Making room for romance
B&Bs, hotels offer keys to creating cozy, enchanting spaces right at home
One of the suites at Rachael's Dowry, an inn in Ridgely's Delight. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / January 28, 2013)
Travelers often covet the fluffy bedding, chic furnishings, deep soaking tubs and fancy showerheads that are standard these days at many hotels.
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, there's no better time to evoke a cozy, romantic bed-and-breakfast or a luxe hotel feel right within your own abode.
"The home is a sacred place. You share it with those that you care about and love the most," says Amanda Austin, owner of the eponymous Baltimore interior design firm.
"The question you should ask is if you're existing in your home, or if you feel alive in your home?" says Austin, who heads a small, close-knit design team. "It should be the place that you most want to be, and it should be a place that transports you."
Although a night at a hotel can be romantic, creating a love nest at home will yield repeated rewards. For inspiration, we turned to designers, as well as some of the region's award-winning innkeepers and premier hoteliers.
For instance, you may want to experience some of the glamour and elegance of the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore's Harbor East.
"The decor and ambience of the hotel are rooted in the spectacular location on the Inner Harbor," says Paul Harris, who designs Four Seasons properties around the world.
Harris, who is working on hotel projects in Manhattan and Dubai, notes that the architectural and interior design choices made for the Baltimore location were intended to take advantage of the dramatic views of the city and harbor. "Truly a spectacular backdrop for romance," he says.
Describing the hotel's decor and ambience, Harris deconstructs the color scheme — a neutral palette of natural woods, stones and metals meant to enhance the beauty of the location.
The hotel is awash in a bevy of luxurious, richly textured fabrics, from plush velvet couches and leather chairs to full-length drapery.
"They create a cocoonlike comfort that feels both luxurious and private," says Harris, noting that the light palette and floor-to-ceiling windows mixed with soft accents make one feel "like you are floating on the water or in the clouds."
"Floating equals fantasy," he adds, "and that is a wonderful setting for romance."
The artwork adorning the walls of the Four Seasons also helps to evoke sentiment, Harris says.
"The art collection creates intimate moments in the hotel that encourage guests to slow down, pause and reflect together. … It's like having an in-house date night always at hand."
Even if you don't have collectible paintings or artwork, adding a pop of color can create an air of enchantment. Paint can do the trick, say experts, but so can fun furnishings and accessories.
That's the vibe of the aptly named Hotel Rouge in Washington, where interior designer Andrea Dawson created an oasis that celebrates the color color, which, of course, suggests romance.
"You see the bold use of red throughout Hotel Rouge," says Jaclyn Randolph, a spokeswoman for Kimpton Hotels. "From the whimsical statues and pillows to a mural depicting Venus, the goddess of love."
The San Francisco-based company owns 57 boutique hotels across the U.S., including Baltimore's Hotel Monaco. The brand is known for its hip interiors, which meld luxury and a certain playfulness.