The challenge: Sue Slattery-Burke and her husband had lived in their Orono home for 15 years, but she had never liked their all-white,'80s-vintage bedroom and bath. "It was bland and disjointed — doors were in funny places," she said. "I hated it so much I never did anything with it. I wanted to wait until I could do it right." With their four children now ages 14 to 23, the couple decided it was time to turn their owners' suite into an oasis of privacy and tranquility. "I just wanted a little escape, like a little cocoon up there," Slattery-Burke said.

The designer: Lucy Penfield, Lucy Interior Design, www.lucy­, 612-339-2225. Penfield, who had worked with the couple on other projects, already was familiar with their home and style preferences. "They were very excited to finally get to their room, which was a little chopped up and very sterile," she said. Penfield knew one challenge would be balancing their different aesthetics. Slattery-Burke, an artist and sculptor, wanted the space to feel romantic and warm. "She likes moody and dark, drama and textures," Penfield said. Slattery-Burke's husband, a physician, gravitates to clean lines and modern shapes. "Our job was to balance both and create a respite for them."

First things first: To improve the flow and utility of the space, Penfield worked with builder House Dressing to move some walls and doors. To open up the bedroom, they eliminated one small closet and reduced the size of the bathroom, closing one of its two entrances. And to add warmth and beauty to the bedroom, they installed a fireplace, with a surround of dark-stained, hand-planed bamboo. "That became the focal point," Penfield said. "They never had one before."

Yin and yang: In the reworked space, Penfield juxtaposed dark and light, feminine and masculine elements and glamorous, luminescent finishes with cozy plush ones. The new color palette blended dark graphite and espresso with soft shades of pink and plum. The gray grasscloth wallcovering, a masculine element, was balanced with embroidered silk pillows.

Work of art: To create a unique, luxurious headboard, Penfield used gilded 5-inch Rococo-style picture framing to outline the space above the bed, which she upholstered with pleated velvet. "It's very grand and elaborate," she said.

Glamorous bath: Slattery-Burke wanted a soaking tub; her husband wanted a steam shower. Penfield accommodated both, again combining dark and light, masculine and feminine. The woodwork is dark hand-planed bamboo, like the fireplace, and the vanity top is a chunky slab of dark honed granite. The porcelain-tiled floor looks like wood planking with its elongated tiles, while glass accent tiles add shimmer to walls. Above the tub is a cascading crystal chandelier with a translucent silk shade. "It looks like a wedding cake," Penfield said. Bocci lights "dance over the basin like little stars," and a 1960 Panton chair, in white, adds an iconic modern silhouette. Sheer translucent draperies filter the light without obscuring the view of the nearby meadow.

The result: The makeover has dramatically changed the way the couple use their space. "It's our retreat," said Slattery-Burke. "We're up there a lot — talking, hanging out. It's a nice quiet place in our house where we can be alone. Before, we used it just to sleep. Now I like to read and relax there — the space is so inviting and tranquil. It's my favorite spot in the house."

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784