This thick chenille throw from Restoration Hardware would make a nice gift for a loved one on Valentine's day. $79. (Restoration Hardware)

Almost everyone I know who has a successful, long-term relationship more or less says the same thing: If you’re really in love with someone, doing and saying those special things to make that person light up is not hard work. It may take a little extra effort, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s the best investment you’ll ever make. The reality, however, is that work, kids and the dogs all have a way of climbing their way to the top of the list of things to address.

So as Valentine’s Day rolls around, why not do a little prep work around the house and lay the foundation for a really great holiday? In addition to a card and dinner plans, here are some home-centric ways to show your special someone that you put some thought into this year’s holiday:

●Purchase a warm throw for your loved one’s favorite reading chair. During the holiday season, throws are both my favorite gift to give and receive. They’re the gift of comfort and warmth, and who doesn’t want that?

If you’ve noticed that your loved one’s favorite perch could use a little sprucing up, purchase a throw that will make sitting in that reading chair all the more luxurious. This is something that most of us would appreciate but would never think to do for ourselves. And that’s the point of Valentine’s Day gifts, right? Since we’re still squarely in winter, consider a heavier, chunkier throw that will really amp up the cozy factor.

●Have dimmers installed to control overhead lights, pendants and lamps to set the perfect tone.

This cloth-bound photo album, " Hudson" from Kolo, makes a great Valentine's Day gift for a loved one when filled with photos of the two of you together. Available in a variety of colors at $29- $45. (Kolo)

This may not seem like a romantic purchase, but in my experience, comments on a room’s warm feel are usually attributable to the light level being set correctly. If you don’t have dimmers on all of the switches to your overhead lights, install them and watch how they transform your home.

For daytime events, light levels can be higher to enhance daylight and add to the ambience. For evening events, lower the light level to create a cozy and sociable mood. And for more romantic evenings, lower the light level even further and add candlelight to create a magically romantic setting. Take this thought process one step further and add dimmers to your lamps, too. To ensure safety, have an electrician install your dimmers if this is something that you don’t know how to do yourself.

●Pull together a photo album of your favorite images from 2011. In this digital age, it’s easy and convenient to keep your photos stored on your laptop, tablet or phone. Although that helps reduce clutter and keeps things nice and organized, it’s not terribly romantic. Take a moment and get old-fashioned by printing your favorite images of shared experiences from the past year and put them in a beautiful photo album. Photo albums can sit around the house and look great on bookshelves, coffee tables and end tables in a way that your computer or phone never will. Have a book made using one of the many Web sites that offer inexpensive options for creating personal tomes comprised of images of your selection.

●Purchase new master bathroom towels, which tend to hang on much longer than they should. When you think about how much time you spend washing your face, brushing your teeth and showering, a nice, fresh set of bath towels makes a lot of sense. The object of your affection will no doubt appreciate that you took the effort to make a significant difference. Pair new towels up with a hot, drawn bath and you’ve instantly earned major points!

●Replace that outdated television with a new, flat-screen model and accompany it with mutually meaningful movies, including your first-date movie.

Electronic gifts don’t necessarily rise to the top of most people’s lists of Valentine’s Day gestures, but if your partner is someone who loves to watch television or this is an activity that brings the two of you together, consider it.

Yip is an interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Design Star” and “Bang for Your Buck.” Originally from McLean, Yip is based in Atlanta and New York. Follow him on Facebook (Vern Yip/Artist) and Twitter (@VernYipDesigns), and learn more at His column appears monthly.

Consider reversible bath towels from Crate & Barrel available from $3.95- $39.95. It’s like getting two (Crate & Barrel)