Suite Encounters 

Create a sanctuary for passion

More to the point, we must make a room for it. Or reclaim a room for it. The average bedroom has turned into a multitasking area, where sleeping and lovemaking get squeezed in alongside TV watching and e-mailing. In such an environment, romance is susceptible to both distraction (consider the effect of hearing "You've Got Mail" at a crucial moment) and trivialization. If we value emotional and physical intimacy, we must give it space in which to flourish. That means treating the bedroom as a sanctuary — a place where relationship is nurtured away from the cares of the outside world.

Jackie Craven, author of "The Healthy Home" and the soon-to-be-released "Stress-Free Homes," feels that clearing clutter is a crucial first step to creating that sanctuary. "You want to remove things that remind you of outside concerns so you can focus on sleeping or lovemaking," she says. That includes bills, work projects and even external sources of entertainment. "Really, the TV does not belong in the bedroom."

In deciding what does belong in the bedroom, consider the meaning that particular objects, colors and patterns hold for you. Go beyond the surface details. Paint, pillows and mood-lighting can only do so much on their own. The focus must be on feeling rather than mere furnishings. We must surround ourselves with objects that resonate with our desire for passionate connection.

The first step may be acknowledging the power that objects have in our life. According to Thomas Moore, a former monk turned bestselling author, objects have an "erotic life." In "The Soul of Sex," he writes, "Things are not only capable of true intimacy, they also bring a high degree of sensuality into our lives. We touch them, look at them, listen to them, clean them, oil them, decorate them."

Objects have power over us, erotic or otherwise, because we invest them with power. We may feel sad around a piece of artwork because we associate it with an old flame, or we may find a new scent strangely alluring because it reminds us of a loved one.

If we pay attention to the feelings elicited by certain colors and objects and designs, we can begin to intentionally shape our environment to enhance both intimacy and connection.

Intention is the key. Our intention in adding silk toss-pillows to our bed or in hanging a picture upon the wall is much more significant than the pillow or the picture itself. If we are just recreating a certain "look" from a magazine spread, our new furnishings, though aesthetically pleasing, will leave our hearts untouched.

If, on the other hand, we hang a framed honeymoon photograph by the bed and choose a silky pillow in our beloved's favorite shade of blue, then we are charging the air of our bedroom with erotic energy. These objects will radiate with intention — with our desire to reconnect with romantic encounters past and our present longing for sensuous embrace.

To create an intentionally romantic space, begin by considering the color of your passion. Is it carnation red? Burnt orange? Plum purple? A Mediterranean blue reminiscent of a rendezvous — real or imagined — in the Greek isles? By surrounding yourself with shades of your passion color, on the walls and in your bedding, you create an environment capable of sustaining and enhancing erotic energy.

Debbie Travis, a much-published author in the field of custom finishes, recommends paint as an affordable way to immerse yourself in the colors and designs of your choice. "Your walls are the backdrop on which you can present a tranquil spirit with quiet shades of taupe, pale green and earthy terra-cottas, or paint a fantasy of splendor by replicating marble slabs, stone pillars, and the look of lush fabrics."

As for decorative accessories, think of physical comfort and emotional meaning. Textiles should be soft to the touch. Pillows should be plush and inviting. Ornaments should have a personal resonance. Consider a framed photograph of a shared adventure, dried flowers from a first date, a piece of art that speaks to and your partner.

Craven recommends pairing objects to symbolize the harmony and unity within your relationship — perhaps two similarly sized photographs together on a wall or two vases sitting upon a bureau.

If it is our intention to lead a sensual life, it follows that we must engage our senses. Aromatherapy candles will add scent, light and heat to the space. The very act of lighting a candle can charge the bedroom air with erotic energy. You don't have to limit yourself to one candle or even a handful of candles. Consider filling a metal tray with votives, safely contained in candleholders so you're not distracted by a possible fire hazard.

Incense is another aromatic option —and one with an ancient reputation for enhancing desire. Experiment with sandalwood, vanilla, myrrh, patchouli and other fragrances to find the ones that kindle desire.

If you find music to be an aphrodisiac, place a stereo in your bedroom and keep your favorite seductive tracks on-hand. For a more natural sound environment, consider a gently-running fountain, just loud enough to drown out the outside world.

Above all, you must give in to your senses — as many as possible. When we appeal to more than one sense, we find more pleasure in our environment. We feel more alive. We feel more passionate. And, hopefully, we remember all the knee-quivering ecstasy of falling in love in the first place. HS



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