We live in a new world. We have left the old one behind. We now can be, in our minds, whatever we choose to be, whenever we choose to be it and, sometimes through print or other media, whoever we choose to be—or not to be.
We also can choose what we want to do, and feel the way we choose
to feel about it. This is the essence of romance. It is to capture
a mood, a moment, an experience, a perspective.
Romance is a state of mind.
THE VERITABLE NEED FOR ROMANCE
Romance may or may not involve other people. It is a fantasy world
that can be relished alone or with a loved one far and away from
the rush of society. It may be a part of a relationship with a significant
other, or it may be a way that you feel when you are alone. It is
healing and soul-satisfying. It can renew and refresh, sustain and
Romance is a worthy goal for many interiors today for a host of
• We need the escape of romance because the realities of life
are too harsh. One can only face the possibility of war with part
of the soul. Other parts of us simply refuse to deal with the fears,
risks and inevitabilities of this uncertain and insecure time in
which we live.
We often live in fear of money (especially the lack of it) and the
vulnerability or disappearance of our retirement investments due
to circumstances beyond our control. We fear road rage, burglary
and assault. We fear cancer, AIDS, heart disease and deteriorating
health in general. Sometimes we feel insecure in our personal relationships
with romantic partners or other family members. We even worry about
the loyalty of friends and co-workers. Many fear death. In today’s
America, we have entirely too much to worry about! We need an escape
from all this emotional concern if we are to remain in or regain
a state of emotional health.
• We need a release from the pressures and tensions of work.
It’s a bit inhumane to live in a world that is focused on
productivity, the bottom-line dollar and dealing with often-cranky
people with unrealistic expectations who may lack ethical responsibility.
We cannot continue to function in these circumstances 24 hours a
day, seven days a week.
Numerous studies have shown that people who take time to rest, relax,
play, laugh and turn off the phone have more energy, happier attitudes
and more desire to come back to work than those who cannot leave
their work behind.
• The brain must have time to process information subliminally.
When we take time for some form of romance or emotional escape we
allow the conscious mind to rest, thus turning over problems and
concerns to the subconscious. That part of the brain does not seem
to tire and burnout as does the conscious mind. Often solutions
will come when that conscious state is relaxed with a pleasant diversion.
• A good night’s sleep often accomplishes something
similar in recharging the brain and fortifying emotional energy.
Bedrooms that are somewhat ethereal, relaxing, lovely and, yes,
romantic help the mind to relax enough to rest better.
CREATING THE ROMANTIC INTERIOR—SIMPLE
What kind of interior is romantic? The answer is as broad as the
question “What is romance?” For example, if a client
views a romantic space as a fine dining experience in a softly elegant
atmosphere, then settings such as the exquisitely lovely dining
space (shown on opposite page) fit the bill. Hard materials are
contrasted with the softness of sheer fabric at the window and the
use of slightly puckered silk for the impeccably beautiful table
cover. These are coupled with stately and artistic table settings
to evoke a desire for intimate conversation and to linger over mouth-watering
The sophisticated interiors of our new century often include a sleek
“high style” approach rather than a cluttered, cozy
appearance. We are more confident in the use of clean, bold interior
directions today than in the recent past. More designers and clients
alike are determined to create looks that are unique and individualized.
It is also true that great, yet simple design is often more challenging
to accomplish than interiors filled with pattern. This is because
in more spare interiors every item is open to scrutiny, whereas
in busy interiors camouflage conceals detail. For many people today,
simplicity with impact from only a few items is considered much
more romantic than the former Victorian eclectic approach.
Discerning design surely is a hallmark of this new Post-Modern era
we are now in, but this does not preclude the use of decorative
fabrics. Many beautiful fabrics are the basis for romantic rooms.
Always have been, always will be.
Living rooms and bedrooms are other areas where a sense of romance
is high on the priority list. The simplicity approach holds true
here also, because we live in a world where de-stressing is a means
The first bedroom setting shown on the previous page is filled with
simple, sculptural forms and subtle textures with no apparent pattern.
The romance comes from the effects of specialty lighting and the
softly filtered look of automated vertical blinds. There is no high-contrast
here, but mid-tones and lighter neutrals, which give a sense of
peace and calm. The ability to relax in a spacious bedroom is an
emotionally sensible approach to romance.
TAKE ME AWAY!
Another approach to romance is through the lavish use of textiles.
In the Empire-styled bedroom with its masculine wooden furniture
shown here, there is a tongue-in-cheek use of fabric. Thematic-inspired
fabrics are effective for establishing romance because they can
take the occupant to distant or exotic places where time appears
to stand still, where cares are left far behind.
The theme for the palm frond wall covering and fabric bed applications
is inspired from tropical islands. The large-scale fronds and bits
of tantalizing red flowers successfully steal us away from any present
concerns. The experience of being lavishly enveloped in a fabric
of great artistic beauty is very romantic.
ROMANTIC DESIGN EQUALS FINE DESIGN
Excellent design is often made from elements that are exquisitely
beautiful, individually and collectively. Fabric is a key element,
and one that we as interior fashions professionals are best at providing.
This is especially true at the window, where fashionable treatments
should always appear soft in a romantic interior.
Fabric is a must for filtering light and establishing intimacy.
Fabric at the window softens every corner of a room, and nothing
like fabric can give shape, form and detail to the most important
light source—natural light.
Privacy also is a must for any romantic interior. Window coverings
must allow for desirable privacy, effective light-filtering and
nighttime security. No one can feel even slightly romantic where
privacy is lacking. Provide privacy first. Romance will follow.
J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at
Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including
Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction,
3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window
Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.