Romance in Architecture: From Courtships to Courtyards


Today is Valentine’s Day – a date that many celebrate romance and love. The tradition began in the 14th century and flourished throughout the years until in the 18th century lovers began exchanging gifts such as flowers to proclaim their courtship.

Here we will recognize the day of love by sharing some romantic elements in architecture. Design, both inside and outside of the home, can articulate a distinct and timeless feeling of romance.

A home’s arrival sequence is the first opportunity to introduce a romantic tone. Grand, curving covered archways (porte-cochère), intimate portals and pergolas provide an appealing start to a sequence of encounters – and elicit a feeling of anticipation for what is to come. Traversing down a tree-lined, grass strip allée accented with beautiful plantings can frame and enhance the experience, while visual moments such as gardens or elements of surprise can add to the romantic sensibility.

While the approach is an important introduction, other exterior elements can play a meaningful roll in creating romance. A gambrel roof form, charming window boxes or a beautiful wrap around porch all create memorable architectural moments.

Lighting is another way to add exterior romance to a home: A warm, layered glow can radiate romance throughout the property with a flick of a switch.

Of course, the inside of a home can exude meaningful of romance as well. These impressions come in varying forms – from arched openings to reclaimed beams to coffered ceilings, to name a few. Sometimes, romance comes in the form of rich wood paneling or a wainscoting. Other times, it can be the intimate design of a sitting area, or a window seat with a stunning view.

The essence of romance can also be a personal experience such as a hidden garden, an intimate dressing or bathroom – or even a private view. As they say, love and romance is in the eye of the beholder. For some, it may be the alluring curve of a Palladian window; for others, a Romeo and Juliet balcony.

Here’s to romance, in all of its many (architectural) shapes and forms. Happy Valentine’s Day!

See more romantic images on our Pinterest page here.