Does romance have a fighting chance in today’s family life? You stayed late at work because your boss is on the warpath. You came home to one kid who’s sick and another who needs help with homework. Your spouse is upset because the credit card bill is heading for the sky again.

But, once everyone’s in bed and the dinner dishes are done, the haven of your bedroom awaits you, right?

Or, is the light glaring, the T.V. blaring and the laundry piles the same ones that were staring at you last week?

No wonder you have to go to a hotel to feel romantic! You probably have to go to a hotel just to decompress!

In overscheduled families, sex has been called, with brutal honesty,“the final chore.” Likewise, the bedroom can become the final room in the house to get attention.

With all that you do, I think the least you deserve is a cozy refuge where you can exhale.

Some things you cannot change; this you can.

When I talk to couples about this, some bring up tight budgets and tight schedules. As a black belt bargain shopper who doesn’t like to spend money, I’m all sympathy. You don’t have to embark on a major re-do. Picture your favorite romantic restaurant. When it comes to creating a romantic haven, you really just need three things: lighting, music and an escape.

It’s All About the Lighting

When the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware first came to Seattle, I was drawn to their windows like a moth. “Uh oh,” I thought, “There goes the budget.” But actually, I didn’t usually see many crave-able items. Weird. I realized it was skillful use of lighting that created spaces that were warm and inviting—that radiated HAPPY HOME.

Obviously lighting can be elaborate. But all you really need are a couple of cheap table lamps. For relaxation and romance purposes, all that matters is that the shades are a warm color and the bulbs are warm and low-wattage. Voila—romantic atmosphere. Forget you have an overhead light. When was the last time you were in a romantic restaurant with bright overhead lights?

Music Sets the Mood

Ninety per cent of the music written (O.K. popular music, anyway) is designed to get people to connect on an intimate level. (Oh, Baby, Baby, come on, Baby, Baby!) Don’t let it go to waste! Again, you can get complicated if you want. But in the digital age, a smart phone and a Bluetooth speaker will give you a music collection and a sound system.

Clear the Bedroom of Chores

Baskets of unfolded laundry are sometimes a reality in a busy family. At least put them in the closet. Don’t let your bedroom be a landing zone for stuff you’ve cleared out of other rooms—that’s what the garage is for, right?

For that matter, clear the bedroom of anything that reminds you of work. Yes, I mean phones and laptops. (Unless you’re listening to music, of course!) Being constantly plugged in causes fatigue and anxiety. Not so good for the libido. Besides, sex is play, and if your bedroom reminds you at all of a cubicle, well…I think you get my point.

In order to get in the mood, your senses need something to work with. Too often, as time passes, we get resigned to being workhorses. Not only do we not nurture our senses, we actively insult them. Enough of that!

You may find that just saying to your spouse you’d like to create a more inviting atmosphere in your bedroom will stir up a little warmth between you.