- Decorating, Home Decorating & Interior Design

Red As the New Neutral

(ARA) - Throughout history, red has grown to symbolize passion and power. Whether in hate or love, red stirs our emotions and passions, a life force. On stage it evokes danger and deceit. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Indians believed that the color would energize and heal, actually increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Some therapists say that people who favor this color know how to enjoy life and are assertive, full of energy, vitality and passion, and are definitely not timid.
There is no subtlety with red. It will gain your attention no matter where it is used -- on business memos, fire trucks, traffic signs and in fashion and home decor. It is no coincidence that designers are adopting this persuasive and complicated color. Taking a tip from interior designers, remember that red does not need to be brash, only dramatic. This warm color works best when used either a little or a lot. In large quantities, it defines the setting, such as a dining room to enhance the appetite. In small portions, red is a wonderful accent for any other color, when used in the same intensity.

With a warm yellow mustard, a hot red brings thoughts of a Mediterranean countryside. With a deep green, red evokes warmth and masculinity. Blue with red is patriotic. For a Southwest feel, include blue and orange. For true drama, if you dare, gold and red are luxurious. Bold red with stark white gives a feeling of formality; however, that same red with beige trim or accents speaks more of a casual décor.

When using a softer palette, rose red with lime green invoke visions of watermelons and summer drinks. Pale greens also make a wonderful background for orange-red accents, and as a pastel, a light red with white is fresh and sunny.

Papering a room is an instant makeover and, if red is used, there is vibrancy and style. Wallpaper is coming back as a timeless classic. “Wallpaper is like meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s comfort food for the walls,” says Phillip Ostler, Los Angeles chapter president of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers. We remember Grandma’s kitchen with red and white checks or cherries. Perhaps there were red and beige cabbage roses on bedroom walls or in the dining or living room.

Memories of casual gatherings, playing Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit, with popcorn and soft drinks, are being rediscovered as more people are staying home to entertain. There is a trend toward cocooning and looking to the past for comfort. Red has always been, and will continue to be, an important color element in home decorating.

Most consumers, however, are afraid of color, especially red. They won’t use it for fear of making a mistake. The easiest way to experiment with strong color is to use it in small areas first, such as a toile fabric pillow on a side chair or a checked tablecloth in the kitchen. Try wallpapering an area where people don’t linger for long, such as an entry foyer, mudroom or laundry room. Move up to hanging a brightly colored border or use wallpaper on one wall of a room as an accent.

Red accents in the timeless designs of berries, apples, flags, and roosters are being featured by Chesapeake Wallcovering in their new collection, Peace and Plenty. Here the consumer will find soft, blended, traditional colors, such as burgundy and garnet red in patterns that will connect them to the past, but will work with both classic and country décor.

Interior designers have many innovative ideas for wallpaper that can be used by practically everyone. Striped wallpaper, for example, can be hung horizontally to lower a room with a high ceiling. A paneled wall effect can be inexpensively obtained by hanging one width of paper 20 inches from both the floor and the ceiling. Outline with a coordinating border or with molding. Don’t forget that there is a fifth wall in every room, the ceiling. Using a border above the wall or crown molding, on the ceiling, brings the eye upward, making the room appear taller.

Conversely, using a border along the baseboards will draw attention downwards, perhaps to highlight a beautiful wood floor. Using a narrow wallpaper border over the seam of an open small print will give the room a striped effect. Or measure out the plain wall and hang the border vertically for stripes. When finished hanging, cut out a design from the wallcovering and decoupage lamp shades or cut a single design element, such as a group of red apples and attach to room or window corners.

In the kitchen, add a bold, but homespun flair with a red-checkered tablecloth over a white table with white shutters at the window. Laying tile on the diagonal and hanging lattice-patterned wallpaper give the illusion of fresh air and openness. Replace hooks with red antique or antique-looking glass knobs for hanging kitchen towels.

In an entry area, a high backed, red painted settee adorned with yellow pinstriped seat cushions against a wall with a small yellow floral print is both refined and casual. Instead of hanging only pictures on the wall, use a variety of shelving, plates, mirrors, and architectural remnants, some of them red, to give both character and style to the room.

A dull beige sofa can be brought to life in a dull room with red and blue patterned toss pillows and a subtle beige and red wallcovering. A side table with a red lamp and a stack of red books will inexpensively bring new life to an old piece of furniture. For today’s décor, for every room, red is truly the new neutral.

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Courtesy of ARA Content
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