“When people walk into a red room, they immediately respond,” says New York City interior designer Scott Sanders. Color experts describe red as a stimulating shade. It grabs focus (think stop signs and fire engines) and, on walls, becomes the defining element of a space. High-octane orange-tinted tones make you feel energized and alive, while subtler, old-fashioned purplish shades―burgundy, maroon, brick―can evoke the cozy, insular vibe of, say, an 18th-century library. Either way, “red is a statement color,” says New York City interior designer Janine Carendi MacMurray. So choose your reds carefully, and if you’re risk averse, get your infusion through objects rather than paint.
2 of 24J. Savage Gibson / My Home Ideas
Red adds drama to any room—even one as utilitarian as the kitchen. (The color is also said to stimulate the appetite, so it’s a natural here.)
3 of 24Pieter Estersohn/ My Home Ideas
Because red is such an intense color, it holds up to strong accessories, like this over-the-top mirror.
4 of 24Erik Kvalsvik / My Home Ideas
Or Use Red in Doses
If you’re not ready to commit wholly, try red as an accent, pulling it in through draperies or furniture. Pick a wall color—like chocolate brown—that grounds it.
5 of 24Jeff McNamara
Make a Room Pop
In an otherwise neutral palette, even a restricted amount of red can liven a space.
6 of 24 Grant Cornett
It’s not just the tone but also the finish that can make red paint perfect or problematic. Carendi MacMurray offers her top picks.
Best Red for a Living Room
Currant Red 1323* “With chocolate brown furnishings, this will make a space feel instantly inviting.”
Because the color is so visually arresting, “even one red piece can transform a bland room,” says Carendi MacMurray. Red furnishings work well with pale and dark neutrals―white walls, wood floors, natural stone―or as a rich matte counterpoint to metallics.
11 of 24Grant Cornett
Best Red for a Dining Room
Picture Gallery Red 42 “Gorgeous with a brass chandelier and particularly beautiful by candlelight.”
Top it with a pretty bowl to complement its curves.
To buy: Jacqui tea table, $713, Bungalow5, 201-405-1800.
18 of 24Annie Schlechter
As punctuation in a room of neutrals, red is an instant-makeover color capable of enlivening large areas with little effort. A rule: Pick one red and stick with it―competing tones can feel chaotic. And exercise restraint. Sprinkle reds here and there (not everywhere) for hits of color, rather than wallops.
19 of 24 Grant Cornett
A whimsical touch in an all-white kitchen, or a cute kids’ hamper.
To buy: : Unfortunately, this item is no longer available.
20 of 24Grant Cornett
Perfect for making a formal sofa look a little less stiff.
To buy: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available, but find a similar pillows at jonathanadler.com.
21 of 24Grant Cornett
A look-at-me classic that makes wall art unnecessary.
To buy: Vitra Sunburst clock by George Nelson, $430, nova68.com.
22 of 24 Grant Cornett
The flowy botanical pattern is graphic without being cold.
To buy: : Unfortunately, this item is no longer available, but find rugs at dashandalbert.com.
23 of 24 Grant Cornett
A pair of these puts a youthful spin on a dark, traditional sideboard.