Romance is a funny old thing; it can sneak up on you, hit you like a thunderbolt, or just be tantalisingly out of reach, but there’s one place where it’s all too easy to feel the love - at home.
Rooms which are cosy, cherishing and cosseting are as good as a hug on a cold winter’s day, while those dressed with tactile ‘touch-me’ textures and sensual curves seduce the senses.
Similarly, while love comes in all shapes and sizes, so do settings, and there are several looks to fall for, which could appeal if you’re flirting, infatuated or totally committed to a romantic decor choice.
If all things amour set your heart racing, be inspired this February 14 and use the red of those classic love tokens, hearts and roses, as a decor cue. Pastel pinks and pretty touches are for those with a head-over-heels crush on fashionable boudoir style, while neutral tones, skilfully embellished with decorative accents, are so subtle that they have a timeless appeal.
So don’t wait for love to come knocking - simply romance the rooms!
Forever associated with ‘girly’ girls, those blushing, pink shades are for those who love all things flirty and feminine.
“Pink velvets, shimmering glass and the sheen of fashionable metallics capture the new romantic spirit,” says Stephanie Chen, director of Marks & Spencer’s home division.
“A sumptuous and indulgent collection of statement pieces play a key role in our new collection for homes. Traditional touches in ceramic and lace create a soft, feminine mood, ending on a vibrant range of pretty pastel colour pops in modern digi-prints and chic classic styles.
“A combination of decadent pink velvet and striking copper conjures an elegant yet chic look, that is the epitome of the trend for 2015.”
HEARTFELT TOUCHES: Make a commitment by colouring walls with pale Powder Pink from Dulux’s MixLab, £24.49 for 2.5L of emulsion. Vintage declarations of love feature on Coloroll Love Letters Old Rose Wallpaper, £7.99 a roll, The Range, which embodies old-fashioned courtship.
There’s nowhere more suitable for romance than the bedroom, and this space should be a cocoon where relaxation and seduction is easy. Naturally, a well-dressed bed is essential, and Emma Bridgewater’s new Hearts & Flowers bedlinen set is particularly appropriate in pale pink and white. Double Duvet Cover, £55, available from mid-March (visit www.ashleywildegroup.co.uk for stockists).
Grace a bedroom or living room with a shapely Bethany Armchair, which can be upholstered in a dusky pink Conte velvet, from £699, Marks & Spencer. If that’s in danger of turning the bank balance an uncomfortable shade of red, snap up a heart-shaped Magenta Faux Fur Cushion, £35, Helen Moore.
TOKEN GESTURE: Love is in the air this month, so heighten it with the potent scent of Fresh Cut Roses, from Yankee Candle’s room fragrance collection. Pillar Candle, from £14.99.
Red’s not for the faint-hearted, as its rich shades can overpower. But allow it star in a pure white room, and it will leave no doubt of your love of drama.
“Red is undoubtedly the most dynamic colour in the spectrum,” says Marianne Shillingford, creative director for Dulux. “We are drawn to it as it attracts attention and promises excitement with an edge of danger. Whether it’s a little red dress, a lipstick, roses or a sport’s car, this colour always has impact.
“That’s because all colours have wavelengths, similar to sound, and each has a distinctive characteristic. As red has the longest wavelength, it could be described in sound terms as mimicking a pounding heart or a beating drum, and stimulates the appetite for everything, including love and passion.
“Remember also that bursts of passion are exciting in a relationship - and bold colours enliven rooms. Consider painting a piece of furniture in your favourite red shade, and add pops of red - ‘kisses’ - in accessories.”
HEARTFELT TOUCHES: A sofa’s a vital ingredient for that classic romantic movie scene; open fire, candlelight and a sumptuous sofa. A Hermione Fabric Sofa, upholstered in Designer’s Guild deep red velvet, currently from £1,299, Darlings of Chelsea, is a luxury piece at an affordable price. If you’re short on space, or don’t want to share the love, opt for an equally desirable plump, buttoned Opulence Armchair in cranberry, from £799, DFS.
Heart-shaped accessories may abound at this time of year, but avoid the naff and predictable - there are more quirky, interesting pieces around.
My favourites include a dark pink heart-shaped Marquee Light, £120, Bhs, available from February 21. A Nick Walker Ceramic Love Va Plate, £60, House of Fraser, is a Royal Doulton Limited Edition, and smart enough for the wall as well as the table. Fornasetti is a favourite with scented candle connoisseurs, as its jar designs are as impressive as its fragrances. Lavender, thyme and cedarwood scent the Labbra Candle, presented in a jar decorated with red lips, framed by monochrome squares, £99, The Conran Shop.
TOKEN GESTURE: Ignore over-priced, over-crowded restaurants and opt for intimate dining at home. Appeal to the eye as well as the tummy, with Sainsbury’s Heart-shaped Spotty Dinnerware. Plate, £8, Sainsbury’s (available February).
Pink, in-your-face reds and frills and flounces will fill you with horror if you’re devoted to neutrals, so instead opt for a refreshed romantic vibe with an edge.
“Subtlety is the name of the game,” says Alison Cork, founder of online interiors company, Alison At Home. “If you have the option of decorating from scratch, emulate a Scandinavian, shabby chic look, with shades of grey or white panelling for walls and white-painted furniture.
“Just hint at romance with delicate details, such as cream, grey or green floral designs, and accessorise with wooden blocks spelling out the word ‘love’.Tactile and sensual fabrics like velvets, faux fur, mohair and silks will ramp up the snuggle-factor.”
HEARTFELT TOUCHES: Do a supermarket sweep at Tesco and you’ll fall in love with its Modern Romance collection. Photographic floral prints, and rose pink and mint tones are all on-trend, and three gems for the trolley are a Sienna Watercolour Floral Print Duvet Set, currently on sale from £12; Modern Romance Rose Mint Cushion, and a pink and white Beautiful Word Cushion proclaiming ‘Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful’, £8 each.
Even if you’re not soppy, you still want to get the message across. Wooden Type Face Blocks, spelling out the word ‘Love’, £8.95, Live Laugh Love, get straight to the point. Smarten up seating with a Mohair Throw in lavender grey, £99, Alison At Home. Finally, serve late-night coffee in a Heart emblazoned Heart 8 Cup Cafetiere, £19.50, Marks & Spencer; he’ll soon get the hint!
TOKEN GESTURE: Switch on romance with a lit up Party Illuminations Love Sign, £16.50, Talking Tables.
Alison At Home: 020 7087 2907/www.alisonathome.com
Ashley Wilde: www.ashleywilde.com
Bhs: 0344 411 6000/www.bhs.co.uk
The Chandelier & Mirror Company: 01892 541 355/www.chandeliersandmirrors.co.uk
The Conran Shop: 0844 848 4000/www.conranshop.co.uk
Dar Lighting: 01295 672 200/www.darlighting.co.uk
Darlings of Chelsea: 020 7371 5745/darlingsofchelsea.co.uk
DFS: 0808 149 3872/www.dfs.co.uk .
Helen Moore: 01884 860 900/www.helenmoore.com
House Of Fraser: 0870 160 7270/www.houseoffraser.co.uk
Live Laugh Love: 01342 842 599/www.livelaughlove.co.uk
Marks & Spencer: 0333 014 8000/www.marksandspencer.com
Red Candy: 0121 224 7728/www.redcandy.co.uk
Talking Tables: 020 7627 6767/www.talkingtables.co.uk
The Range: 0845 026 7598/www.therange.co.uk
Yankee Candle: www.yankeecandle.co.uk