Many, many years ago my parents painted their living room red. It was the most beautiful late 90’s color perfectly matched to the beautiful floral and stripe custom window valences. It was a gorgeous room in its day but to say it was a painful process, is an understatement. You see, this was before tinted primer was widely known about and it was such a beast to get it to cover that they proclaimed it would NEVER be painted again. Red forever and ever, amen. Here's how it looked as they transitioned into this millennium...
(do NOT judge by this picutre. This was years ago and just an example of trying to make red work through the decades.)
You might know how this story ends. They lived with it way longer than they actually liked it but eventually changed it for a more neutral hue and transformed their whole living area. We all have stories like this. Either it was a bad color decision we were forced to live with or a good decision at the time but that we were stuck with for way longer than we would like. This is why so many of us have a literal red flag when we see something like RED coming back into the design world in a big way.
First things first, let't take a look at what RED is looking like these days...
It's a little different, right? Even so red might not be your cup of tea but I want to do a really deep dive into this with an important question: Do trends matter? I think so but it’s not why you probably think.
Why Trends Matter:
I would never, ever recommend chasing a trend just because it’s a current or “in.” We could never keep up and for every person that says it is “the” thing, there is going to be another saying it’s a crime against your home. But I kind of see a trend, especially one as specific as the color red, as a lightbulb moment for us. It’s a source of inspiration and looking at things a little differently. We can examine how it’s used… trim and millwork, classic wallpaper, textiles. We can look at the range of colors from tomato red to deep burgundy reds (note: I’m not seeing the blue toned red of the late 90s anywhere but I could be wrong) and just take note that it’s something different from the sea of grays and whites we’ve been seeing for so long. While we’ve been tracking for more saturated colors for the last few years, I feel like this is where we really see a huge shift back to color. It doesn’t get any more colorful than RED. To me, this is a very good thing. We went too long with everything basically gray washed and I think it was too much of a good thing.
How I’m going to use red:
I really don’t ever see myself painting walls red but the more I look at how so many creative designers are using it, I’m a bit more open to how it might work for me. In fabrics, or patterns or even maybe a small red piece of furniture. I used red curtains in my first house and loved them so much. While I wouldn’t repeat solid red, I kind of like the idea of a vintage red plaid.
Here’s what’s funny. I would still call red my favorite color, but I don’t use it very much. I have this red runner in my foyer that I love. I can actually place it in any room of my house and it’s perfection. I’ve had it since our old house when as much as I loved my kitchen upgrades, they felt a bit cold (white cabinets, gray floor, go figure), so I bought this red rug about 8 years ago and it’s still following me around. Because it is timeless and just enough. Like red nail polish.
So for now, I’m not going all in on the red trend but I might add little hints here and there to see how I like it. I'm just putting this out there, I have been planning the perfect green cabinetry in my laundry room forever but if I suddenly had some cabinets appear sooner than later, I might maybe may, consider the perfect red. hmmm...
Maybe I’ll get more adventurous.
How to use RED:
I’m going to go ahead and repeat myself that I’m not thinking all red walls are my thing. Take a scroll above again. Do you see how it's more concentrated to trim, shelving and balanced with classics? That keeps things timeless and just enough. But if you want to be even less committed to testing the trend, here are a few suggestions:
1. Pillows: try a pattern and not solid. Think something with a vintage, classic feel not too themey.
2. Flowers: grab yourself some flowers in red. Classic roses look great anywhere and if you want to go faux, these tulips are the very best
3. Small Furniture: Add the perfect red to maybe a small side table, chair or bench or even the back of a bookcase. Just let me warn you... be very careful of red spray paint. It's gloopier (that's a technical term😉) that any other paint. Use it carefully and let it cure before touching or anything like that. If you're a painting novice, try Dixie Bell paints from the Eagleville Mercantile.
4. Towels: Grab these red towels for your kitchen and see how you feel about that pop of red. It's a great way to test red and get some really good towels. ( I love these! they get softer and better with every wash!) Bonus tip: Who says you have to use them as towels only? They would make great napkins so set your table and test your red threshold even more!