Behind the Color Red

Daring and bold, this color commands attention. Learn how to use shades of red in your design.
Red Tufted Dining Room Wall

Red Tufted Dining Room Wall

This classy dining room features a red tufted wall banquette providing a focal point for dinner guests. A black crystal chandelier hangs over the table which seats ten people. Designed by Candice Olson of Divine Design.

By: Jeannie Matteucci

Red isn't for the faint of heart. Considered the color of romance and passion, stimulating red is a design tool that heightens the senses.

Red can feel contemporary, traditional, rustic or timeless, depending on the shade and context. A touch of red can warm up a cool blue-and-white room, or add drama when used as the main color in a small space like a powder room.

From crimson and fire engine red to merlot and rust, there are endless ways to use this warm shade to create a mood.

8 Red Kitchens To Die For

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Contemporary Kitchen

This cozy kitchen uses rust red walls to anchor the design, which features warm textures and salvaged accents. An eclectic mix of golds, browns, greens and whites is showcased against the welcoming hue, while layered lighting makes the space glow in the evenings. Design by Susan Fredman

Eclectic Breakfast Nook

A custom red leather bench seat adds a burst of energy to this dining area. In this design, less red is more. The bold punch of color entertains the eye through intricate window treatments and subtle lighting detail. Design by Kate Ridder

Photo By: Eric Piasecki Photography LLC

Modern Kitchen

Lacquered white cabinets and quartz countertops pop against a bold crimson backdrop, giving this room a contemporary Asian vibe. The glass backsplash shields the bright wall from wear. Design by Andreas Charalambous

Photo By: Geoffrey Hodgdon

Mediterranean Kitchen

Vibrant reds combined with earthy greens and golden yellows give this hacienda a rustic-chic charm. The Mediterranean style is characterized by aged textures and an oversized area for prepping large family meals. Design by Ashley Astleford

Spanish-Style Kitchen

Outfitted with gourmet amenities, this kitchen utilizes a bold color combination to rev up your appetite. Red tiled countertops against a yellow wall accentuate the Spanish-themed aesthetic. Photo by Greg Weiner. Design by Christopher J. Grubb

Photo By: Designer, Christopher J. Grubb

Cottage Kitchen

Red walls and white beadboard detail make this kitchen feel intimate and inviting without overwhelming. For the color-shy, putting a pop of red in the kitchen is a great place to begin incorporating color in your home. Design by Judith Balis

Photo By: Designer, Judith Balis

Industrial Modern Kitchen

Red is associated with fire and heat. When preparing food, red countertops give the perception of warmth, therefore tricking your senses and heightening your appetite. For balance, mix cool gray with this bold hue. Design by Roger Zierman

Photo By: Designer, Roger Zierman

Rustic Kitchen

An earthy red paired with wood tones can warm a room. This red island with beadboard design is the perfect element for a charming country kitchen. A rustic range and exposed wooden beams add depth to the architectural scheme.

How to Use Red

Use red on the walls to make a room feel more intimate, or feature the color on just one wall to visually rework the proportions of a long, narrow room. Different patterns and shades of red can work together to perk up a neutral dining room, or make a small dining alcove feel like a destination.

Black Chair and Red Paneling

Black Chair and Red Paneling

Red and black is a classic, dramatic combination. Photo courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

Red and black is a classic, dramatic combination. Photo courtesy of Brian Patrick Flynn

"Red is never boring," says interior designer Denna McLaughlin of City Studios. "A couple of big red chairs are inviting ... in a living room, but I also love red for drapery. When the light comes through the window, it gives the room a soft red glow that makes people want to be together."

When combined with other colors, red offers even more versatility. An earthy red used with wood tones can warm a room. Red with soft gray and touches of magenta can make a room feel cozy, feminine and soft.

Depending on the texture, deep reds may absorb light while brighter reds allow light to bounce off walls. Red with a touch of brown or purple will feel warmer than pure red with hints of pink. Orange-tinged reds will make you feel energized, while purple-red shades can make a space feel more intimate and quiet.

For Your Exteriors

Red can be a vibrant design element for your home's exterior. Red front doors are a popular choice, but consider using red paint or tile on the porch floor to create a striking effect.

"I also love red containers for outdoor plants," says color expert Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of the book Colors for Your Every Mood. "It's a natural complement for the greenery."

Ideas for Creating Moods With Red

  • A textured red linoleum floor with veining can give a kitchen a playful, retro vibe.
  • Use red on the inside back of a cupboard or china cabinet to add energy to a room.
  • Scarlet-lacquered walls with espresso trim make a dining room feel dramatic and elegant.

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