Instead of dining out on Valentine’s Day—in a restaurant packed with strangers and dripping with paper hearts—wouldn’t it be more intimate, in every sense of the word, to stay in? That’s always been our preference: candles, a table set for two, and perhaps pajamas over crowds and cold.
When we emailed recently with Ajiri Aki, the France-based doyenne of stylish, effortless table settings (she runs the vintage tableware shop and linen purveyor Madame de la Maison), we were happy to hear that she feels the same, all the way over in Paris. Here’s how she sets the table for a simple Valentine’s dinner for two—plus her tips for making it just a bit romantic, never fussy.
Photography by Ajiri Aki.
1. Resist the urge to go pink.
2. Choose petite flowers over big bouquets.
3. Sprinkle some roses.
Above: “I always add one little stereotypical element that connects to the holiday,” Ajiri says. For a romantic touch, she scattered a handful of dry rose buds down the center of the table.
4. Use the good china.
5. Embrace imperfection.
6. Sit kitty-corner.
P.S. See more of Ajiri’s entertaining tips in Joyeux Noël: How to Throw a Holiday Party the French Way. And here’s our original feature on her work: Vintage French Style You Can Rent: Madame de la Maison in Paris.
“House Party” is realtor.com®’s official podcast about the overlapping worlds of real estate and pop culture, hosted by Natalie Way, Erik Gunther, and Rachel Stults. Click the player above to hear our takes on this week’s hot topics.
For our 50th episode (!!!), our colleague Clare Trapasso, realtor.com’s deputy news editor, breaks down the ripple effect that coronavirus is having on the U.S. housing market. What might happen to real estate as the global pandemic continues to spread?
Other topics we cover:
In lighter news, an insane “Star Wars”–themed basement inspired us to discuss what would be in our fantasy spaces. Is it possible to build a 5,000-square-foot hot tub?
We reveal our true feelings (and don’t hold back) about she sheds and man caves.
We continue our new segment, “The Mailbox,” in which we read and answer listener letters from our inbox. (It’s open, y’all! We’d love to hear from you: email@example.com)
A Valentine’s Day–appropriate discussion turns to Jack-and-Jill sinks. (Are they really worth it?)
And, of course, we cover the week’s celebrity real estate winner and loser.
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Stories we discussed on ‘House Party’ this week:
U.S. Real Estate Market Shows Symptoms of Coronavirus Effect: What You Need to Know
$26.5M Hidden Hills Mansion With Stupendous ‘Star Wars’ Basement Lands on Market
‘Help, My Husband and I Can’t Agree on a House!’
My Biggest Remodeling Regret? Double Bathroom Sinks
No Longer a Housewife, Bethenny Frankel Sells Her SoHo Loft at a Loss
Lance Armstrong Lists His Beloved Aspen, CO, Family Retreat for $14.5M
Here’s how I usually respond when my husband asks about Valentine’s Day gift ideas: “I don’t want anything.” “Really, any gift you give me will be great.” “Whatever.”
Here’s what I’m going to do this year instead: send him the link to this gift guide.
Below, Remodelista’s wish list of beautiful things:
Above: Margot’s smitten with the plant-dyed textiles of Dublin-based Kathryn Davy, in particular with her pink-hued wool socks, but as those are currently sold out, she’s eyeing this Linen Cutlery Pocket, hand-dyed with madder root; $24.71.
Above: From Julie: Centuries-old French fragrance company L’Officine Universelle Buly will carve whatever monogram you wish into its Savon Superfin soap for added luxury. You can also choose from different packaging (pictured are 2 of 14 options); €24.17 each (€5 for monogramming).
Above: “I love the foil of iron exterior and soft blush interior of this cup,” says Justine. One Kiln Ceramics’ Ash Glazed Cup, made in Japan, is $30 each at Alder & Co.
Above: “I would be happy to receive a clutch of dead flowers for Valentine’s Day,” says Fan. “These dried botanicals from Bloomist are so pretty and poetic.” The Dried Pink Heather is $22 and the Cream Globe Amaranthus is just $12. Extra points for presenting them in a Pink Terracotta Vase by Sheldon Ceramics.
Above: Another Julie suggestion: Cafe Bowls, in sorbet, from Heath Ceramics’ Chez Panisse Line; $37 each.
Above: “I am dying for somebody to please get me a pair of pajamas from Zara Home’s really great-looking collection,” says Annie. “In particular, their Pleated Pajamas“; $69.90.
Above: Another one from Annie, who is committing to a candle-lit life this winter: Hay’s Flare Candle Holder, shown in pink, is just $25 each.
Above: Fan finds paper products—books, newspapers, magazines—romantic. These prettily packaged Antoinette Poisson Notebooks are each hand-printed and bound in Paris; from $48.
Above: Julie has Baies Rose Dishwashing Liquid by Astier de Villatte on her wish list. She found it at The Primary Essentials, where it’s currently sold out. Liberty London also sells it for £20.
Above: Another one from Fan: “I used to work with Marcie McGoldrick at Martha Stewart Living, where she was the editorial director for crafts and holiday. She’s now making artful ceramics, among which are these captivating cameo pendants, cast from tinted porcelain.” Her Cameo Jewelry, which also includes rings set in silver or gold, starts at $140 each.
Above: Margot fell for R+D Lab’s Italian colored borosilicate glassware at Shoppe Object last week. She was happy to discover that the Bon Nuit Bedside Carafe and Glass and Cameo Pink Ribbed Wine Glass are both sold at Sunday Shop; $178 and $82.
For past Valentine’s Day roundups, see:
Editor’ Picks: Our 2019 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide
Editors’Picks: 10 Valentine’s Day Gifts
8 Favorites: Drinking Glasses With a Hint of Pink
Rethink Pink: 14 Favorite Graphic, Un-Frilly Rugs in Rose Hues