Representing passion, fertility, anger, blood and energy, no other colour evokes as many emotions as red. While some people are attracted to the energy of red, others find red too alarming and intense. This polar opinion of red is also represented culturally: while the Chinese consider red the colour of happiness and good luck, North Americans associate red more with danger and emergency (or junk food -- just as alarming!)
In home decor, red is such an energizing colour its over-use can quickly become furious and intense. Fearing such drama many homeowners avoid red altogether, but a lack of red is equally misguided.
How to use red
There are as many shades of red as personalities to match -- from faded rose to deep burgundy. Red works to neutralize cooler colours like greens and blues, giving a sense of warmth to the room. Red also brings life and energy to dull and uninviting spaces. You can easily introduce red to a room with flowers, throw cushions, vases or other accents (see page 2 for more accent ideas).
An eye-catching colour, red is used to draw attention towards an area in the room, whether to anchor the observer to the room's centre or to highlight a more stunning part of the room.
How to paint with red
With the right shade in the right place, red can also be appropriate for your walls. Designer Karl Lohnes highly recommends red for the dining room. "Red works to stimulate people's appetites and blood flow," he explains. "Try blue-based red (like burgundy or plum) for real drama as the blue-base darkens at night and helps to create a more dramatic atmosphere. These reds also look great with mahogany and other traditional wood tones most often found in dining rooms."
Karl also recommends red in the kitchen where there is usually a small amount of wall space. "In kitchens I suggest spicy, brown-toned reds as they are more natural," he says.
Consider Benjamin Moore's Raisin Torte (2083-10) for the dining room and Smoldering Red (2007-10) for the kitchen.