Ah, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us.
Favourite day of (most) couples, possibly the most dreaded one of the year for singles up and down the country. Hijacked by card companies with offerings of cards for everybody from our grandparents to our dog, taken advantage of by supermarkets with cuddly toys that look and feel like fire hazards, and marketed by chocolate companies with hearts wrapped in garish red foil, it’s enough to turn even the most romantic person into a sneering cynic. Have I put you off yet? No? Good. Because this is not what this is about. This is about creating a romantic atmosphere at home that is personal and that uses clichés in a way that suits you.
There’s often an expectation of perfect, big and overblown gestures and it’s this expectation that can quickly make us forget what it’s all about: two people. The more you try to come up with the perfect setting for the perfect evening, the less you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself and the company you’re in. So, first things first: relax! Don’t try to plan every tiny little detail.
Setting the scene
Now to planning a romantic and relaxed setting at home. At the risk of mentioning the obvious: turn off those bright ceiling lights. Small light sources are a lot more flattering and romantic. If you’re looking to take the romantic lighting a step further, get the candles out. Group large pillar candles together for a lovely display that can mimic an open fire and will also give you a little more light than just a single candle on a table. Now, I have encountered people who just don’t like candles. In that case, strings of simple, white fairy lights will give your room a warm glow and you don’t need to worry about falling asleep while they’re still on.
Music for the soul
Next comes the music. If you really, truly like your Barry White and special Valentine’s Day CDs with 80s power ballads, then that’s fine, however, this is one thing (apart from certain sweets) that can fairly swiftly turn from romantic to sickly. A far better idea then would be to choose music that is beautiful and relaxing whilst not drawing attention to itself for all the wrong reasons. Take a peek at this collection of classical music for inspiration. Classical music played in the background provides a romantic atmosphere without being intrusive.
A floral effect
I know red roses are supposed to be THE flower for Valentine’s Day with petals strewn all over the house, but when everybody does the same thing, it loses some of the romance. Why does it have to be roses? A beautiful bouquet of ranunculus looks just as stunning and is way more subtle and up to date.
The little things
There are, of course, other small details that can make Valentine’s Day at home just a little more special than a usual evening. If you have “special” china or beautiful wine glasses that you don’t use on a daily basis, now is the right time to get them out. Cover the table with a beautiful table cloth and use linen napkins instead of paper ones.
The perfect scent
Scent is a big sense and an important component to setting the mood at home. I know I’ve already touched on the subject of candles for light, but they’re also great for making your home smell romantic. Choose exotic ones like jasmine, ylang ylang or sandalwood to set a relaxed and sensual mood in your home.
Why not decorate your windows whilst you’re at it? I’m not saying you should rip down your blinds or curtains, but just a few pins and panels of sheer fabric can help transform a room into a romantic grown-up den a little like your own, private hideaway. You could also use the fabric to drape a simple canopy over the bed…
The food of love
Now you have your home all ready and set up, there’s just one thing left: chill a bottle of wine or bubbly and cook a meal that doesn’t take five hours and stresses you out needlessly. Opt for something simple – romantic doesn’t mean you have to suddenly try out something exotic you’ve never cooked before – that makes you feel confident and relaxed and lets your partner know you care. And that’s what it’s really all about. Letting the other person know you love them and care enough to make an effort. Though this shouldn’t be confined to one day of the year, right?
Wishing you a wonderful and romantic Valentine’s Day.
Carole Poirot is a freelance photographer and stylist who lives and works in London. Originally from France, she has also lived in Germany and uses these influences to help inform her own style and advice. Her ideas are also published on her blog at mademoisellepoirot.com.