The perfect excuse for a bit of romance, or clichéd and commercialised? Whatever you think of Valentine's Day, there's no denying that in the middle of February, when Christmas is a distant memory and spring is taking ages to arrive, we could all do with something to celebrate.
But you don't need to spend huge sums or plan grand gestures - true romance lies in the small, everyday things. The last few weeks of winter are also the ideal time to think about showing your kitchen some love - give the room a refresh now, and it will be ready for you to enjoy when the weather brightens up and the spring-time socialising begins. So, this Valentine's Day, skip the crowded restaurants and petrol station flowers, and spend it where the heart really is - at home.
1. Go bold in the kitchen
Red may be the colour of love and passion, but it's also a great fit in the kitchen. In a spacious room, red is a strong, bold talking-point, and in a smaller room, it creates a real sense of warmth and cosiness. Rather than committing to crimson walls or trying to source scarlet furniture, why not go for red doors with a high gloss finish? If you're not totally convinced, red doors on lower units and a neutral shade like white or cream on wall units would look really striking.
2. Cook up a storm
You could book a table at a busy restaurant and pay over-the-odds for a bottle of wine - or you could dodge the crowds and enjoy a delicious Valentine's dinner in the comfort of your own kitchen. Make the most of your cosy night in and cook something indulgent - a roast works well if you want to let the oven do the work, while steak is a lovely treat (serve with thick-cut chips and your favourite green veg). Homemade pizza also makes a great Valentine supper - you can buy pizza bases ready-made and simply pile them high with your favourite toppings, or get stuck into some energetic kneading and make your own.
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3. Give a homeware gift
It's always nice to give a present you know someone will definitely use, so perk up your cooking space with something fun. Pretty cups and mugs usually go down well - especially if your special someone needs their caffeine fix to get them out of bed in the morning. Lightboxes also make great homeware gifts - they look cool, and you can leave messages on them. Better than a Post-it note on the fridge, don't you think?
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4. Say it with cake
On a chilly, grey February day, there's nothing nicer than doing a spot of baking in a cosy kitchen. Biscuits are perfect if you've got little ones who want to help out - they'll love stamping out the shapes and getting creative with some icing. And no Valentine's Day dinner is complete without a decadent pudding - this torte sets in the fridge so there's no cooking involved, and who can resist chocolate?
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5. Create a country-cottage kitchen
Another way to bring a little romance into your kitchen is to go for rustic-style doors. There's something incredibly warm and welcoming about doors with woodgrain finishes and traditional cathedral arch designs - they're the very opposite of stark and clinical. Add accessories in gentle pastels for a charming, pretty look.
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