Hot and fiery, bold and dramatic, passionate and daring, red is a color that draws reaction. When we think of using red in our homes, most of us are tempted but quickly back down from the commitment to such a strong color….Will we really love that wall in red? Will a red sofa be too much of a statement? Will red drapes be too strong against our wall color?
Red Doesn’t Have to be Full Strength
Remember my post from last Monday about tints, shades and tones? You don’t have to use full strength, all out pure red to reap the benefits of the color. Like every other color, red has it’s good and it’s ugly (remember mauve?). What you have to determine is your tolerance for the boldness of the color. A wall is TOO much red? Buy a vase. Window coverings in red are too much? Buy a throw. Don’t like the pure, bright primary red? Use a more livable terra cotta or rose. Whichever route you choose, red will make a positive impact on your room.
(photo sources clockwise from the top - orchid: Gump $60; Chinese console: Wisteria $819; drapes: Smith+Noble; chaise: Ikea; floral rug: by Amy Butler for Chandra; bookcase: Linnarp by Ikea $349; pillow: Pier 1 $35; Italian leather desk & ottomans: Tonic Home; media cabinet: Crate and Barrel $599)
Every color has an emotional impact on us. Study after study has been done proving that colors can affect our moods and energy levels. As you might suspect, red is the strongest, most powerful color in a decorator’s palette. It’s full of energy and punch. Red is known to increase respiration and heart rate, increase your energy, your appetite and your passion. Lighter reds to pinks tend to reflect romance and affection while darker reds and burgundys are associated with willpower, leadership, and courage but also anger and malice. Sounds like a pretty touchy color, doesn’t it?
Use Red WHERE?
Knowing what we know about how red can make us feel, it’s not too hard to figure out where to use the strong color. Since it’s such an attention getting color, use it in rooms where you want to enhance energy, creativity or eating (frequently restaurants use a variety of reds) like your craft room (or closet as the case may be), your family room or your dining room. Although it’s known to inspire passion and romance, don’t use red in its purest forms in the bedroom – it’s too full of energy and you might have trouble sleeping. Instead, choose something from the softer side of red - still lots of romance, but not so energetic.
Red in small spaces will work beautifully – a powder room, a study, or just one wall of a room. It can be deep and dramatic because the impact will be contained in the space. Let me say it again ….. if you don’t have the need or nerve to have an all red room or wall, use it in smaller doses to raise your energy level every time you look at that piece of art or collection of red vases on a window ledge or deep red throw on your tan sofa.
Places not to use red? An active child’s bedroom or playroom (who wants to increase that frantic kid activity?); any place you want to encourage quiet, contemplative activities; kitchen walls – it will give the feeling of extra heat.
Colors to Use With Red
Red’s complementary color is green. In fancy designer speak that means they are opposite each other on the color wheel (yeah, so?) which means that red and green paired together are a good bet for a strong color scheme. The other thing to know about complementary colors is that when you add the complement to its opposing color it reduces the intensity or grays down the color beautifully without introducing an undertone (remember those pesky yellow/orange or blue/green undertones from last week?).
Red and green as a color scheme work best in their muted forms – terra cotta and olive or rich burgundy and forest green rather than the purer colors which will likely feel too Christmasy. In my opinion, red works in just about every home and color scheme – red and black: strong and dramatic; red and gold: traditional and comforting; red and blue: can be country or modern….soothed by the blue, red is calmer and livable; red and yellow or orange: bold, daring and vibrant.
Feng Shui – Fire Element
In Feng Shui red represents the Fire element. Red in the home is used to enhance transformation. “Lots of fire energy in a home encourages lots of changes in the lives of those who live there. Fire energy helps you expand, open up to new and ideas and ways of being. It gives you the push to share your gifts with the world.” (Feng Shui Chic by Sharon Stasney) A balanced use of warm red tones throughout the home can provide creative inspiration and energy to work on projects.
However, too much of a good thing can have negative results. Fire’s (red) association with heat gives it an explosive characteristic. Too much strong red can increase your feelings of anger or your ability to complete projects.
Adding red to your home can be easy using Feng Shui. The Fire element is represented by illumination: lighting and candles. It also encompasses anything made creatively or anything that inspires you such as sculpture and art, poetry, music, treasures and sacred objects. Remember the reds brought into your home don’t have to be full strength and can be in small quantities through the items listed – yet you’ll reap the benefits of increased energy and creativity.
Find Your Path to Red
With all this inspiration, surely you’ve thought of a place or two to incorporate some shade of red into your home this year. If you already use red in your home, share your success with us. If you’re going to change a room to add red, we’d love to see that too. I’m thinking red in my office….hmmm maybe that will keep me creating and blogging with energy!
You can read about more inspiring colors and things at Inspired Room’s link party.