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How I Fell In Love With Red: An Ode To Valentine’s Day

How I Fell in Love with Red: An Ode to Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I really like Valentine’s Day. I know, it can be a sappy holiday and people are very divided about it (is it a real event or a greeting card construct?). But when I see red paper hearts on store windows in the middle of winter’s gloom, I can’t help but smile.

Red hearts on Valentine’s Day take me back to childhood. I have fond memories of red paper hearts taking over the walls of my elementary school classroom, and kids passing cute tiny red Valentine’s Day cards to each other for both fun and friendship.

Seeing red paper hearts also takes me back to the cabinet in our family room and the start of my homemade card hobby. My mom worked part-time restocking American Greetings cards in local stores when I was young, and while unsold cards when back to the factory, matching envelopes got thrown out. My mom knows a good thing when she sees it, so after each holiday season she’d come home with a trunk filled with brightly colored envelopes (reds, pinks, oranges, blues, greens!). We found a home for them in the family room cabinet, then like a little Matisse, I’d carefully select my favorite envelope hues, cut them into shapes and craft them into homemade cards for holidays and birthdays. Red heart motifs became my cut-out of choice, easy-to-make for little hands, and inspired by a book I owned called Valentine’s Day Things to Make and Do. 

A collection of some of my favorite heart-shaped crafts and memorabilia, old and new!

And then there was my mom’s red polka dot candy bowl. Each Valentine’s Day my mom would pull a red bowl from our pantry. It was the cutest thing, very shiny red with white polka-dots on the outside. It would appear on our kitchen table for a few weeks each February, filled to the brim with equally shiny, tiny red-hot candies. I loved that bowl so much that during my early years in New York I walked into a store, and when I saw a shiny red bowl I bought it. It was smaller than the one my mom displayed, but was the same bright red hue as the one from my childhood and my heart smiled. In my eyes, the bowl was the meaning of home.

All these mini experiences added up to a collection of Valentine’s Day related memories. But not memories of romance or kissing or falling in love, simply memories of family and friends, and the warmth of a mom creating happiness inside a home.

My red wall and my kitty… taken long ago!

Years later, when I began to craft my own home, I was looking for a color to enhance an accent wall. A friend suggested a vermillion or “Chinese Red”. I said absolutely no, at first, as it seemed too bold. But I couldn’t shake the idea of bringing a theme color into my home, so I decided to do it, and so began the use of the color red in my home.

Over the following decades red became a theme both in my life and in my home. Red began to pop up naturally in the things that I owned, or acquired in the world, in the form of accent pillows, a teapot and saucepan, both of my guitars, tiny decorative items that I placed around my home, and as a featured color in my area rug. And when I launched my business in 2004, my first logo was a little red house.

Without thinking about it, I had fallen in love with red. Not as a color to wear, or even to take over my life, but simply to enhance my home, a pop of color rooted in memories of love, and people, and tender recollections of family and home.

I now have the pleasure of creating cozy homes for a living. People often ask me how I learned this craft, and the truth is, many of my instincts come from seeds planted in childhood memories. I believe everyone has this instinct inside. That we each have the ability to warm up space with pops of color, or texture or shape, artfully placed around the home. We shouldn’t worry if we aren’t conscious about these instincts as they will surface in our adult lives without us even knowing it, just like they did for me the day I bought my own little red bowl. We find ourselves acquiring things that speak to our inner self. We want it, because we love it. And sometimes, we don’t even know why.

“Love Doves” by Sol Richmond in a place of honor on my wall.

My father’s parents, who we called Nanny and Zayda, knew a thing or two about both love and about crafting homes with love. They shared 73 years together, a feat made more remarkable considering they did not marry until they were 25 years old. Life was generous to them, and they left quite a legacy about both partnership and the home. My Zayda was a prolific artist, and one of the images he loved to paint were “Love Doves”. He painted them in honor of my grandmother, and a few years ago, after they both had passed, I brought one particular “Love Dove” painting into my home. It felt sacred, as it had hung in a place of honor in their home for many years. To me, it represented the true essence of partnership in this world, something that we all seek, both in friendship and in romantic love. It wasn’t until I hung it on my wall that I connected to its prominent use of red.

My Valentine’s Day heart mirror… just for fun!

Which brings me back to Valentine’s Day. Each Valentine’s Day, when red paper hearts show up on store windows, I smile. I enjoy the holiday for its good cheer, but also for its heart-felt intentions and for its connection to my personal sense of home. Even if I don’t have a have a sweetie that year, I still like to dress my up my home in hearts and reds, as it warms my body with goodness at a time of the year when we all could use a smile on both the inside and out. So with the approach of Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to look in your life and find a little thing that makes you happy and celebrate it in your home. And with that… Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

Do you bring Valentine’s Day into your home? Share in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Maeve Richmond

Maeve Richmond

Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at maeve@maevesmethod.com or @MaeveRichmond.

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