© May 14, 2007
By Riddhi Trivedi-St. Clair, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
ST. LOUIS - For the last 18 months, Joe LeVasseur and his wife, Ann, have been sleeping in separate bedrooms except on weekends.
Married 31 years, it's not that they don't like being together anymore, Joe said. But his sleeping habits are erratic and his wife is a light sleeper. He wakes up often in the night, leaves for work by 6:30 a.m. and occasionally snores.
"I am concerned about her not getting enough sleep," LeVasseur said. "On weekends we still sleep together."
So when they purchased their new home in Chesterfield, Mo., they decided it made sense to have separate bedrooms.
The separate-bedroom concept is gaining popularity among many couples. Architects say more clients are requesting separate-but-equal master bedrooms in new houses. One St. Louis-area developer has started including two master suites in a handful of houses in all of his upscale single-family subdivisions and condominium projects.
A February survey by the National Association of Home Builders projected that by 2015, a typical upscale house - one measuring at least 4,000 square feet - will include two master suites. As part of an ongoing "home of the future" study, the survey asked architects, designers, manufacturers and marketing experts throughout the country what features they think such a house would include.
A large majority of respondents also reported that demand for two master suites would increase "significantly to very significantly by 2015," said Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the association. About 25 percent of all upscale houses being built in the last couple of years have dual master bedrooms.
"We didn't anticipate those responses," he said.
And yet the concept of two master suites is not entirely new. A lot of the older luxurious custom houses built from 1945 to 1960 in upscale markets like Ladue had two bedrooms on the first floor with independent dressing rooms and bathrooms.
Many buyers didn't see the point of having two master bedrooms and ripped them out, said Tricia Sinn, of Sinn Design/Build, based in Ladue.
The trend has slowly re-emerged, first through separate bathrooms or dressing rooms and then through "anti-snoring anterooms."
Couples have been requesting separate bathrooms off the master suites and individual dressing rooms or closets for several years, said Carol Wall, owner and president of Mitchell Wall Architects based in Creve Couer, Mo. When one of the spouses was a snorer, couples often would request a smaller room off the master bedroom.
"We would build these anterooms, but we never asked if it was for the snorer or snoree," Wall said.
Then she started receiving requests for houses with separate master bedrooms.
Dennis Hayden, president of Chesterfield-based Hayden Homes, received his first request for a house with two master suites in 1985.
"The owners asked me to customize the floor plan to accommodate two sleeping rooms for the adults," Hayden said. "At the time I considered it an unusual request, but I didn't want to pry."
Couples often claim the second bedroom or suite is for an in-law or guests. But guest suites usually do not have the same level of finish as a master suite, aren't as spacious and don't have all the amenities of the master suite, she said.
"The belief was that separate bedrooms must mean trouble in the marriage," Sinn said.
That perception is changing, and in recent months, dual master suites have become a not-so-unusual request, she said.
"As the baby boomers age, they care more about function than form. They want a home that meets their needs and lifestyle," Sinn said.
She has had two requests in the last four months.
"Sometimes it's because one of the spouses is a snorer, other times it's because they have different sleep schedules. One likes to stay up late, the other wants to wake up early," she said.
Many people have quirky sleep habits, Sinn said. A recent report by the National Sleep Foundation in Washington reports that 75 percent of adults frequently either wake in the night or snore.
LeVasseur gets up frequently to pen ideas for inventions he is constantly working on.
"I got concerned about her because she is a light sleeper," he said. And her getting a good night's sleep became more important for him than both of them sleeping in the same bedroom each night.
"People are more pragmatic in their approach to their homes. They care more about how they will be living than what people think of it," Hayden said.