Love in the Time of Recession

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Long-time New York Interior Designer Leona Gaita offers cost-friendly decorating tips for turning your domicile into a romantic get-away, and celebrating at home this Valentine's Day.

Going out is not romantic - you're going to a crowded noisy restaurant, you're on a schedule, one of you has to be the designated driver, and so on

As the economic crisis grows more worrisome, more couples are hesitant to splurge on a night out, even on perennial date nights like Valentine's Day. "Going out is not romantic - you're going to a crowded noisy restaurant, you're on a schedule, one of you has to be the designated driver, and so on" quips Leona Gaita, interior design specialist at Gaita Interiors of Larchmont, New York and Westchester County areas. "With the right atmosphere, a night at home can be far more intimate and memorable."

How can one achieve this romantic environment? To spice up your home, and your love life, Leona suggests making some smart, mood-enhancing additions. Most will be small investments that you can continue to enjoy long after the holiday is over.

Lighting - It's all about pleasing the senses. The first rule for creating a romantic environment - tone down the lighting! Every room should have dimmers installed. Bright, glaring overhead lights are not sexy; soft, ambient (not to mention energy-saving) lighting is key. This is a long term investment that is not costly: a dimmer will cost about $20 to $30, and it can install be installed by oneself. Another trick for romantic lighting - change from white lampshades to softly colored, earth-toned lamp shades for a more flattering illumination.

Living Room - For a more intimate and cozy Valentine's dinner, make your living room into a dining room conducive to relaxation and romance. Place a faux fur throw on the floor next to a gaming table, and voila! Put it next to the fireplace and you've got a night to remember - try duplicating THAT in a restaurant!

Don't have a fireplace? In the past, adding one was a major renovation, if even possible. Now there are many relatively inexpensive vent-less portable fireplaces available, as well as eco-friendly. It's surprising how lovely many of them are, and there's no surer way to add a romantic feel to a room than to light a roaring fire.

A cashmere throw is wonderful way to show your sweetheart how you feel. Sensual, cozy and luxurious, a high quality throw makes a lasting gift of love, while adding a splash of warm color to the room. Choose red, deep raspberry, or purple to stay in the spirit of Valentine's Day. Another way to delight the sense of touch is to bring in some soft-filled velvet pillows, in a range of different colors. Try a cherry red and chocolate brown combination - very sexy, almost edible!

Bedroom - Try switching to lacy white bedding: it's romantic while being practical, since white bedding is available at all price points, and easy to launder. Layer it with your cashmere throw and one crushed velvet heart-shaped pillow. A fabric canopy for the bed is easy to put up, using fabric panels and rods. An upholstered wall behind the bed makes a cushiony, luxurious substitute for a wood headboard.

For the big day, the traditional additions of flowers, scented candles, soft music, and a good bottle of wine will complete an intimate mini-staycation for two. Dim the lights…who cares about the recession!

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Michael D'Elicio
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