1. Create An Intimate Space
Nothings says romantic like a cozy nook – a little getaway that makes you feel far removed from the chaos of the outside world. The hollow of a low-limbed tree. A garden teepee. A barn loft. A luxurious canopy bed. Whatever space you love, let it hug you. I tend to love the little spaces nature already provides, but you can create a tiny world of wonderment just in the corner of your living room.
The things we marveled at as children still hold true as adults, I believe. Think about the little caves and forts you staked as your own and the countless blanket forts you built as a child. Take that comforting nostalgia to heart and don’t be afraid to build your adult version of a blanket fort!
In this romantic scene, I used my ever favorite canopy mosquito net. I did once have it above my bed, but now I use that thing about everywhere. I’ll tie it up in the trees or tack it to the corner of room. It’s a marvelous thing to have on hand if you’re a creative spirit. You can find one like mine here. Thick curtains can be used if you want a more moody, perhaps even medieval, romantic scene. But the sheer of white netting is quite alluring as it allows light to dance and provides an airy, yet intimate, setting.
2. Set the Mood with Lighting
Lighting is the most important aspect when creating a mood, especially a romantic Valentine’s mood. Your goal is to make the scene look ethereal, as if light is coming from all directions without being able to easily detect the source. Candlelight is beautiful, but often times it doesn’t emit as much light as you’d expect. That’s why I love a mix of candlelight and incandescent string lights. When it comes to candles, large groupings are more effective than sparse couplings. And for string lights, make sure you choose warm lights over cool to give you a soft glow. I have a huge ever-growing collection of basic Christmas lights, but I also use fairy lights for almost every occasion. These are what I call fairy lights. They are perfect because 1) the wire is water-proof, a feature I enlist quite often for romantic floral arrangements and outdoor decor 2) they come in a large variety of colors 3) they are so small and flexible that you can use them in ways that you can’t with standard string lights.
In this scene you should note the layering of light. With the way we live our day-to-day lives, we are accustomed to usually just overhead and table lighting – what we’ll call top and middle lighting. Adding in bottom light, or floor light, can make a big difference as you can see here with the lights snaking around the floor of the scene. So, in this picture you can see top light (the unseen overhead light), the middle light (the tabletop candles), and the bottom light (the string lights). To create otherworldly beauty, you can go two steps further by adding light between both the top and middle layers and the middle and bottom layers. Essentially, you’re breaking the scene into 5 different planes: the top, the top-middle, the true middle, the middle-bottom, and the bottom. For this scene the top-middle light is coming from the hanging crystal chandelier, a placement that always looks very bohemian to me. And the middle-bottom light is coming from within the mound of pillows. This aspect is subtle but transformative.
All of this might seem very technical, but my greatest joy in life is being able to create something that is able to transport you to a different world. And sometimes all that takes is good lighting.
3. Invoke the Senses
The most thrilling experiences are often those where all senses are engaged. Think about a place that has made you awe-struck, and how your first encounter with this place took your breath away as if it was too much to take in all at once. I live for moments like that. When all senses are engaged, you feel most alive. I guess that’s what it means to be human, doesn’t it?
Think about the big picture, but go beyond sight. Get creative with the sounds, the movement, the smells, and the textures. Invoke sound through music or the comings and goings of nature’s creatures. Invoke movement from the dancing candlelight or the small swirlings of the creek eddies. Give attention to smell. Campfires, cologne, and magnolias are my personal favorites. For texture, nothing beats soft blankets and pillows of all shapes and sizes. But even the coolness of a shaded patch of grass can prove to gladden the heart. I believe it is most important now, in this technological age of being tied to our devices, that we disengage by becoming engaged with our surroundings. Creating an invigorating experience for your loved one spells romance.
4. Prepare a Special Menu
Certainly eating is an activity that engages the senses and makes you feel more connected to those who share in that activity with you. So, it’s not hard to imagine that many of our typical images of romance involve food – like a couple slicing their wedding cake, or sharing a bowl of spaghetti, or gifting chocolate for Valentine’s day. You don’t have to be so cliché, but expressing your love through food is a fast track to someone’s heart…or is that just me??
Prepare a menu that is special. Maybe it’s a collection of all your loved one’s favorite foods. Or maybe it’s a themed menu – one that takes more effort than throwing whatever you have in the kitchen together. I’m a dessert gal myself – as you can tell from this romantic scene. The desserts shown in the picture are some of my favorites for a romantic setting. The cake is a red walnut and rose cake adorned with red roses, so it’s unabashedly romantic. And there’s beet ice cream in white chocolate bowls for the avant-garde hipsters. The color alone will have a girl swooning. And lastly, there’s a raspberry panna cotta for the sophisticated gourmand. It’s silky and delicate – the perfect Valentine’s treat. Click the links below for the recipes.
Here’s a roundup of all the essentials in making the most splendid romantic Valentine’s setting!