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Surround Yourself With Romance

Simple Ideas for Romantic Decorating In Your Home

Spring is prime time for romance. The birds are building their nests, flowers are blooming and everything is green and new again. But you don't have to wait for spring to bring that fresh, soft feeling into your home.

For Adria Hollenback of Sherwood, Ore., bringing that romantic, springtime ambiance into the home she shares with her husband and stepson is important enough to work at all year round. "I work full time so it is hard to find time to decorate," Hollenback says. "That's what I love about the romance style – the smallest ideas can create the biggest impact."

Hollenback spends time searching through home magazines, looking for quick ideas to make her house warm and inviting – one of the hallmarks of the romance look. Combining lace with nature, adding candles and fresh flowers and replacing heavy curtains with lace sheers are all simple ways to give your home a touch of romance.

"Singing birds, gardens, the smell of spring, lace and soft linens are so relaxing when brought into the home," Hollenback says. "One way I have incorporated this into my home is by placing several combinations of silk plants and flowers in the space above my kitchen cabinets to resemble a flower bed."

Hollenback decorated her home in pale yellow, cream, mauve and moss green because she wanted it to feel soft and welcoming with a touch of nature's beauty. "Most all colors will work as long as they are not too bold and blend together well," Hollenback says. "It is good to have one dark color and three pale colors. Colors that work together are lavender, white, pale blue and purple. Sage, white, pink and burgundy also work well together."

Instant RomanceDenise L. Caringer, editor of The New Decorating Book (Better Homes and Gardens, 2003), believes the easiest way to instant romance is with a bucket of paint. "Romantic colors are in the eye of the beholder – a romantic room might be crisp and white or have a soft, tea-stained look," Caringer says. "But in general, think creamy or pastel if you want to create a romantic look."

Lighting is another way to create a soft, romantic feel. Caringer suggests looking for lamps with translucent shades – they'll cast a lovely soft light, especially if you buy three-way lamps so you can adjust the light level or plug existing lamps into a tabletop dimmer.

"A lineup of flickering votive candles on a mantle or a sideboard can work wonders in changing a room's mood, yet they cost virtually nothing," Caringer says.

For Caringer, romantic rooms are gentle rooms, easy on both the mind and the spirit. "They caress your body with softness and relax your eye with flowing lines," Caringer says. "The usually muted color palettes of romantic rooms create an especially serene look."

A State of MindDesigners and entertainment experts Michele Adams and Gia Russo, co-authors of the book At Home with Friends: Spontaneous Celebrations for Any Occasion (Chronicle Books, 2002), believe that romance is not easily defined as a style.

"It has more to do with a mood or state of mind than a specific type of design," Russo says. "The key is to do something that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. That way you will feel open to romance."

Adams and Russo believe that scents and lighting are simple ways to bring romance into your home. They suggest using scented candles in different areas of your home. Don't go too cheap on candles, however, they say, as the more expensive ones seem to have the best scent.

Another simple way to create a romantic mood in a living space is by adding layers of texture with fabrics, rugs and pillows. Adams and Russo suggest that the use of sheer drapes on windows, a shaggy or plush rug underfoot and a cushy mix of soft floor and throw pillows creates a plush space to relax.

It isn't difficult to incorporate the romantic style into your home and the rewards are well worth it, as it brings a simple warmth and serenity into your life.

Ideas for Bringing the Romance Look into Your Home

  • Decide first what type of romantic look inspires you. You may think of a flower garden or a visit to Paris. Whatever your inspiration, use it to guide your choices of colors and furnishings.
  • In the dining room, play up that newfound romance with a crisp white tablecloth, and add a curvy chandelier – on a dimmer, of course – so you can dim down the light.
  • Lighten the mood by painting or color-washing dining room furnishings in soft whites or creams. Ditto for chairs.
  • For almost instant romance, add a flowing skirt over existing tables.
  • For the bed, layer on a plump down duvet and beautiful linens. Depending on your taste, romance may mean frills and lace or understated, beautifully-trimmed damasks and satins.
  • Replace an older bed with a new four-poster canopy.
  • Bring flowers into your home. Place a single flower in a crystal vase or buy flowered garland and drape it over your curtains.
  • Add textural interest with touchable fabrics.
  • Whimsical, rustic touches add an interesting counterpoint to the romance look. Try a grouping of garden hats or a collection of antique fishing creels to add depth to your décor.

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