Romance Your Rooms

Try these simple touches that turn boring rooms into va-va-voom!

Captivate the Senses

Here's the secret to creating a romantic aura in any room of your home: You must beguile the senses. Sight, sound, touch, and smell should all be engaged in the most pleasant way possible. In this charming bedroom, beautiful furnishings and soft fabrics beckon with the promise of luxury and comfort.

Color Cues

Color has a powerful effect on mood and comfort. If you want to heat up a room in a hurry, red is often associated with romance. But experts say it's best to keep the reds toward the purple end of the spectrum or use a pastel pink, as in this living room of pink, red, and cream. What you don't want is a too-busy color palette, which won't feel intimate or invite relaxation. Along with rosy hues, pale, creamy colors have an inherent glow that is very flattering.

Keep It Pale

Unless your decorating skills are confident and well-honed, it's safest to choose a soft color scheme for a romantic room. Blues and greens are ideal colors because of their naturally soothing and calming tones. In this inviting living room, pale dusty blue provides the color balanced with a large measure of cottage white. The symmetry of artwork, collectibles, and even pillows furthers the calm ambiance of the lovely space.

Frame a View

If you have a romantic view, incorporate it into your room design. Here, a chaise placed in front of a window offers a panoramic view of a breathtaking scene. But even something a bit less grand will do, such as a lovely flower garden, a tree favored by songbirds, or a charming waterfall or fountain.

Choose Romantic Furnishings

Some furnishings, such as a chaise lounge or a four-poster bed, simply breathe romance. "Four-posters are great if they are simple in their scale because they visually create a natural center in a room," says designer Darryl Carter. If your focal point in any room is a piece that conjures a feeling of romance, such as this gorgeously dressed bed, the whole room will feel more inviting and intimate.

Get Intimate

To set the scene, arrange furniture in an intimate grouping for conversation or for lounging with a good book. This dreamy living room provides a comfortable seating area for a cozy chat as well as an inviting recovered antique daybed.

Look for Classic Lines

Opt for designs that have withstood the test of time. "Classic furniture pieces that will survive trends are a safe bet," says designer Carter. Here, a classically inspired chaise pairs well with a modern clean-lined canopy bed. Together with the flowing fabrics they conjure a very romantic setting.

Use Architecture

The physical setting of your room as well as its furnishings, as seen in this kitchen, can suggest romance. When you want to imply an alluring locale, such as Tuscan Italy or country French, use substantial moldings, mantels, ceiling beams, wood, brick, and tile to create an atmosphere of European elegance and luxury.

Soft Lighting

Bright light is the enemy of intimacy, so give yourself lighting options. Install dimmer switches on all lamps and chandeliers to provide just the right amount of light for a quiet tete-a-tete in a den, a romantic dinner in the dining room, or a sensual massage in the bedroom.

The Romance of Fire

The easiest way to inject a romantic atmosphere into a room is with candles or firelight. The flickering flames provide understated light while creating subtle and sensuous movement that both relaxes and tantalizes. Of course, remember to keep lit candles attended at all times.

Reflect Romance

A glittering mirror imparts a feeling of luxury in any environment. Designer Barry Dixon also recommends layering mirrors for an additional level of glamour and romance. "Mirror on mirror is by definition a glitzy, formal look," he says.

Gild the Lily

Incorporating gilded surfaces into this beautiful living room increases its look of luxury. In your decor, add some glam by gilding a mirror, old art frames, candlesticks, or sconces to suggest old-world charm, luxury, and the romance of the past.

Stir Emotions with Art

Lovely artwork, such as these figure studies, can set the tone for intimacy and romance. Place your favorite art, whether portrayals of beautiful landscapes, lush still lifes, or sensuous nudes—on dressers, tables, or in niches.

Embellish with Abandon

It's easy and effective to add a bit of romance with embellishments. Display dainty vases or bowls and perhaps a small piece of sculpture. Attach crystals, beading, and other trims to chandeliers and lampshades. Incorporate texture with ruffles, tassels, tapestry, and embroidery. Bring in a stack of poetry collections or a framed piece of vintage music and place on a piece of hand-painted furniture. Instant romance!

Touch of Romance

When planning a romantic space, don't forget to cater to your sense of touch. Look for soft or gauzy fabrics, such as these bath curtains, and upholster chairs in plush chenilles or velvets. In the bath, use fluffy towels and opaque shades on lamps for a soft, skin-flattering glow.

Sink into Comfort

The real key to a romantic room is the level of comfort. In the bedroom or living room, in particular, it's important to furnish with sink-into-softness luxury. Upholstered furniture or a mattress that feels heavenly and caressing promotes feelings of relaxation and intimacy that encourage you to stay awhile.

Live in Luxury

Nothing is more romantic in the bedroom than a sumptuously made bed. "Buy the best-quality sheets you can afford to start building your luxurious bed," says designer Annie Selke. "Complete the experience by adding European shams, decorative pillows, and a beautiful cozy throw. These are all things that make a bed look truly inviting but are often overlooked."

Feather Your Nest

Layers of textiles add a seductive quality to a space such as this elegant dining room. Tea-stained carpets inject opulence and drama while draperies soften the hard lines of door and window frames and add depth. Make the draperies full and let them billow on the floor a bit. Slipcovers and tablecloths bring grace to tables and chairs.

Silence Is Golden

Provide filtering to keep noise levels down. Use draperies to muffle sound and put plush rugs on the floor. Keep soothing music at your fingertips with favorite CDs. Romance is all about focusing on people and surroundings—keep the television in another room or shut away so that no distractions can intrude.

The Scent of Romance

Scent is a powerful mood enhancer. Use scented oils and candles in every room but make certain the perfume remains subtle. Employ cut flowers and lightly scented plants such as herbs to introduce naturally attractive aromas.

A Taste for Luxury

Indulge your romantic palette as well as your other senses! Indoors or out, enjoy a glass of wine with a loved one or dear friend at the end of the day. Start a romantic evening with a glass of champagne or, for a late-night indulgence, place a tray of strawberries and cream or some Belgian chocolates on the bedside table.

Romantic Outdoor Room

Make sure your romantic sensibilities carry through when decorating your outdoor rooms, too. Porches and patios are ideal spots to while away relaxing moments with those you love. Use charming wicker furnishings, billowing fabrics and pillows, soft floor coverings, and large container plants. Install a ceiling fan for an artificial breeze.

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