How to work red into your interior colour scheme

With new, earthier tones replacing the brighter shades of recent seasons, red is the latest on-trend hue to use in your home.

Seeing red

The colour of love, passion and fiery emotion, red is one of the most high-energy hues you can use in the home. From classic crimson popping up as accents to larger swathes of earthier hues, red is now easier than ever to work into an interior scheme. Tones being used on walls are warm and nurturing, with a nod to nature – and our own sunburnt country – in the form of desert shades. Reduced reds, such as rust, burgundy, wine and berry, are becoming more popular for modern interior spaces.

Though totally on trend for 2019, these ‘reduced’ reds also have firm roots in the past, which makes them a good fit for an older-style home as much as a contemporary abode. Interior designer Melissa Lunardon explains, “Wine, terracotta and deep burgundy are a nod to the past, as they were used in Victorian times, and have now been reinvented.” 

Why we love it

While the brightest vermilions are visually loud, muddier reds are comfortable to live with. Deep reds are warm, intimate and cocooning, while rusts and terracottas evoke an exotic, tribal ambience that fits beautifully with the ‘global nomad’ trend of richly textured, bohemian interiors.

Colour psychology labels red as energising, making it an excellent choice in spaces where you want to stimulate conversation as well as appetite, which explains why it’s often seen in dining areas. Burgundy signifies sophistication and is commonly associated with high society. Its psychological seriousness combined with its powerful energy emits a sense of ambition. 

Even in its more muted incarnations, red makes a bold statement and instantly lifts a dull interior scheme. It draws attention and conveys a strong sense of personality and confidence in design decisions.

room with red door panels

How to use red

At the entry, red offers a warm welcome to guests. “Deeper reds look fabulous on a front door and scheme beautifully with the greys and neutrals trending on the exteriors of homes,” says Dulux colour expert Andrea Lucena-Orr. Inside, an entry hall is a good place to commit to burgundy, creating a cosy transition from outdoors to in. 

Though not every room lends itself to a titian transformation, there are spaces that look beautiful with a wash of red. “Formal dining rooms and formal entry areas look great in reds like British Paints Paint the Town, while in living areas, splashes of red add vibrancy,” says Kelly Magee of British Paints. Social rooms where you want to encourage conversation work well in red, though Melissa Lunardon warns, “Avoid bright red tones in an area where you rest, as it can overstimulate.”

Muted reds are also a natural fit for the outdoors; and the varied greens of garden foliage make for a much less ‘Christmassy’ pairing. Don’t overdo it, but a rich red or terracotta wall will accentuate your plants.

living room with red features
Go bold in the hall; wall in Dulux Carmen.

Perfect match

As red is such a strong colour, it’s wise not to pair it with hues that will fight too hard for attention, the idea is to soften the look, so your room is soothing to be in and not anxiety reducing. The right neutral can simultaneously tone down a red and allow it to sing. “Definitely neutrals such as sands and earthy grey green pair beautifully with reds,” says Andrea. “Greys and greiges look amazing alongside deeper reds.” Also in line with a desert-inspired palette, Kelly suggests teaming it with mustard, tan and suede hues. “Colours like British Paints Ginger Tea, Grainstore and Vast Estate would nautical-inspired pairing, but the new earthy reds can work equally well with a touch of blue. Rich and strong colours like burgundy pair well with stony white, gold and blue. Lighter reds, such as terracotta, make a sophisticated painting with navy, or with a brighter bluey-green for a vibrant Moroccan look. When picking a white to pair with your red, make sure you understand the undertones of the white to ensure it won't look too stark against the red. A cool crisp white works well with brighter reds, but deep earthy reds are better suited to soft, warm whites; for example, British Paints Winter Chic or Dulux Natural White.

outdoor garden with red feature wall

Pale terracotta pairs beautifully with fresh greenery.

Paint it red!

Get all your painting products to paint your next project red at your local Bunnings. While you're there, check out our range of decorator products to further spruce up your space.

bedroom with red feature wall

Wall in British Paints Paint The Town.

Photo credit: Cath Muscat, stylist Tilly Roberts, Lisa Cohen, stylist Bree Leech; Gap Interiors/Dan Duchars and British Paints; Brigid Arnott.


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