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Red – Top tips on how to use it in your home

It’s Valentines day tomorrow, so let’s talk about the colour RED. Long held colour of love, danger, and energy and it is found in nature and man made environments the world over to signify all three. All heightened emotions, this may be the reason why many people shy away from using red in their homes.

Some clients have told me they think red is either too flashy, too strong or they simply can’t see how it will work with their other possessions. Of course there are so many different shades of red it can be a daunting task to choose which colour and where or how to use it. Used cleverly, red can be a stunning and uplifting colour to have in your home and I would love to see it more.

So I have put together a list of How To’s using spaces that I think really pull off this most under-rated of colours in an interior.


1. Neutral Interiors with splashes of red

Greys and other neutrals have become the norm and they have become staples in the western world. They need to be used with care however, if left on their own a space will instantly become insipid and un-inspiring. A neutral backdrop can be lifted by adding a strong red feature in an un-expected way. Here, this red carpet works beautifully with these Farrow and Ball greys in what would otherwise be a boring hallway. The red gives weight to the painting which becomes the single thing to look at in the space – whilst red is the strong accent here, it makes the painting the focal point so it does not become lost.


This large, country living room is made contemporary by cleverly mixing a South American rug, and red touches in the upholstery and furniture. A Sputnik light, vintage wall chandelier and battered leather club chair seem incongruous yet all work in this space together without clashing because the bold red accents evoke a natural feeling of eclecticism and travel. I can’t imagine any other colour doing the same job so well.

Use red to create focus on other elements in a room either by drawing attention directly or by making one subliminally aware of pattern or shape within a space.


2. Creating Focal Points and punctuating a space

In this modern space designed by architects Tigg and Coll, the steel installed for the extension has been painted bright red to make a statement of it rather than to disguise it. I love it’s strong impact in this structured room, and I love the the way it distinguishes between old and new spaces, all otherwise pulled together by continuous brickwork and flooring.


This lovely library featured in House and Garden is in a country style interior with classic vintage fittings. Installing this sharp, modern chair upholstered in rich red velvet instantly contemporises the space and harmonises this whole corner with it’s mass of books, weathered painted floorboards and etched windows.

Use red as an in your face statement about an area in a room sending a message about the space itself.


3. Red everywhere

If you are brave enough to go all out and paint everything red, you would not be disappointed.

Muted reds and burnt oranges work harmoniously together and create a cosy environment. Make sure to keep it modern however by using shapes that are sharp and structured and blending in up to date 21st century design pieces like this side table in a flat metal finish. Keeping floorboards and rug light – again grey is the neutral colour – means the space is light and airy, but red is the dominant feature here.


You could take a leaf out of designer Tamara Honey’s book and go hell for leather with a blend of reds and dark inky blue-blacks. This look isn’t for the faint hearted but if you have the luxury of lots of space at home, one cosy dining area decorated in this way for winter eating could be a great foil to a fresh, outside summer eating spot. This is an example of if you are going to do it, don’t do it by halves and wear it well.

Use red to show off your personality – it can be anything from warm, comfortable and inviting lounging space to a strong, mad, party pad.


4. Red in the bedroom

Many people do not want red in a bedroom as they think it too energetic for the room. These French clients of mine love hot colours and were open to using alot of red in their home. Strong geometrical patterns and a little sliver of red material in the handmade light fitting offset an otherwise neutral interior. The bedroom has a really bold splash of invigorating colour but is still calm and relaxing. I have kept the rest of the room tonally light and neutral so the space is still restful.

Use red as an invigorating and energising colour through pattern and balancing with pale neutrals for calm.


5. Red in the bathroom

This large period bathroom pulls off a vast swathe of red and still feels like a soothing place to be. The blue tone in this particular shade is cool and calm and the simple black and white diamond tiles, white accessories and fixtures keep the space light. The fittings are traditional but the way the colour is used so boldly gives a very modern feel to a traditional room.


This bathroom from Living Etc. is really playful and uses red as a statement in a different way. The fittings are contemporary and sleek and would most often be teamed with architectural lines in the room. Here, by using a traditional mirror and fabrics, the red comes into its own and unifies the two looks. Grout comes in all manner of colours and I love how the hexagonal tiles have been picked out using red grout. This is simple design pushing the boundaries – an example of how you can really play with colour, pattern and fittings…..taking it to the edge works better than tinkering on the sidelines and this example shows this well.

Use red to as a counter balance to your fittings – bring traditional fittings up to date, or soften smooth, architectural pieces to make them less stark.


6. Styling with red

If the idea of red in large, permanent fixtures is still too much for you, there are plenty of ways you can show your bold and feisty side through interesting styling. One of my favourite brands, Timorous Beasties, produces stunningly vibrant fabrics in clashing colours and seemingly iridescent tones. They also produce prints that are super modern and art in themselves. This toile de jouy style print has been upholstered onto a classic wooden chair which was painted black to bring it bang up to date.


I bought some off cuts of this Timorous beasties material from my upholsterer and decided against using them on furniture. To me, as beautiful as art, I had them box framed and have hung them on my office walls. I see new shapes in them every time I look at them and they give me the invigorating colour I want in my workspace, whilst keeping it neutral enough for me to design for others.



Use red prints and fabrics to create artistic statements in your home. This colour used so often in nature for “danger” immediately captures your attention – pick a pattern that you love in red and use it in areas that you want to see it.


7. Decorative objects – a nod to red

Sometimes, all it takes is a well placed flamingo to show off your bold and interesting side – and there is nothing wrong with that.

Use red sparingly if that is all you want. It is an uplifting colour and dotting it around your home will give you an energy in your personal space and make you more aware of your surroundings. At Velvet Orange we work hard to do just that – make you aware of your surroundings and make you feel something within them. Red is a gorgeous colour that can put a spring in your step but also make you feel safe, calm and cosseted – it is a colour I would love to see more of in our homes.


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