Color Guide: How to Work With Red

It’s the color of love, fire, blood and passion. In China it is connected with happiness. In Japan it’s connected to heroism. In Western cultures it also hints at sex, deviance and shame.

Whatever its institutions, crimson is a strong and beautiful color. True red is a key color, but the spectrum of reds is enormous, from pale pink (white with a little red inside) to scarlet, red and vermillion. In decorating, bright, vibrant reds are often earmarked for accents, while darker, browner reds end up on walls, floors and doors.

Its partner is cyan, or turquoise blue, but it looks good with greens and all sorts of neutrals also, notably warm grays and whites. Red does well with a high gloss (think Chinese lacquer) and striking lighting.

Red works in all sorts of decorating styles, from sleek modern to country adorable, but it’s a dramatic color and to use it in a area is to produce a statement. A red room is a fearless room.

Echelon Custom Homes

Red from the Kitchen

Red adds warmth and coziness. This eclectic kitchen uses red to bring together a retro stove and backsplash, an island having a state vibe along with a rich Oriental rug.

Red cabinetry, especially if it’s stained rather than painted, can provide a kitchen a warm, traditional country feel. It goes well with the the warm tones of the natural wood also.

Brandon Barré Architectural Interior Photographer

Red on the Walls

The accent wall is the probably the most frequent means to integrate red into a room. It’s daring but not too much. With this room’s clean lines and bright whites, red looks quite modern but still warm.

Webber + Studio, Architects

If you want to go crazy with crimson, try it in a little area. A small red powder room is lively and enjoyable without feeling overwhelming.

Rikki Snyder

Chinese-patterned red wallpaper gives this distance such freshness and depth. Try to imagine the exact same wall at a sage green or beige — seems pretty blah after this, right?

FORMA Design

Here is another red accent wall. Red really benefits from good light, and also this wall seems to shine, adding warmth and intimacy into the room.

Jagoda Architecture

Here is an accent wall at high gloss. It glows among the warm neutrals and almost resembles a piece of artwork.

Famosa – The Surface Studio

Here, glossy red is achieved with tile. It gives an otherwise stark white bathroom so much depth.

Holly Marder

OK, so it’s not a wall, but this reddish floor remains a dramatic choice that provides a lot of warmth and intimacy into a massive room with a high ceiling.

Baysix Design

Decorating With Red

When you opt for a print with a great deal of red, you get the benefit of being able to add red accents. Red is notable here but not in any way overwhelming. And see how well it goes with green?

Tiffany Eastman Interiors, LLC

A red sofa brings some pop and passion into a very buttoned-up, traditional living room.

I’m in love with this little bath, which becomes an absolute jewel with the red wallpaper and matching claw-foot tub.

Red and turquoise are soul mates.

Lola Watson Interior Design

A traditional living room with crimson accents.

Fougeron Architecture FAIA

A modern living room with crimson accents.

Da Vida Pools, LLC, Andre Del Re & Lisa North, CBP

Red Outside

Red appears in character all the time, but you do not see it quite frequently in decorating and design for the outside (except doors). Should you use it, it will pop like nothing else.

Ana Williamson Architect

Any doorway can benefit from reddish. Seriously, any doorway. Modern doors.

Goforth Gill Architects

Craftsman doors.

Rachel Greathouse

Urban doors.

Debra Campbell Design

Cottage doors.

Swaback Partners, pllc

Barn doors.

Soorikian Architecture

Colonial doors.

Paul Davis Architects

Midcentury doors. I’m telling you they all work beautifully.

Benjamin Moore

Dinner Party Paint

Red Paint and Wallpaper

This really is a superb reddish for partitions: bluish and deep and sedate.


Red Bay SW6321 Paint

Another cool red that will work well in a traditional room.

Benjamin Moore

Flamenco CSP-1195 Paint

A vibrant bright red.

Benjamin Moore

Paper Lantern CSP-1150 Paint

A superwarm reddish with a lot of orange. Sizzle.


Rave Red 6608 Paint

Another orangey red. Oh, this might look so good in a high gloss.

Wallcandy Arts

Red Apple Wallpaper – $169

Background for a little girl’s room? Only 1 wall.

Janna Makaeva/Cutting Edge Stencils

Damask Rose Stencil – $40

A damask-pattern stencil can be made to look quite modern with the right roommates.


Zebras Wallpaper, Masai Red – $199

Beautiful, vermillion zebra wallpaper from the staircase we saw before.

Can you decorate with red? Show us how below!

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