Rethinking Red.

When people ask me what my least favorite color is to paint walls I almost always say red.  I just have never been a fan, particularly of cranberry.  It always feels dated to me. Except all of the sudden I feel the tide changing.  For example, a couple episodes ago I was watching Downton Abbey and when this scene came on in a bright, crisp red room with white trim and gilt frame paintings I gasped. Literally. It was so stunning!
Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.45.51 PM

It got me thinking- I love coral and pink walls of any shade so why not red?  When the right shade is in play in the right rooms, I actually find myself drawn to red now.  I prefer brighter reds with more orange tones to them for a more modern, bold feel as opposed to deep, dusty colonial-looking shades.  Here are some rooms I’m liking the use of red in!



(I love red paired with turquoise. It’s such a modern coupling.)








To be fair, I’ve never disliked a hint of red in interiors- like killer red velvet sofas for example:



In my attempt to make peace with red walls, here are some of my favorite red paints in a variety of tones:


Try pairing these reds with light violet, pink or turquoise for a modern pairing!

Do you have a color you have always disliked in homes? What is it?


29 Responses to “Rethinking Red.”

  1. F says:

    I completely agree about the red! The other color that is not my favorite, especially in kitchens and bathrooms, is that butter/wheat/mustard color yellow.

  2. Julie says:

    I couldn’t agree more! And I even saved that episode of Downton because it the interiors were so gorgeous.

  3. Carter P says:


  4. Erin says:

    Omg yes! Super buttery yellow or fleshy peach beige are my other two least faves!!!

  5. Sarah says:

    It’s really the red accent wall, popularized by Trading Spaces, that is so repulsive. I can get on board with red generally.

  6. alison g. says:

    I’ve always been down with red – maybe because I’m a fire sign (Leo). With you, though, on the cranberry/maroon – I can’t, just can’t.

    Another color I can’t deal with: sage green.

  7. Kathleen says:

    A few years ago almost everyone in my town painted the dining room red. I never worked IMHO because everything else about the look was BLAH. I adore red but it’s hard for amateur to pull it off.

    I really dislike purple and black (sorry) walls.

  8. Liza Miller says:

    I love all these pairings, but I don’t think I could live with red in my house. Unless I lived at Downton :)

    Maroon is one of the most vomit-inducing, but I really hate terracotta and any colors associated with a “Southwestern” theme (unless you’re actually IN the Southwest!).

  9. Abby says:

    All of those pictures have me rethinking my previous opinions on red walls too!


  10. I ADORE the coral red you picked for my dining room!

  11. Maura says:

    “Hunter Green”, maroon & mustard. My first job out of school was working in the buying offices of Montgomery Ward and ALL of the furniture we sold featured a combination of those colors. Those 3 colors, especially working together, represent the worst of the worst for me!

  12. Kati says:

    Use that red/turquoise room in one of your interior vs. fashion posts – one of the outfits I remember most from SATC, because the colors were just stunning to me, was Carrie in the park in red pants and a turquoise jacket! Does anyone else remember that?

  13. jillian says:

    i like red with bold white trim. but it still wouldnt be my first choice for a room color. xo jillian – cornflake dreams

  14. Michelle says:

    Oh yes RED!!! I saw a huge room in a Canal House in Amsterdam that was a beautiful lipstick red, with a giant crystal chandelier in it. I just stood there staring, trying to get a photo, until the owner came out and I didn’t want to seem like a perv…even though I totally am.

  15. That exact image from Downton Abbey has been indelibly etched in my mind, too — those dreamy pastel dresses against that strikingly rich backdrop is simply mesmerizing! DA seems to be consistently “spot on” with colors that are au courant: emeralds, then lilacs in the past two seasons, and now pastels. I think that walls done in a red softened by either raspberry or orange can create a timeless warmth, and a bold red in a few small doses can add great pops of color to enliven a room.

  16. Red!!! ;)

    It still makes me feel like I am short of breath…

  17. Meredith says:

    When we bought our house, the dining room was already red. I hate red in homes, but my husband LOVES it! I sacrificed my design integrity and never painted, but I have never liked that room. Thank you for the inspiration pics! I got some great ideas so the hubs AND I will be happy!

  18. barchbo says:

    Beige. Tan. Oatmeal. Nothing on that spectrum will grace my home or walls. It’s a terrible color for me – I certainly don’t want it as a backdrop for my life.

    My sister had a red sitting room with turquoise accents – I loved it. As long as it’s not beige! :)

  19. Patricia Flournoy says:

    Thank you for the Red Reference chart…The RIGHT red can be stunning…the Wrong one dark, dull and dreary…I am rethinking Red …

  20. Sarah D. says:

    I painted an old dresser the Benjamin Moore “Salsa” color you have listed & I love it. I didn’t think I could handle it on the walls, but you are making me reconsider…

  21. deb says:

    …….with you; istruggle with red & do not have any in my wardrobe, either!

  22. Lisa Mende says:

    this is funny! when i moved into my house my living room was chili pepper and i thought it was the bomb that was 1995, of course i painted it like too years later…have hated red til lately. now it must be coming back because i kinda like it again…

  23. franki says:

    Let’s hear it for that red library!!! franki

  24. Andi says:

    Not sure I could be so bold as to go with a red wall, but I love these images!

  25. I’m glad you have decided to give red a second chance – go Downton! I like rooms that make the people in them look good, you wouldn’t wear a dress in a bad color for you, would you? So I would have to say yellow. Can’t do yellow. Or a lot of boring beige and taupe. I want the room to have life!

  26. When done correctly red can have a wonderful impact. When done wrong, it it terrible. I find that fabrics in red applied to the walls can work well, like in Downton. Red can also be a glorious backdrop for oil paintings, particularly the hunt scenes and oversized portraiture….it breaks up the expanse of red. I think that is why I am drawn to the Downton room, and also to the room with the zebra under the table….the red is broken up by pattern and lighter solid colors. Nice selection of rooms!

  27. Heleen says:

    I have had a living room in a juicy orange red with White Dove trim. It was great although after living with it for awhile the energy of the room got to be too intense. If I ever have a house in the future with two living areas I would consider red again though!

  28. Wow Red is definitely IN! I used to believe having color “red” in the interior (As most Psycholigst would say) makes you feel hungry all the time. But having the perspective of getting you guest be hungry and drooling over your beautiful interior is totally a different thing (hahaha LOL). Red is going to be perfect with my white furniture and fixtures. Thanks for sharing this. This is totally stunning!

  29. see what i am saying to you about you being a paint maven!