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Designing Romance Into Your Decor

This article is for guys who think about romance only one day a year-Valentine's Day. Think beyond rose petals on a bedspread and chocolates under pillows. Whether you're married and living in a big house or are a bachelor in an apartment, it's easy and inexpensive to incorporate pleasing touches that can enhance your love life. Some of the ideas may even help woo buyers if you choose to sell.

Sharon Baldoni, an interior designer and Feng Shui practitioner who lives near Jacksonville, says two is a powerful number when creating a romantic space.

"Bring in pairs of things-such as two figurines, two candles, a pair of vases, or a vase with two flowers," Baldoni says.

Candlelight adds romance any time of the year, especially combine with pleasing scents. The candles will provide a pleasant aroma any time of day and set a romantic mood when the lights are out.

Baldoni recommends doing away with fluorescent lighting.

"Fluorescent lighting is for offices and grocery stores," she says.

Anne Guertin, a lighting expert for Sylvania, suggests turning off overhead lighting, which often is harsh and kills romance. Replace these lights with table lamps or lanterns, which add eye-level, flattering light.

She also recommends reducing your bulbs' wattage. Instead of a 100-watt bulb, opt for a more mood-enhancing 40-watt bulb.

For even more romance, both Baldoni and Guertin say you should consider colored-light bulbs. Amber tones convey warmth and comfort; soft reds and pinks suggest passion.

You can also use pink or warm-colored shades, says Baldoni, which soften your light and create a sense of comfort.

She also suggests dimmer switches to provide greater control over lighting schemes.

Men are dealing with masculine tastes, so when they add a few softer features, such as curtains or wall fabrics, they are welcoming in feminine energy, Baldoni says. "You don't want to go overboard and become effeminate," she says, but a little intention goes a long way.

"Don't be afraid of fabric," she advises. "The softening effect of curtains is very powerful."

Chad Welch of DarrenChad Furniture in Atlanta, says any interior space can become more romantic by rearranging the furniture. Consider a living room, often the most unused room in a house.

"The biggest mistake that many homeowners and designers make is what I call 'airport seating'-or arranging furniture square around a cocktail table to ensure that nobody will sit there," he says. "Most people prefer symmetry and parallel and perpendicular lines in their homes, but that's stiff and boring. Arranging furniture on an angle stimulates the creative part of our brain, and creativity resides in the same place that sensuality and romanticism dwell."

The old-fashioned rule is that white makes a room look bigger, and push the furniture against the wall for more space," Baldoni says. "Those are no-nos for romance."

She suggests pulling furniture out away from the walls.

"You want the energy to surround your furniture rather than just flow past one side."

She also suggests arranging your living room for conversation, with a love seat or oversized chair for two. It should be facing the door, not facing a view, so when you enter, the arrangement invites you to sit and share.

Julie Mulligan, a floral designer with 1-800-flowers.com, suggests picking flowers that last more than a few days and placing them in attractive containers that are artistic works on their own.

If you have a green thumb, consider live plants. If you don't, even beautiful, artificial plants in an artistic container have a softening effect that enhance romance, Baldoni says.

Whether it's the bedroom or another room, nothing helps create romance as much as a neat space.

"Getting rid of clutter is key," says Baldoni. "The whole house needs to be organized and neat."

Get a little closer: Adding the right touches to a home – from picture frames to fabrics to the furniture arrangement – can create a sense of romanticism to be enjoyed all year long. - photo/Nuheat