Interiors advice - creating a sensual environment
PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 January 2015
J LOAN 2012
Lakeland interior designer Alison Tordoff has some ideas for turning your home into a romantic retreat
My quest this month is to break away from the social vacuum created as technology takes over our daily lives with virtual interaction, and celebrate some real titivation to stimulate the senses. In other words, all praise to lovers and St Valentine.
Romance is all about stimulating the senses, of course (‘There she goes again,’ I hear you say) and here we might have something to learn from Neanderthal man, the first romantic guy. He had it all worked out.
So let’s get down to some Neanderthal basics; we need to get the combination right for our five senses. Each one is a trigger for creating a wonderful memory. For example, a real fire – as Neanderthal man knew well - can help relaxation and reduce blood pressure.
Not just supposition, it’s now medically proven. Scientists have discovered a link between a burning fire in the hearth and a ‘significant’ reduction in blood pressure. Flickering flames, combined with the crackle and roar of burning logs, possess a hypnotic calming effect. Fires also cement a bond between individuals sitting next to them. The University of Alabama study may also go a long way to explaining the recent surge in popularity of wood burning stoves, whose sales have risen 300 per cent in recent years.
And of course, fire also provides heat, light, a means of cooking and encourages people to gather and be sociable. The perfect ingredients for romance.
You can find the right setting for Valentine’s Day at a hydro spa, such as the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere, modern facilities and the essence of those Romantic poets who lived nearby – Coleridge, Wordsworth and friends.
The New Romantics, meanwhile, are tempting lovers by foraging for food and creating art on the dinner plate, like the young kitchen stars are doing at the Old Stamp House and the Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside.
Of course you could just stay home and hire a hot tub, surround it with candles, and make sure you have some warm towels to hand.
Short on cash but big on love? Invite him or her to dinner by sending a real love letter – not a text, not an email.
Set the table beautifully. Recreate a romantic restaurant feel, using crisp linen table cloths and napkins, add some sparkle with napkin rings, polished chrome goblets and silver candle holders. Flood the room with tealights.
Write your own poem or a special message around the edge of the plate using a Sharpie pen. Hold hands across the table. And maybe serve dinner wearing only an apron. The key to romance, you see, is being impulsive and aiming to surprise.
Alison Tordoff runs Fidget, the international award winning interior design company. She lives in Windermere with musician husband Richard, and children.