Not since the Victorian age of starched sheets and starchy manners, builders and architects say, have there been so many orders for separate bedrooms. Or separate sleeping nooks. Or his-and-her wings.
In interviews, couples and sociologists say that often it has nothing to do with sex. More likely, it has to do with snoring. Or with children crying. Or with getting up and heading for the gym at 5:30 in the morning. Or with sending e-mail messages until well after midnight.
In a survey in February by the National Association of Home Builders, builders and architects predicted that more than 60 percent of custom houses would have dual master bedrooms by 2015, according to Gopal Ahluwalia, staff vice president of research at the builders association. Some builders say more than a quarter of their new projects already do.
What could be called the home-sleeping-alone syndrome is not limited to the wealthy. For middle-income homeowners, it may be a matter of moving into a spare bedroom, the recreation room or the den. In St. Louis, Lana Pepper, a light sleeper who battled for years with her husband’s nocturnal restlessness, reconfigured the condominium they bought recently, adding walls to create separate bedrooms. Mrs. Pepper said the advantage to separate rooms was obvious: “My husband is still alive. I would have killed him.”
“It was more than snoring,” she said, recounting the bad old days of a shared bed. “He cannot have his feet tucked into any of the covers; I have to have them tucked in. So I took all the linens and split them with scissors. Then I finished the edge so that half of the sheet would tuck under and the other half he could kick out.”
That did not help his snoring, so she bought a white noise machine; she even went to a shooting range to buy “a pair of those big ear guards they wear.” They did not suit her.
According to the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, 75 percent of adults frequently either wake in the night or snore — and many have taken to separate beds just for those reasons. In a report issued Tuesday, the foundation found that more than half the women
http://www.nytimes.eom/2007/03/l 1/us/l Iseparate,html?_r=l&ei=5087&em=&en=8b213… 1/19/2008
Occasionally, the need to separate does have to do with sex. Professor Rosenblatt said one older woman he interviewed said she had her own bedroom because, “I’ve paid my dues. I’m old enough that I don’t want to have sex at i a.m.”
No matter what the reasons, architects and builders say they know enough not to call them “master” bedrooms anymore.
“Women are buying more homes, and women are sensitive to that terminology of the ‘master suite,’ and they’re opting for the term ‘owners’ suite,’ ” said Barbara Slavkin, an interior designer in St. Louis.
Dale Mulfinger, an architect in Minneapolis, said, “How about ‘couples’ realms’?”
Whatever you call them, they certainly seem to suit the Peppers, the St. Louis couple who reconfigured their new condominium to give them each a sleeping sanctuary.
Ted Pepper’s room, lined with a bank of windows that open onto a rooftop terrace, has none of the sleeping paraphernalia — the sound machine, the sleeping mask — found in his wife’s room. The only evidence of his sleep habits is the twisted knot of sheets and blankets on his bed.
“Now, there’s a demonstration,” said Mr. Pepper, 67, gesturing toward the swirl of bedding and chuckling. “She’d wake up if I moved even a little.”
The Peppers agree: separate bedrooms have added spice to their relationship. “It’s more exciting,” Mrs. Pepper said, “when you can say: ‘Your room or mine?’ “
Reporting was contributed by Malcolm Gay in St. Louis, Christopher Maag in Cleveland, Claudia Rowe in Seattle and Katie Zezima in Boston.