8 Ways to Bring Intimacy Into Your Home, from the Designer Behind Netflix’s “How to Build a Sex Room”

published Sep 10, 2022
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With many people still working from home, there’s an overlap of boundaries. How can you feel sexy when your work laptop is less than six feet away? Your mood and stress levels factor into your sexual satisfaction, so unless you fantasize about office romances, being near work will only boost your stress level, which is not ideal for getting ~in the mood~. 

Melanie Rose, the designer behind the erotic renovations seen on Netflix’s new reality series “How to Build a Sex Room,” believes designating a space for intimacy is crucial. (Outside of the bedroom, if possible.) “It makes a huge difference because you have to put time aside to enjoy it,” Rose says. “These days, it’s all lists and work. We need to spend some downtime for ourselves — emotionally, not just sexually.” 

Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex. Intimacy can look like cuddling with a partner or finding solo time to take long, hot bubble baths. Forcing yourself to change location so when you’re in that space, something in you shifts — perhaps, dare I say, relax. 

I spoke with Rose about easy ways to improve your mood and decrease stress through the power of mood lighting, color selection, and natural boundaries so you can carve out space for intimacy — in whatever form that takes. 

Remote controls might be the new technology in the bedroom. 

“Mood lighting” feels a tad cliche. It brings up images of rose petals along the floor and candles dripping wax in the corner. While there’s nothing wrong with a bit of classic romance, you can achieve ambiance with a modern upgrade. Rose recommends opting for electric candles with remote controls. Of course, you can still light a couple of your favorite scented soy-wax flames, but there’s no need to overpower the room with scent (and the electric option offers less risk of setting off the fire alarm). Similarly, if you must use overhead lights, Rose suggests using dimmers to offer more control. Her favorite is the Philips Hue mood lighting, where you can set up voice control, play with color, and create automatic transitions.

Room temperature matters in more ways than one. 

Color selection in a room influences how it feels to spend time in it. Warm colors are more romantic than cold, but Rose says it’s all about finding balance. Keep this in mind when setting the literal temperature in the bedroom. If you’re interested in a cozy night in, turn down the temp and let the air conditioner push you closer together under the sheets. However, if you’re in the mood to sweat (ahem), no one feels sexy with goosebumps. The sex company Dame sells cozy socks because a study claims that adding a layer of comfort increased feelings of safety and lowered anxiety for couples — ultimately contributing to better sex. 

Credit: Elissa Crowe

Set the intention of the room.

Ask yourself, what do you want from the room? For example, in “How to Build a Sex Room,” Rose’s clients, Meagan and Dave, didn’t want to walk into a room with whips and chains. They wanted a five-star spa vibe rather than a sex dungeon. The key purpose was to decompress, relax, and create moments of intimacy. If decreasing stress is the goal of the space, that’s what you should consider in the design. “It’s all about designing with all five senses,” Rose says. “Set a space that feels serene and comforting, with soft music, luscious plants, and reed diffusers.” However, if you’re interested in exploring new kinks, a spa-like experience may not exactly be the way to do it.

If you don’t have a lot of space, create natural borders. 

Carving out a space in a smaller home can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Rose suggests starting with simple additions to set the scene, such as turning off overhead lights, lighting the candles (electric or otherwise), and adding a soft throw or a fluffy rug. And perhaps a ficus. 

“I love bringing plants into a home,” Rose says. For those without a green thumb like Rose, faux plants have upped their game recently and can act as a good substitute. Dressing them with candles at the base adds to the serenity. “You want to create a space that’s sensual and sexy,” she says. That doesn’t mean you need to move out to achieve your ideal place of play. 

The arts and crafts store just got sexy. 

If you’re worried about hiding your sex toys from guests or kids, Rose suggests going to Michael’s for decorative boxes, specifically those that look like books. “You can store toys in it, and no one will know,” Rose says as she pulls out a few boxes stacked on her shelves. “Secrecy can be sexy.” If you need a little more storage space, upgrade to a trunk with a lock, “then cover it with a nice throw if you want to be even more discrete.” 

Credit: Emma Fiala

You can’t rush intimacy.

Even with a full-on sex room in your home, you’ll still need to make the time to use it. In “How to Build a Sex Room,” couple Raj and Ryan worked so hard and often went to bed exhausted. “Everything is possible. It’s whether you choose to make it happen,” Rose says. “Shenika and Matthew had a biometric thumbprint installed outside their room so the kids couldn’t get through. Hannah and Wesley used a Murphy door, which is basically hidden behind a bookcase.” It’s about reconnection and deepening that connection — which takes time. “Marriages are a consequence of compromise,” Rose says. “It’s a journey.” 

If weekly dates are too much, try monthly. 

The University of Lincoln studied a group of almost 10,000 couples with a young child over ten years old to find out what date night habits the most successful couples had in common. It turns out going out once a month was just right — too few date nights and you never have quality time together, but too many date nights can result in too much planning stress (especially with the expense of hiring a babysitter). Instead, enjoy more time at home to get personal or tackle household chores together. Now that the pressure of the weekly date night is gone, Rose suggests setting the mood at home by setting the table. “Using the nice plates or lighting a candle can go a long way to change how dinner at home can feel. Also, a discrete paddle by the dessert course wouldn’t hurt either,” she says with a wink. 

Credit: Emma Fiala

You don’t need a full renovation. 

Pumpkin spice lattes are seasonal for a reason. It’s exciting to have a change to look forward to, and that holds true for your home as well. “Refresh the room by changing the accent pieces,” Rose says. “Zippered throw cushions mean you can change the covers, bring out a new throw for the couch, or change out the duvet. It’s that simple.” Even a deep cleaning or shifting furniture or decor around the home can feel like a fresh start. “I hope people come away from the show thinking, ‘I’m going to give my bedroom a little DIY makeover. It really makes a difference in how you feel.”