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Creating a romantic Valentine's Day table setting
By Deborah Donovan | Daily Herald Staff

A Valentine's Day table for two in Arlington Heights features candles in the shape of a heart on top of a mirror to multiply the light.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Personalize your napkins for Valentine's Day.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Cordials make great bud vases.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Joan Kaufman set a romantic and traditional table for two in Naperville.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Noritake china adds to the atmosphere on Joan Kaufman's table.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

A romantic table for two in Naperville.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Vroom, vroom. Gail Trower of Bolingbrook knows what guys find romantic.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

With her husband, Steve, in mind, Gail Trower set a table for two.


Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Designer Susan Pantaleo set a table for a romantic dessert in front of her fireplace in Fox River Grove.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

You need a personal touch such as a picture of your first date, says Susan Pantaleo.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

Susan Pantaleo chose cherubs, champagne and roses for her romantic table.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 2/7/2009 12:03 AM

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Champagne, check.

Flowers, check.

Harley Davidson glasses, check.

Valentine's Day, Saturday, Feb. 14, brings a romantic interlude in the middle of winter, just when we need cheering up.

We asked four members of the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers how they would create a romantic table.

Gail Trower of Bolingbrook had her husband, Steve, in mind when she concocted a black and red tabletop with Harley accents - ready for a menu of pizza or tacos with beer, hold the chocolates.

In Naperville Joan Kaufman, president-elect of the chapter, also chose a black and red palette, but she used her good china to create a traditional look with an Asian flair.

Susan Pantaleo set a cozy table for dessert and champagne in front of her fireplace in Fox River Grove.

And Kimberly Allyn and Karen Spease of North Dunton Design in Arlington Heights drew such an elaborate pink heart with stemware and candles that a serving cart will be needed to make room for food platters or drink bottles.

"Every man has a pink side," assures Allyn.

Here are some suggestions from our designers.

• Crystal stemware can be very inexpensive at resale shops. Allyn and Spease stacked the glasses two deep, then used pink votive candles to outline a heart on the top layer.

• Get a red or pink fabric pen and write a special sentiment on a white napkin.

• Small silver and gold frames provide sparkle from candles or the fireplace. Allyn and Spease framed handmade Valentines, while Pantaleo chose photos from the couple's first date and first vacation together. "They need to be really personal," she said.

• Those small heart shapes in the dessert cups might look like candy, but they're soap and turn into bubble bath when you toss them in the tub.

• For her guy-friendly table Trower started with a block of Styrofoam to make dice. The dots are hearts cut from a gift bag, and red flowers are poked in the tops.

• Large black records (the kind that made music) serve as place mats or chargers.

• Trower's tablecloth is fabric with a black musical score pattern trimmed with iron-on polka dot tape from Hobby Lobby. The napkins are the same fabric, and large bolts serve as rings.

• A few Harley Davidson candles (musky, not floral) light the table, along with little techy bullet lights.

• This is a great time to use those quirky, one-of-a-kind finds. Kaufman has one set of antique prisms that fit around a candle holder to add sparkle to the evening.

• She balanced red and black carefully, choosing a black tablecloth because a red one would be too much, but adding red woven chargers and linen napkins.

• Don't overdo it with the candles and flowers - you want to be able to see each other.

• Note when choosing a tableware pattern: Gold never needs polishing.

• Use your treasures like Pantaleo's plates with the chintz design, cherubs she's owned since childhood and little wrought iron bird feeders that make great side tables.

• Pastel and floral pillows provide seating for Pantaleo and her guest.

• Bows make romantic napkin rings. Tulle to create a soft feeling and a fantasy evening only costs $1.50 a yard, said Pantaleo. She added goldenrod to the roses to provide color to contrast with the pink and white linens.

Sources: Budget-conscious designers shop at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Michaels, Homegoods, Dollar Tree, TJ Maxx, Target, Amazing Savings, Hobby Lobby.