Make room for romance

Love is in the air - and it’s not just because Valentine’s Day was this week! There’s a seductive, sensual trend sweeping our homes as we satisfy a yearning to feel cherished and cosy while the cold, economic storms rage

Love is in the air - and it’s not just because Valentine’s Day was this week! There’s a seductive, sensual trend sweeping our homes as we satisfy a yearning to feel cherished and cosy while the cold, economic storms rage

outside.

“A new romantic style is emerging which is in tune with the times,” says Sara Norrman, co-author of Romantic Style. “After a hard-hitting recession, many of us are rejecting a frenzied consumerist lifestyle and want rooms that seduce us with their character and comfort.”

Appropriately, there’s no hard and fast rules for this style, according to Norrman. You can literally follow your taste (and your heart) with looks that are inspired by the theme - whether that’s indulging a passion for feminine

florals and pretty antiques, embracing elegant curvaceous furniture and pale, floaty fabrics, or flirting with smooth modern furniture softened by tactile finishing touches.

“If you’ve been struck by a longing to soften up your living space after decades of strict minimalist trends, there’s no need to feel dejected at the prospect of getting rid of your modular sofas or space-age chairs,” reassures Norrman.

“You haven’t got to start from scratch just because you hanker after a prettier place to live. There are plenty of ways to conjure this look by using only a few touches, maybe re-arranging furniture or displaying accessories, which will work whatever you live in, from a state-of-the-art new build to a grand Victorian villa.”

Possessions, once shunned as unfashionable clutter, are being welcomed back to the heart of the home, says Norrman. “One of the best things about romantic style is that it allows you to show off the things you love,” she says. “Take another look at those treasures acquired over the years that you may have hidden away for fear of failing the taste test.

“These are essential ingredients in romantic settings and work beautifully if they’re displayed wisely. Even the humblest items can be combined into an arresting feature, whether they’re collections of vintage china, old postcards and costume jewellery or modern glassware.”

Surely even the hardest heart would find it difficult to resist rooms that are romantic havens? Follow our guide to falling in love with your home.

Vintage romantic

If you’re a lover of all things floral, soft and feminine, you can really give your leanings free rein, says Norrman. In a romantic home, blooms can appear in all shapes and forms, whether they’re the fresh variety in vases or blowsily adorning furnishing fabrics and linens.

“Start by softening up your rooms with the three staples: pretty fabrics, fresh flowers and atmospheric lighting,” she advises. “Cover a sleek sofa in pastel-tinted cushions and strokeable throws, and heap glass and metal dining tables with bunches of peonies, roses and wild flowers.”

“None of these things cost the earth, and all will add instant glamour and softness.” Sparkling chandeliers can also be complemented by a profusion of tea lights, and groups of coloured candles in glass holders, she says.

Modern romantic

This crisp look, with a pale colour scheme and bursts of colour, could be an ideal choice if you share your home. Conjuring up a girly, flouncy setting might spell the end of an affair if it’s totally at odds with your partner’s decorative taste!

“Merging two tastes in one household is seldom easy, especially if one person has a predilection for cool, contemporary pieces, while the other wants to cover every inch of their home with silks, frills, scented candles and scatter cushions,” acknowledges Norrman.

“In fact, the modern romantic scheme is almost the interiors equivalent of a marriage guidance counsellor, encouraging compromise without either party giving up on their personal taste.” For domestic harmony, she advises introducing a more seductive mood by choosing furniture that has romantic connotations but is in contemporary

style - such as a streamlined four-poster or a glossy lacquered dresser. Zingy red, a traditional Valentine’s Day colour, would also add drama to any room without being overly feminine.

Heart-felt effects

It’s fun to enter into the spirit of Valentine’s Day and serious romantics won’t be able to resist heart-warming treats for rooms. “Think about the kind of setting you want to achieve, whether flirty and sensual or cosy and warm,” advises leading interior designer Katharine Pooley.

“Soft and tactile fabrics such as silk, lace, tulle, organza and chiffon exude an essence of flirty femininity, while layering fabrics such as cashmere and furs creates a soft, cosy, inviting sanctuary.” But she says it’s just as important to pay attention to small details. “Red’s a classic choice but if you choose a more subtle colour, it can look far more chic. It’s the overall sensory and visual experience that’s just as important in creating the mood of a room.”