Whether you spent hours in the kitchen creating a gourmet meal for your honey, or want to dress up a takeout dinner, you can still serve your special someone at a beautiful and romantic tablescape.
Alma-Lillian Abruzzo, "The Tablescaper," shares her Valentine's table setting and offers tips on how to recreate the look in your own home.
"I came across these amazing place mats red velvet with embossed gold damask (and they are square!) at an after Christmas sale at HomeGoods," says Abruzzo.
"I enjoy playing with different shapes. I suggest looking for different shapes, not always the traditional round plate or rectangle place mat. Keep your mind open. Yes, these were marketed as Christmas place mats, but they easily lend themselves to Valentine's Day," she points out.
"The place mats immediately reminded me of these beautiful red and gold cake plates I purchased several years ago at the Pottery Barn Outlet. They were an amazing match the place mats and the cake plates. That was the spark of inspiration for this tablescape. A romantic Valentine's table."
Abruzzo decided that if it was going to be a romantic table, it should be for two something intimate.
She used a round table in her living room, and suggests when setting a table, you should consider alternative spaces, and not just the dining room or kitchen.
"If you look closely, you'll notice the red in the place mat and the red in the plate are not the exact shade of red," says Abruzzo, "but as I almost always layer the plates, I wasn't concerned about this. You're looking for the overall effect; not every item needs to match perfectly.
"So now the layering had to begin. After the place mats, it needed some gold. Last year I spied these amazing gold chargers at the Villeroy and Boch store. They were quite pricey. I kept visiting them and was finally was able to get them at a great sale. When I bought them I had no idea how I was going to use them, but knew they were great and had to be added to my collection.
"Frequently when I buy things, I'm not sure how I'm going to use them. Go with what speaks to you and it will eventually come together," Abruzzo says.
"The next layer, a white plate with a gold rim (a very inexpensive plate purchased in a cheap boxed set, which I knew could be used as a building block in various tablescapes). On top are the red and gold cake plates."
To add a little impact, Abruzzo layered napkins a red one, and then a second napkin of white with gold trim. She says layering the napkins is an easy way to tie the components of the tablescape together. The red napkins are from a long ago purchase at Christmas, along with a matching tablecloth. She bought the napkin rings at a Villeroy and Boch clearance sale.
"I dug out my red cut glass champagne crystal, which I purchased several years ago from the Barron's catalog, for Christmas celebrations."
Although they can't be seen in the accompanying photo, Abruzzo wanted to use white and gold embossed pillar candles she purchased at a dollar store at Christmas time, as they lent themselves to the gold pattern on the place mat and plate, but didn't have gold pillar candle stick holders.
She improvised, and used brass candle stick holders (purchased at a tag sale) and added white and gold Limoges fruit bowls (which were her grandmother's) to nestle the pillar candles within.
Abruzzo says she is fortunate to have two sets of silver flatware, and in keeping with the tablescape she created, she opted for the more elaborate pattern.
Next, she "shopped her house."
"I looked around my house and in my cupboards to see what I could find which had gold trim. The mini white with gold edge Limoges tureen (purchased at an antique show) was sitting in a cabinet. The small gold embossed crystal rose ball (also her grandmother's) was on an end table in the living room," says Abruzzo.
"I didn't want to add roses (expensive and trite), so instead, I put a tea light candle in the rose bowl."
While she already had a pretty table, she says to "really bring it home, it needs extra touches."
"I sprinkled the rose petals ($2 at Wal-Mart) across the table and a few on the plates. The little glass heart ornaments were purchased at Michael's. I didn't use all of them, just one on each plate, as a little touch.
"And for the finishing touch, I purchased (believe it or not, at Wal-mart again) my husband's Valentine candy and tailored my selection to this table a lush red velvet to coordinate with the velvet on the place mats."
While you may not be able to create this exact tablescape in your own home, "shop your home" as Abruzzo says. Do you have dishes in red, white or pink? Anything with gold accents? Crystal bowls?
Gather your items together, and start with a base a place mat, tablecloth, or even some pretty fabric. Then start to layer your items until you find something that pleases you and sets the right mood.
If you would like to see more photos of the Valentine's Day tablescape, visit The Tablescaper at http://thetablescaper.com/2010/02/romantic-valentines-dinner-for-two.html.
Abruzzo has taken her love of dishes ("I buy them anywhere and everywhere online, expensive stores, the dollar stores, Wal-Mart, HomeGoods. Wherever.), and what started as a hobby, quickly became a passion, and is now blossoming into a career.
For more inspirational tablescaping ideas, visit thetablescaper.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.