An Empty Nesters’ Stylish Sanctuary

Her “hip, art-loving” empty-nester clients wanted to completely redesign the “cavernous and impersonal” 500-square-foot master suite in their New Rochelle Colonial, says designer Claire Paquin, founder of Clean Design in Scarsdale. “They hated the light in the room; it had just two recessed lights way up in a 14-foot-high ceiling, and they didn’t know how to treat its large windows,” she adds. The biggest challenge? Bringing the space down to human scale. To visually lower the ceiling, Paquin had the walls painted a deep color, added an accent wall of metallic grasscloth behind the bed and used a stunning crystal, Sputnik-like chandelier to stop the eye from traveling up farther. Window treatments and carpeting in a subtle palette of warm grays, taupes, and rich blues make the space feel like a more intimate and sophisticated jewel box, says Paquin. A variety of complementary materials—grasscloth, tile, lacquer, metal, crystal, velvet, silk, wood—add layers of complexity and interest to the design. 

Bringing It Home: Claire Paquin’s Tips


Use soothing color schemes like pale blues, minty greens, mauves, and lavenders.

“They’re livable, serene and help convey the feel of a calming retreat.”

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Buy an oversize area rug.

It should cover the majority of the floor space, to give a room a comfortable and welcoming feel.

Install a center light.

A pendant or chandelier adds visual interest.

Go with layered window treatments.

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These both control light and enhance a space aesthetically. 

Choose furniture with ample storage and custom closets.

You want storage enough to contain clothing and accessories and keep them out of sight. 

Try a wallpapered accent wall behind the bed.

“It’s a great way to introduce texture or pattern, as well as emphasize the color scheme.”

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Be careful about miscalculating scale.

“I often see master bedrooms where the lighting and rugs are too small, and the furniture is too large.”


Buy all furniture from the same line.
This is a common mistake when it comes to the master. Buying matching bedroom sets, “is a huge missed opportunity to allow the master bedroom to reflect your personality and become a sophisticated oasis with layered textures and materials, instead of a flat, bland space.”

Fave New Furnishing

Ercole nightstands with drawer faces veneered with tile mosaics.
“I love to mix materials, and this shimmery element adds a touch of glamour.”

Refresh for Less by…

Swapping pillows on the bed or seating area for new ones. 

Introducing new accessories, such as silk flowers and objets d’art.


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