I was recently put in touch with local Interior Designer, Elizabeth Rosendorf, president and owner of e.rose designs, who kindly offered to give us (and DC Life Magazine, where I run the dating column) some tips on making our abodes date friendly.
I’m going to add a few suggestions of my own, coed ideas that are less “designy.” For me, being prepared has always helped me set up a good experience or save the night when something unexpected happens. Ways to be prepared:
1) Have ingredients and recipes (that you have tried) on hand so that you can whip up breakfast, lunch or dinner on a moment’s notice. If you know someone is coming over for a meal, then you can plan better what you will be cooking, but if he or she just happened to come over after the movie (or wherever the date happens to be), it will be more on the fly. It isn’t difficult to learn how to make a few good dishes. And, yes Elizabeth, it is good to have fruit on hand.
2) Have specialty food items on hand. If you have gourmet or interestingly flavored items (chocolate, potato chips, ginger ale, cookies, iced tea, etc.), it can certainly add to the experience. Many people are always looking to try new things, and it also shows that you either are adventurous or have good taste. These items don’t have to be expensive—I often find interesting specialty food items at World Market, Trader Joe’s, or on sale at Whole Foods.
3) Have ingredients and recipes handy to make good cocktails. Have some good or interesting wine and beer around as well. I’ve gotten good beer suggestions from Arrowine in Arlington and the Beer Manager at Whole Foods Arlington, and any decent wine store can make good suggestions as well.
4) Your local pharmacy is your friend. If your date needs Advil, Imodium AD, a toothbrush, etc., it would be helpful to have them handy before the date is ruined. Just be prepared for the worst, and while you are at it, always have a first aid kit and fire extinguisher handy as well–I’ve had use for both on dates. I’m assuming I don’t have to tell you to have condoms and such on hand.
5) Have a good selection of DVDs as well. You can invite him or her over to watch movies or can have an impromptu movie night.
Here are Elizabeth’s separate lists of suggestions for men and women:
Interior Design: Top 10 Ways for a Guy to Make His Space Girl Friendly
1) Eliminate futons from your home. We know it’s tempting, because they’re convenient and inexpensive, but resist the urge to futon it up, because futons scream man cave. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a sofa and/or bed, and you don’t need to buy anything super “designy.” If you don’t want to pay full price, buy off of Craig’s List. Your date will appreciate the effort, because sofas and beds are always more welcoming to a woman than a series of nondescript futons.
2) Get rid of semi-broken and battered furniture. We know you love your arm chair, despite (or perhaps because of) the big rips in the upholstery, and the way it creaks when you crank out the foot rest, but your girlfriend will feel more comfortable if your furniture is in decent condition. It’s good to have lived in, comfortable furniture, but know the difference between broken in and just plain broken.
3) Don’t let your entertainment center be the most eye catching decoration in your home. There’s nothing wrong with having a big, state-of-the art entertainment center, but add a few pictures or paintings on the walls. Which brings us to number 4:
4) Blank walls are not welcoming. You don’t want to plaster your walls with images, but spend some time choosing paintings or pictures that represent you. Love soccer? Find a picture of your favorite soccer team. Close to your nieces and nephews? Put up a family montage. And remember to frame and hang everything. Posters tacked to the walls are the province of teenaged set.
5) If you have the flexibility in your lease, or you own your place, add paint colors to the walls to break up the typical monotony of white/beige walls everywhere. You don’t need to paint every wall or every room. Decide what works for you. Color adds visual interest, and it will give your home a more individual feel.
6) Stock your fridge with items other than beer. If you happen to enjoy beer, definitely keep some on hand, but put some other necessities in the fridge, like milk, eggs, fruit and yogurt, and keep some cereal in the pantry. You want to be able to offer your girlfriend breakfast in the morning. Which brings us to number 7:
7) Get a decent set of matching dishes. Your girlfriend will appreciate it if the cereal bowls and the plates go together.
8) Keep a few bottles of wine around even if you don’t drink it. Lots of women might enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, or after, and they’ll feel more like they belong in your space if you have a bottle on hand. Make sure to stock a few wine glasses, too, so she isn’t stuck drinking wine out of a regular glass. Extra points if you buy a wine rack to hold your bottles.
9) Get a set of book shelves for your books. I’ve seen a lot of guys just stack up their books in the corner, which creates clutter in their space, particularly when you have a lot of books, and the piles are starting to tip over.
10) Get matching bed sheets to give your bedroom a more finished feel. Unmatched sheets are distracting, and a put together set will allow your girlfriend to focus on you, rather than the bedding.
Interior Design: Top 10 Ways for a Woman to Make Her Space Guy Friendly
1) Balance girly touches with neutral colors and clean lines. If you put fluffy cushions on the couch, the couch itself should have smooth lines. If the cushions happen to be pink, go for an off white sofa.
2) For a more dramatic contrast, go with a black sofa/living room chair set, which will make your girly cushions pop.
3) In the bedroom, silky sheets in a light color are fantastic and add a feminine touch. A ruffled pink bedspread, not so much. You want your space to feel womanly but you also don’t want your guy to think he’s in “girl world”. Feminine highlights should be just that-highlights.
4) If you’re naturally less girly, don’t be afraid to show it. There’s no law that says you need pastel or pink/purple highlights. On the other hand, a full on man cave look is not the best approach either. Pick a look that suits you and emphasizes your version of femininity.
5) My favorite romantic bedroom touch: Hang a mosquito net over your bed and spread it out to surround the entire bed. Or staple colorful wall hangings to the ceiling over your bed to create an exotic feel. It makes your bedroom feel welcoming and feminine but not overwhelmingly so.
6) If you have the flexibility in your lease, or you own your space, add color to the walls. Pick shades that you feel represent you to give your home an individual feel. Balance brightly colored walls with warm beiges or cool whites, depending on the shades you choose.
7) Keep some beer in your fridge. Maybe you drink it, too, but even if you don’t, lots of guys do, so it’s best to be prepared.
8) Buy a few beer steins so if your date does drink beer, he isn’t stuck drinking it out of a wine glass. Extra points if you keep a cool bottle opener on hand.
9) Keep a few modern vases around your space so you’ll be prepared in case a date gives you flowers. There is nothing more awkward than getting flowers on a date and having to lay them on the table due to a lack of vases. Alternatively, buy flowers for yourself and have fun showing them off in your vases.
10) Add some pictures and paintings to your walls that represent who you are. Have a favorite football team? Love dance? Put up pictures and paintings that show your world.
Elizabeth’s Bio: Elizabeth Rosendorf, president and owner of e.rose designs, draws on a wealth of experience to provide personal styling, interior design, graphic design, and architectural 3D modeling solutions. She holds a Masters of Interior Design from the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and she has built on her interiors base to develop expertise in graphics, fashion, and 3D modeling. Her philosophy is that the desired design and style exist within the client, and it is her goal to draw this design out and articulate it through her work. Rather than simply placing a solution on her client, she seeks to find the solution within the customer, and then give it form. Her design sensibilities are informed by her upbringing in Washington, DC and by her time spent studying and working in France and Germany, and traveling through Europe. She is devoted to promoting sustainability, and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP).