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Decorating with Red on a Budget

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Decorating with Red on a Budget

This high, red ceiling turns this otherwise bland room into a vibrant, creative space.

Photo © KellyB/flickr

Once relegated to certain (shall we say) districts, red has now become a decorating classic as popular as taupe or beige. Strong and vibrant, it lends personality to any space that it enters and never, ever goes unnoticed.

The only problem with red is that homeowners tend to love red a bit too much. Red stands on its own and needs no introduction but it in the hands of inexperienced decorators, red can quickly become overpowering and ineffective as a design element.


    Tips for Decorating with Red
  • Start small. Red is a bit of a show-off and doesn’t need a lot of competition. A few red accents such as a vase, pillow or artwork can star as the focal point of a room. Scatter reds about your space in varying shades to give the eye something to follow.

  • Use a slight hand with red. Without restrait, what looks great on a paint sample can quickly become “the red room.” Very few rooms have the architectural detailing to handle red walls, and even an accent wall painted red can become a bit tiresome. If you are itching to paint something red, try going with red on your furniture. A glossy red can make that Queen Anne reproduction chair really pop and soft, distressed reds can transform an old trunk or dresser.

  • Avoid the Crayola look. Red does best when it is mixed with lighter or more muted hues. Paring red with colors of the same intensity can start to look like a pre-school finger painting. For best results, mix and match your colors, blending high and low intensity colors. (Think cherry red mixed with sky blue and white; or deep red mixed with slate green and chocolate; or orange red mixed with clear yellow and citron green.)

  • Surprise with red. Red is a great peek-a-boo color and, if played right, can bring lots of fun into your space. Paint the back of a bookshelf (or the wall directly behind an open-backed shelf) red. Paint a red faux headboard (just tape off a funky headboard shape & paint). Try red on the kickboard under your kitchen cabinets or along the backsplash, or paint a window’s molding red to frame the outside world.
    Tips for Staying in Budget when Decorating with Red
  • Red is more than one holiday’s signature color so look for red seasonal decor items that have been slashed during post-holiday sales. That red damask tablecloth that didn’t sell at Christmastime may look fabulous all year long!

  • Don’t feel pressured to match your reds. Vintage finds that are faded red can look great alongside your orangey-red rug and that scarlet red pinstripe chair. Using what works, not necessarily what matches, can save loads of money.

  • Use natural elements. Red apples or flowering plants can be an economical way to add pops of red to a space. Plants also enliven a room and can be beneficial for indoor air quality.

  • To save money and lend a personal touch to your space, incorporate handmade items. Check out yard sales or flea markets, or make your own. Etsy’s search portal allows users to search specifically for red handmade housewares.

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