Decorating for Romance in the Bedroom

By Bill Primavera

The Home Guru

The intended headline for this piece contained that short, sweet word that always catches our attention, especially when it involves the foibles of some of our politicians. But my wife suggested that I not use that word in headline in a family newspaper and further, she questioned whether the subject itself was at all suitable.

In my defense, I noted that if it weren’t for sex (oops, I mean, romance), none of us would be here. So, I think it’s a valid subject to explore as it relates to decorating in a way to encourage or at least support it.

As I see it, and as I’ve read in some of the blogs that have considered the subject, there are certain basic elements in creating a romantic environment for the setting in question, the bedroom.  Here’s The Home Guru’s somewhat censored list:

Privacy:  It’s important to feel tucked away from other inhabitants of the house, including the four legged kind, with a good lock on the door, and, of course, for privacy from the outside, blinds or window coverings are necessary, especially if your bedroom is on the first floor.

Lighting:  Over and above everything else, including a comfortable bed, there should be appropriate lighting, and it should be low and soft. That forgives a thousand sins. A New York Times reporter recently interviewed a decorator who was starting to hoard more flattering incandescent bulbs, feeling that the plug could be pulled at any moment in favor of more efficient, but less flattering florescent or LED lighting. And if you don’t have one, a dimmer might be installed.

Color:  Hues in the room should be warm rather than cool to set the mood.  Tones from the red or brown families, even dark chocolate, can make a room’s occupants feel completely embraced by their surroundings.

Sound:  I have one of those sound effect machines that produces sounds of nature that lull one to sleep, but a better option for romance is an iPod with a playlist engineered for romance. Look at what “Bolero” did for Dudley Moore in the movie “10.”

A fireplace:  Most people would agree that a fireplace is the most romantic feature in any room. But if you don’t have one in the bedroom, you might consider the new electric fireplaces that are so convincingly realistic. And, if it generates true heat, you can lower the temperature in the rest of the house and be cozy just cuddled up in your bedroom.

Warm flooring: If you don’t have wall to wall carpeting, but rather a hardwood floor, it’s a good idea to have a fluffy kind of throw rug on either side of the bed so that it’s not a cold shock to the feet when settling in with someone else’s feet.

The bed itself: I suggest that the most romantic bed is the old fashioned canopy type or any other design that involves draping from the ceiling. In previous centuries, bed draping provided protection from the cold, but it now suggests privacy on all sides. And here’s a tip about beds purchased for romance.  Never buy one with a footboard; it can prove inhibiting, even painful, especially for taller people, even if only for sleeping.

If the mattress is too firm, it can be murder on the back, and it’s hard to feel amorous when lying on a slab. But, one that’s too soft presents other problems relating to two people moving about easily in shared space. To the rescue are the new mattresses that can be adjusted for firmness, even providing different settings for each side of the bed.

Appliances: Besides the kind that can’t be mentioned in a family newspaper, there might be a small refrigerator for refreshments so that the flow of the evening won’t be interrupted by a trip to the kitchen. I remember reading that when Barbara Streisand was married to Elliott Gould, they kept a refrigerator as an end table so that she could enjoy coffee ice cream in bed.

Ashtray? As an afterthought, if this were written 25 years ago, I would have suggested having a cigarette box, lighter and ash tray on an end table because of the expectation we had at that time of what people most wanted afterwards. But most of us have given that up.  That is, it’s the smoking that we’ve given up.  A smoking-days acquisitions that my wife and I laugh about now was an ashtray with a bean bag bottom that could sit level on my chest in bed.

No matter the nature of your relationship, or even if you choose the single life, a quiet, romantic refuge for waking up or retiring can set the mood for anything that comes in between.

Bill Primavera is a licensed Realtor® (, affiliated with Coldwell Banker, and a marketing practitioner ( For questions or comments about the housing market, or selling or buying a home, he can be reached directly at 914-522-2076.