Designer Decorating With Red

Known to stimulate appetite and conversation, red is most often used in dining rooms. But red can work well in just about any room design. From classic to cutting-edge, here's how four top designers re-imagine the paint color.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionThe ways to make red work in a home are almost limitless.

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And whether you use a lot of red or just a little, try to incorporate at least a splash of red in every room, says designer Alan Tanksley. "Every famous decorator seems to be credited with having been the first to insist that any successful room must have something red in it in order to be complete and a success," Tanksley says. "I don't know who first made that observation, but if you look at practically any gorgeous room in history, you will find it true every time."

Tanksley particularly likes white, silver and crystal accents together in red rooms. "They can be used together to create a very sharp, modern and chic statement," he says, "or can be a bit weathered and worn to create a relaxed, romantic and informal atmosphere." Lori Dennis uses red Barcelona chairs paired with red drapes to create the effect in this living room (above).

Designer John Loecke likes red with hints of orange or pink. "Both are colors derived from red so the two work well together," he says.

If you switch out that orange or pink for yellow, says Catherine B. Stein, color trend forecaster and president of THE COLOR COUNCIL, you'll want to create an American country look: upbeat, energized and optimistic. "And red plus brown is sophisticated and sexy," she says.

For the red-shy, Martha Angus suggests adding a bit of taupe to the mix: "The taupe calms the color down."

"Red can also look really smart with stainless or glass finishes," say designers Alexandra Loew and Lauren Soloff from The Desk of Lola. "It can have a more playful, and '70s feel with other vibrant and acid colors, or can be very clean and simple when paired with white. And, for the truly daring, it can even be paired with purple."

So just how much red should you introduce into your color scheme?

"Some say a little bit of red goes a long way," Stein says. "Of course, it's an individual decision, as color elicits an emotional response. But I say, you can never have too much red!"