A little indulgence
Nobody can deny that life has completely altered in the last 12 months. Although the vast majority of the changes we have been forced to make have been negative, there have been some really significant positives. We have learned the importance of core values like kindness, respect and appreciation of and empathy with others. Underpinning all this is deep seated, real love. Love of family, love of friends, and love of life itself.
Our homes have also become so much more important to us, not only because of the amount of time we have been forced to spend there, but also possibility because of the security, both emotionally and physically, they give us.
February is traditionally viewed as the month of love and romance, and although I'm sure this year's Valentine's day will for most people be a much more low key affair than usual, I thought I'd use this month's editorial to talk about romantic rooms.
So what does the word Romantic conjure up in terms of interiors? Does it bring to mind a Jane Austen heroine, the Bohemian movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a Hollywood starlet’s boudoir in the 1930s? Well yes, all of that and much more. To me it’s everything to do with comfort, elegance and sumptuousness, but stopping slightly short of decadence. A romantic room should entice you to enter, and to want to linger there once you have. It should have a slightly dreamy feel. It can be overstated in parts, but not cluttered. It is the antithesis to my pet hate the minimalist interior. In fact (and I might just have invented a new word here), you could say it’s maximalist.
So how do we achieve this look and feel? Well, there are several ways to go. The thoughtful use of colour to set the mood is very important. In bedrooms you can really go to town with rich emeralds and taupes, hot gingers, passionate reds or vibrant aubergines. You can of course use these wonderful deep tones in living rooms too, but be careful, as the last thing you will want is to create a room that you absolutely love for six months or so but then become heartily sick of! As I’ve said before, be as indulgent with colour in a dining room as you like, but consider reining it back a bit in a sitting room. You can just as successfully create a stunningly romantic room using shades of neutrals, stones or creams.
Fabric is the real key. Use loads of it. Plains, textured weaves and patterns, if thoughtfully put together can look stunning!!! If simplicity is your bag, make your window treatment lined and interlined curtains with hand pinch pleated headings and plenty of fullness, hung from a substantial pole. Go a step further by adding a deep, padded pelmet instead of a pole. Layering also gives that dreamy romantic feel. A voluminous soft sheer under your curtains will not only give privacy, but will focus the attention inside the room, blotting out external distractions. Dumped curtains, or London length as they’re sometimes called, look opulent and romantic, but can be a bit of a pain to live with. It’s ok if they’re to be tied back and left as dress curtains, but they will need constant re-dressing if you’re going to use them on a regular basis.
If your romantic room in question is the living room, make sure you have large, comfy sofas with generous arms, and plenty of scatter cushions. These will not only soften the overall look, but will be great to snuggle up in. If it’s the bedroom, what about a fur throw on the bed, and once again a plethora of scatter cushions? A deep, velvet pile carpet is fabulous to bury your toes in, although some people find the footmarks that are always left too much trouble for everyday use. Multi-level lighting is essential to give a romantic feel. Use as many table and floor lamps as the room will take, along with any ceiling fittings, and make sure they’re all controllable on a dimmer.
Finally, add the all-important finishing touches. The sense of smell may not be utilised much in the world of interiors, but in creating a truly romantic room it most certainly is. Whilst a bedroom will probably naturally smell of its occupant’s favourite fragrance, albeit perfume or aftershave, a living room will need a little help. And for this you simply can’t beat fresh flowers!! Now if you’re a man reading this and you’re thinking of picking up a bunch of carnations at the local garage, may I say that really won’t cut it. I’m talking about a generous, lavish arrangement that will not only look fantastic, but whose aroma will evoke the most wonderful heady, romantic atmosphere.
We've all had a tough year, so come on, let's allow ourselves a bit of self-indulgent pampering.
John Biddell, John Charles Interiors
Live 24 7 magazine editorial - February 2021