. Simply attach cup hooks to the ceiling, and drape. This is also good for draping over curtains and mirrors.
  • Add sandy-like texture to accessories using special spray paints on lamp bases, vases, storage boxes, etc.
  • Cool, crisp sheets in light airy colors and a simple white or pale color of blue cover will make the room feel island like and restful.
  • Add mirrors. Mirrors add light and are especially romantic when used with candles.

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