Home & Garden

Add everyday romance to your home

Valentine's Day is lots of fun, but why reserve the romance for just one day of the year? It's so easy to make your daily life more romantic just by adding a few special touches to your decorating. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.

Flowers aren't just for Valentine's Day. So treat yourself to a lovely bouquet of cash-and-carry flowers every time you're at the grocery store, whether it's a bundle of sweetheart roses or a mixed arrangement.

One of my favorite ways to use these inexpensive grocery-store bouquets is to separate out the flowers, trim the stems of each very short and place a few blooms apiece in several small vases. Tuck the little bouquets into unexpected places, like on a bookshelf display, on your kitchen windowsill or counter, next to your nightstand or on your dining table.

Whether tonight's fare is pot roast or meat loaf, daily dinners don't have to be ho-hum. Make midweek dinner a delight by adding a few romantic touches to your table. If you're in the mood to go big, surprise your family by pulling out the china, silver and crystal. Or just add a lovely serving piece here and there. Put your table water in a fine glass decanter with matching glasses. Or, pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly and serve it chilled in a lovely silver ice bucket.

I love to use discreet nudes in decorating, especially in private spaces like an upstairs bathroom or bedroom. My favorites are those that leave lots to the imagination.

Spoil yourself with beautiful sheets trimmed in lace. Shop the white sales for a lovely set, or if you're crafty, get some plain white sheets and embellish them yourself with ribbons, lace or whatever fanciful trim your imagination can dream up. I know it sounds like a small thing, but when you head to bed after a long, hard day, and you see those lovely linens waiting for you, you feel like a princess.

Isn't it wonderful to be at an upscale hotel or quaint bed-and-breakfast where they serve your morning coffee from a silver carafe? You can do the same thing at home. Instead of heading to the coffeepot and filling up that same old stained and chipped coffee mug you've used for years, make your morning caffeine ritual special. Pour the pot of coffee into a stylish urn. Purge your cupboard of every ugly mug you own, and, instead, sip from a darling china cup. Instead of pulling packs of sugar or sweetener straight from the box or pouring your creamer from the carton in the fridge, dig out that wonderful cream and sugar set you have buried in your cupboard and put it to use every day.

Raise your hand if you have hundreds of wonderful photos of loved ones stored on your camera's memory card, in your computer or a disc. This week, resolve to print your favorites and display them in your home in lovely frames. Tuck one on your bedside table, another on a shelf in your kitchen and another on your desk at work.

No one likes to do the dishes. But it's more fun when you keep your dish soap in a pretty decanter. A friend used this idea to turn her laundry room, of all places, into a showplace. She put her liquid fabric softener in a crystal decanter and her powdered soap in an apothecary jar, using a silver scoop to measure it out. She placed both containers on top of her washer on a lovely silver tray. I've done something similar with my cats' food — I store the cat chow on my kitchen counter in a pretty glass jar. I've even taken this idea one step further by feeding these spoiled kitties in adorable blue-and-white china pet-food bowls corralled on a silver tray. The cats don't care a fig about how their food is served, but it sure makes my kitchen look nicer.

In addition, if you like to keep functional things like boxes of tissues out where they are in view, make them more attractive by finding a nice tissue-box cover. Instead of lining up unattractive bottles of cooking oil or vinegars, put them in a fun galvanized tin container or an English footbath so they look nicer. And take that pile of mail on your kitchen desk or table and stow it in a pretty bowl until you have time to deal with it.