Decorate with RED – Fearless Design!


Fearless use of Red – Ice Icelandic graphic artist Katrin Olina’s Cristal Bar in Hong Kong.

If colors had attitudes, red would be the diva. Red is the most difficult color to manage because it’s the most prominent, even of the primary triad of colors – Red, blue and yellow.

If you place red in any quantity in any environment it will be the first thing that the eye is drawn to; indoors or out. Red is the color that the brain associates with danger. It is used universally in signs of warning, legible to people world-wide in the shared universal language of color.

What does red mean to your room design? It means that you have the means for control – red is like a color super-power. Red gives you the ability to direct the attention of anyone who enters your space, drawing the eye in the direction that you want to draw their gaze. This is great if a room has some flaws that you want to detract attention from.

The decision you need to make is how much red do you want to live with? Red is known to elevate the heart rate, and heighten appetite as well as emotionality.That being said, you need to decide how much super-power you want to employ. Even super man recognized the need for Clark Kent. Balance and design are always the best of friends.

Ways to use red:

Direct the eye – pepper it at various sight levels, such as in pillows and lampshades, window panels, or in a hanging drum pendant which is always a stunning focal point when lit in the evening. If red is suspended, it can draw your eye up to a very light blue ceiling. Light blue creates the illusion of raising ceiling height.

Walls or focal walls – the right red on a focal wall can look fabulous. Just remember that red creates the illusion of intimacy, drawing the walls in. The warmer reds (reds saturated with more orange) amplify this effect. The bluer reds are deeper and will function to push a wall back visually – but to affect this properly, it is imperative to include a combination of recessed and task lighting or lamps so that your blue-red is not cave-like.

Be cautious in rooms with low ceiling height like finished basements. You can also break it up that red focal wall by hanging multiple wall art pieces with crisp white mats, and black or white frames with centered prints that either unify your accent colors or add some neutral balance via black and white. Red above a clean white wainscoting (and again interrupted with art) creates a stunning focal point and without depleting the room of visual air. Ralph Lauren’s Sneaker white works nicely – update this look if you are not a fan of traditional with an unexpected modern chandelier or pendant light.

From Elle Decor, October 2009, designed by Bibi Monahan

Red paint colors that work:

(Don’t be terrified when you apply the shrimp pink primer! It’s hideous, but without it you would be painting on red for days – red is very transparent and needs a heavily tinted primer to cover in even 2-3 coats!)

Courageous Reds that work:

1) Ralph Lauren Paint’s Lattice Red (IB57) – vivid, verbose red that always dresses to impress!

2) Benjamin Moore Moroccan Red (1314) – A deep tomato red – gorgeous in a dining room or on a focal wall.

3) Benjamin Moore’s Redstone  (BM 2009-10) – Another vivid tomato red – tomato reds includes yellow influence.

4) Fine Paints of Europe‘s Dutchlac Brilliant Tulip Red (W1001B-M) – This may be hard to get a hold of, but this is the red of velvet gloves – stunning! Blue Undertone.

5) Benjamin Moore’s Ruby Red (2001-10)

Top To Bottom Left:

Modern Red Hanging Lamp by Berraveld

Design Legacy Red Coral Pillow

Grace & Blake Red Vintage Upholstered Lucite Ottoman

Floral Pendant Light by Europhase

Modern Red Danish Wall Clock

Design Legacy Parrot Pillow






Red Miss K Lamp







Areaware Flora Red Boston Terrier Pillow