Colour Scheme: Shocking Red

Using a single bold colour to bring light and dynamism to a dark corner is an old designer trick that still works well. We love the shock of a clear bright red, or an almost neon crimson that fairly vibrates with energy.

The ancient Chinese were masters at using red to enliven dark rooms filled with ornately carved wood. They understood, as you should too, that a little of this lively hue, expertly applied, goes a long way. While it’s usually best to just get out of red’s way and let it do its thing, there are contrasting shades that can temper its ferocity. Think of combining it with gentle pink for a Park Avenue feel, neon limes and yellows for a more retro, almost psychedelic, vibe.

If you’re hesitant, consider starting with touches of red in a foyer, hallway or mudroom, transitional spaces that are sometimes left behind when design is considered, and that are often darkish pass-through corridors to more lived in rooms. Make these forgotten corners special and worthy of lingering in with these great pieces:

Spicing up the Room

Stow coats and scarves in this fire-engine red retro-feel closet from Maisons du monde for £319. Add a charming footstool and you can see the theme developing. (£64.79)

Colouring the Corners

This metal coat and hat stand, also very red, adds to the vintage ambiance. £103.50 Remember when a home had one phone for the entire household to use, usually situated in the front entry or hallway? Revisit that retro vibe with this nostalgic rotary dial telephone in bright red. £35.99

Red Ranging Hood

Another room that does not require a full-on commitment to floor to ceiling vermilion for impact is the kitchen – here’s where bright pops of red can make cooking even more fun. Imagine the impact of an all white or pale pink kitchen with this spectacular red range cooker as a centrepiece. £2895 A matching extractor hood in gloss gilds the lily. £1014

Adding Redness to Appliances

The recent fashion for brightly coloured kitchen appliances definitely works in your favour when sourcing red. Charming hits of bright red work equally well to offset all-white or dark granite countertops. Great examples include Smeg’s toaster (and other small appliances in eye popping colours), Russel Hobbs’ legacy kettle, this Magimix blender and KitchenAid’s hand mixer. £98.10 -£179.99 You’ll want to leave them exposed rather than stowed. Top off your red theme with a bright metal pendant lamp or three over the breakfast bar, island or kitchen table. £87.98


Rediscovering the Lounge

Red is super sophisticated in a living room or lounge.

Red on the walls can be challenging (without a deft design hand, red walls can be claustrophobic and/or bordello-ish). But imagine this sleekly contemporary red velvet sofa with oak legs and matching armchair as a starting point. £950/£600


Store the bolsters and pile them high with an assortment of jewel toned velvet feather-filled scatter cushions. £25 each You could then build layers of red in additional textiles and draperies, or by using lighting and accessories such as this bright red metal octopus floor lamp. £87.98

Brightening Up the Senses

Another option for testing the bold colour waters involves taking a small and contained corner of the main living area and jolting it with a strong application of red. This club armchair could work as a base piece. £167 Add a few natural linen scatter cushions in pale pink or lime from Feather & Black for texture. £20


And then pick up the red with crimson draperies, or a special piece of artwork such as this stunning gicleé print from Magnus Gjoen. £2000

Using colour with confidence may not come naturally to everyone. But big rewards are available to those who take big risks. Just keep in mind all the positive associations of a colour such as red – in so many ways it is the colour of life – and use that to derive inspiration and courage. You may find that over time you grow to appreciate rooms with energy and dynamism, rooms that don’t aim to soothe, but rather stimulate the senses.

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All photos courtesy of respective locations.




Benjamin Drake: Ben is a painter and DJ and loves all things concrete, urban and handmade. Based in London, when he’s not working on an interior renovation, he’s riding his scooter down some alley or other in search of the perfect cortado.