In February, with Valentines Day approaching, red is unavoidable…red roses, red hearts, red candy boxes….and frankly, it is a nice relief from all the gray of this dismal weather month. Red is a great color for interiors. It has been said that every room needs a touch of red, and while I’m not sure I agree that red is a necessity in EVERY room, it does add a great deal to many! With shades ranging from deep burgundy to candy apple red, there are many moods that can be created – from playful to sophisticated.
Red can be used in any room…while often, red is thought to be too stimulating for sleeping spaces, that is just not so. When my children were born, I deliberately chose a burgundy as my main nursery color (in part, to avoid anyone giving me trite, baby-themed decorative items I would be obligated to use). And I am happy to report, my children slept perfectly well and grew up to be wonderful, well-adjusted human beings in spite of an infancy deprived of pastels and ducks. But red is most often used in living and dining spaces.
If you are bold, consider red walls. Lacquered walls and Venetian plaster walls have a depth and sheen that is unparalleled, but both are labor intensive (and expensive) processes. A shortcut for a similar appearance to real lacquered walls, is enamel paint topped with a coat of clear varnish. High gloss red paint, while not quite the same look, is also a nice option. As always, be aware that the glossier the finish, the more it will reveal every bump and blemish, so prep work is really important for a good result.
Striking red lacquered walls make the perfect backdrop for art as shown in this NY exhibition installation by artist Mickalene Thomas.
Gold, brass, or gilding look wonderful with red. This stunning 5th Avenue room by Nancy Boszhardt with glossy red walls and gilded detailing highlighting the molding is reminiscent of the walls in Brook Astor’s library by the great Albert Hadley.
Strong red walls can tame a profusion of pattern. This tiny little window seat nook in a gorgeous, colorful house designed by the amazing Ashley Whittaker features bright red millwork alongside 5 different patterns.
Red Patterned Walls
Raspberry red trim and fretwork is paired with a scenic wallpaper in this regal Easthampton dining room by Celerie Kemble.
If solid red feels like too much of a good thing, you might try walls wrapped in red pattern with upholstered fabric walls or graphic wallpaper.
Wallpaper can be used to wrap a whole room or just as an accent. Textured wallpapers like grasscloth are especially nice to accent the back of a bookcase, niche, or built-in.
And there is always the option of adding a dash of red with fabrics and fruit or flowers. Even small doses of red make a big impact in a room.
In this gorgeous paneled room by the incomparable Bunny Williams, the seating is enlivened with 2 raspberry upholstered chairs and touches of raspberry red in the rug, throw, and in the printed fabric seating.
Another iconic room featuring red upholstery is the library in the home of the decorating genius, Mark D. Sikes, shown in THIS post.
Below are a few decorative accessories in shades of red. Chinoiserie really shines in red, thus the pagoda shaped lanterns, garden stool and bamboo selections. Click on image for details.
Kitchens offer opportunities for red as well. For the fearless, there are red cabinets or appliances, and for those who want a lower level of commitment, there are red accents in easily changed items like dishes, chairs, and accessories.
Below are a selection of red kitchen-friendly options. Click on each image for details.
Red Paint Colors
There are hundreds of shades of red paint, some bright, and some more subtle, some leaning toward orange-red and some more purple-reds. Below are a few of my favorites, but, as always, TEST your paint colors in the room where they will be used. THIS post has tips on the important steps to take when choosing a paint color.
Add a little red to your life!
Have you used red in your home? I’d love to hear what you chose and why in the comments below.
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