Few colors are more attention-getting than red. As the most sensual of the primary colors, red represents the polar ends of emotion – from anger (seeing red) to joy (paint the town red) to love (my love is like a red, red rose.) It connotes passion, power, danger and celebration.
Red’s intensity is difficult to diminish – even diluted with other colors like white, black or brown, red always commands any palette where it’s included. Red adds the spice, which is one of the reasons it’s considered a sexy color (lady in red) and it’s the preferred color for romance (Valentine’s Day.) Women have painted their lips, cheeks, fingernails and toes red for centuries.
A recent multicultural study at the University of Rochester shows that red is also appealing for men. From the U.S., England, Germany and China, women found men pictured in red clothing to be more sexually attractive than while wearing other colors. Perhaps red’s boldness helped the women conclude that men who wear red are higher are wealthier or higher in social status, but not that the men were necessarily more likeable or kind.
Status is also a consideration in decorating. To make visitors to your home feel the most welcome, you treat them as if they have high status by “rolling out the red carpet.” In Middle Eastern societies, hand-made, vegetable-dyed rugs are highly valued for entries and for honored guests to sit upon while being entertained.
Red brings any part of your décor forward, front and center, so the items you want to have the most attention are well served by coloring them in red or pointing to them with red accents. Placing a favorite painting on a red wall is a wonderful way to draw attention to your art collection. Placing red throw pillows or a throw on a beige sofa is a great way to add vitality to a neutral decorating palette.
According to Color Wheel Pro, shades and tints of red have special meaning:
Light red - joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity, and love
Pink - romance, love, friendship
Dark red - vigor, willpower, leadership, courage
Brown - stability
Reddish-brown – harvest and fall
Use red in your decorating when you want a room to be filled with energy and spirit. Reds as a main color or as accents are great choices for entries, dining rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.
Infopleanse.com suggests that red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing, so use it in rooms where you want to raise or complement the energy level. You can’t go wrong with red in entries, kitchens and dining rooms, and in bedrooms.
Raise the chroma or intensity of red by keeping as close to primary red as possible. To tone it down or up, add white to produce red moving toward pink, and black to produce an earthier red. A splash of yellow will make red more coral or red brown. A splash of blue will make red more purple.
To see the true impact of red, grab fabric and paint samples to see how red interacts with other colors. Beiges and browns can calm an intense red, while the red can make a calm blue color scheme a little more exciting. Reds and golds are opulent together, while reds and whites tend to be more casual, as in country or coastal décor.
Whichever red you choose, have fun with it. There’s a good reason why red is included in nearly every holiday color scheme from the Christmas holidays to Valentine’s Day to the fourth of July – it can be a very happy color.