It’s the colour of passionate romance and thundering rage, the hue of choice for everything from sleek sports cars and old-school power ties to knockout nail polish. Sexy or sweet, rugged or regal, red always gets noticed.
And, according to interior designers, it’s a secret weapon if you want to add a burst of style and energy to your home without major expense or effort.
“Red is one of those statement colours,” says designer Janine Carendi. Even in small doses, “it is something that can really ignite a room.”
It’s also a mood-lifter. “Going into spring, it’s a lively, happy colour,” says designer Mallory Mathison. “But it’s not pastel, so it’s unexpected. It has that ‘wow’ factor.”
In this season of bargain hunting, here’s your guide to seeing red — and using it affordably — to bring a fresh look and distinctive energy to your home.
YOUR GO-TO COLOUR
Designer Brian Patrick Flynn calls it “the bold neutral.” There are shades of red to match any colours already in your home. Browns, blues, pinks, oranges, greys, black and white – “red even looks really good with lime green,” he says. “And depending on what you pair it with, it becomes more masculine or feminine.”
Red can be traditional (warm, deep reds like cranberry and cinnamon) or modern (brighter, lighter shades like true red or cherry), and it works as well with homey French country interiors as it does with elegant, Asian-inspired ones.
It’s also a quick-fix colour. It can brighten a room that gets little sunlight or give a facelift to a room that feels dated. “So many people have been doing blue and brown for such a long time,” says Mathison. “Weed out the blue and add in red.”
In traditional rooms that feel a bit stuffy, Flynn suggests covering formal wood panelling with flat red paint: “It’s clean and serene and more modern.”
If you have an old piece of furniture or accessory that’s functional but worn, paint it red. A bold, red lacquer finish “breathes new life into just about any piece and instantly makes it the star of the room,” Flynn says.
For small pieces, like chairs, lamps or vases, regular cans of spray paint should work. For large pieces, consider renting a sprayer (the technical name is HVLP, or high-volume low-pressure sprayer) from a home improvement store. The cost is minimal, Flynn says, and the units come with instructions (the store may also offer tips on using it).
“You probably wouldn’t wear an entire red outfit, but you can have red nails and pretty red lipstick or a handbag. So think that way in your home,” says Mathison.
Search your home for items to group together, like books with red covers and pieces of art that include the colour red.