10 Rules for Red: The Dos and Don’ts of Decorating with Red Paint


During the winter doldrums, and into spring, many of us are thinking about how we can spiff up our homes and get some fresh zing into our décor. A splash of red may be just the right touch of excitement we’re looking to add. Red represents luck, good fortune, excitement, warmth, energy, romance, and yes, zing! Here’s some things to think about before painting your room (or town) red:

  1. Get inspired. There are lots of sites that offer inspiration for red décor. For starters, try CountryLiving.com‘s ideas on decorating with red. Then RealSimple.com offers advice on the best red for each room. And Valspar lets you try the colors out on virtual rooms, or even upload a photo of your own room and try their colors out online!
  2. Look into the light. Look at paint chips of the reds you like in bright sun, regular sun, nighttime and daytime, natural and artificial light. Most colors, but especially reds, change in different light. You’ll be looking at this red for years, be sure you like all it’s shades.
  3. Sample it. Most stores offer small samples of paint colors, so paint a swatch of the wall or furniture piece, and see what you think. Paint chips are great, but it’s nice to see what a larger patch of the color will look like.
  4. Make like a Scout: Be prepared! Clean walls, mask woodwork, protect floors, ceilings and adjoining walls, and have the right tools on hand. Not sure what that means? The DIY Network has a site with all the answers to your painting questions.
  5. Mix it up. Bold colors have more pigment and are prone to streaking. Mixing your paint thoroughly before you begin applying it makes a big difference. And if you use more than one can, mix the cans together in a container first, so you’ll have even color all around the room.
  6. Step back to view the forest AND the trees. Most of us don’t live in a one-room loft, so make sure your new décor compliments rooms with a view of your new spicy red room. A red throw pillow and afghan, a red picture frame, red candles and napkins, all of these are little and inexpensive touches of red you can add to adjoining rooms.
  7. Save an ounce of paint to cure future headaches. Using an old baby food or small canning jar, save a few ounces of paint for later touch-ups. When you move that end table and chip the wall, you’ll have an exact paint match ready to dab on the spot.
  8. Reduce, reuse, and recycle…really! Once the red paint dries, we may realize our old things don’t all match the new color. Relax. Chances are, you already have accents elsewhere in your home that go great with red. Instead of buying new, consider treasure-hunting through your home and repurpose some forgotten finds. It might be time to bring out the gold christmas candles, the valentine bowl, or swap the bedroom and living room chairs. Painted furniture can be repainted a complimentary color if it clashes.
  9. Thrifty, nifty, and wise. If you have enough leftover red at the end of your paint job, consider creating your own works of art. Bearing in mind the feel of the room, you can create the crowning touch. For country kitchens, stamp a border of hearts, chili peppers, or cherries on a valance or dishtowels. In a sleek modern living room, a clear vase with a swirl of red and black or white paint inside is the perfect vessel for twigs or as a stand alone piece. Matchy-matchy wooden candlesticks add interest to a dining room, and a plain white canvas with a sweeping hand painted heart or modernistic swatch of red can compliment a romantic bedroom.
  10. Take a chance! After all, it’s paint, if you change your mind after you’ve lived with it awhile, you can always paint over it. But it’s worth the try. Color affects mood, appetite, sex drive, and concentration. So give that paint a swirl and create a regal parlor, delicious dining room, cheery kitchen, or red-hot romantic bedroom!

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