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    The look of love: Designers offer tips for making your home more romantic year-round

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    FaGO — Valentine’s Day is the one day a year when even the most unromantic people attempt to muster up the slightest bit of charm. There will be chocolates, cards, food, drinks and for the really ambitious, maybe even some form of decorations. Flowers, balloons and other ornamentation may be brought out for the day.

    But what about the rest of the year? What about those people who want to fill their lives and homes with the look of love? True love doesn’t fade on Feb. 15, so how can you decorate with an everlasting love in mind?

    We asked local designers and decorators how to add elements of affection and even arousal to a living space, and not just the bedroom.

    Kick back and relax

    Living rooms and family rooms may not be the first rooms you think of when you think of Valentine’s Day, but since that’s where people spend a fair amount of time, why not make it a warmer place?

    “Switch out your coffee table for an ottoman,” says Monica Hart of Monica Hart Interior Design. “That makes it easy if you’re cuddling up to someone on a sofa, you can put your feet up on a nice soft ottoman rather than a hard table.”

    She says you can customize the upholstery to get the desired look.

    To help soften things, Hart recommends using down or alternative down pillows on chairs and sofas.

    “They squish just perfectly, providing that extra comfort if you’re going to snuggle in and watch a movie,” she says, adding that down lasts a long time.

    Julie Alin, interior decorator at Scheels Home & Hardware, likes pillows with more of a reflective surface.

    “Pillows with glimmer or metallic on them are always a little more pretty. They’ve got a little shine to them, especially in candlelight,” she says.

    “Soft-textured throws are a must in every home,” Hart says. “They serve several purposes, adding a pop of color or pattern on neutral sofa or chair. Plus, they provide coziness and warmth during the cold months.”

    Alin suggests faux fur, with varieties ranging from mink to fox. “They’re really luxurious.”

    Shag carpeting is making a comeback, says Julie Alin of Scheels Home & Hardware. Special to The Forum

    Shag carpeting is making a comeback, says Julie Alin of Scheels Home & Hardware. Special to The Forum

    “Shag rugs are big these days,” Alin said. “We love shags these days. The longer, the better. We love to be able to take your shoes off after work and sink your feet into a nice plush shag. It’s just a great feeling, like pampering yourself in a way.”

    And sometimes a few flowers can go a long way.

    “Fresh flowers for sure,” Alin says. “Every day of the week, we should always grab fresh flowers at the grocery store to brighten our space. You are worth it.”

    “We absolutely love our floral arrangement. It’s not your everyday floral arrangement,” says Katie Schiltz, who runs the home decor business The White House Co. with her sister Sam Klinkhammer. “Flowers add romance every time of the year.”

    Turn on the romance

    A mood can be set with something as simple as how the lighting is set, Alin says. She likes uplighting, using lamps that cast light up a wall rather than beams shining down from a ceiling.

    “Uplight is kind of a mood-setter. It can be kind of romantic because it will diffuse light,” she says.

    The lamps don’t have to be the standard floor variety. Alin likes the shadows the lights can create.

    “You could uplight behind your furniture or behind plants,” she says.

    “Use dimmers to adjust mood and lighting, or if you have a three-way lamp, use the lowest setting,” Hart says. “Dimmers are a great way to change the mood of a room. That creates a romantic environment and also saves on energies.” She adds that dimmers can be an easy home repair project.

    Dimmer switches are an easy home fix to set the mood with lighting. Special to The Forum

    Dimmer switches are an easy home fix to set the mood with lighting. Special to The Forum

    Light my fire

    “Candles are a great way to set a romantic ambiance,” says Hart, who suggests using them in and around the fireplace, on dining room tables and in the master bedroom and master bathroom.

    She likes newer battery-operated, flameless candles. “They’ve come a long way with them. Now they have ones that flicker and move. They’re fantastic. I use these all the time when I design in people’s homes.”

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