Published: February 8, 2014
he color of love, passion, danger and bloodshed can successfully wear another hat - homebody. But it's no couch potato.
Red makes an active, vibrant addition to any space, from the laundry room to the powder room. It can be used to accent neutral colors or pop other primaries.
Incorporating the color red into home decorating also isn't limited to the Valentine's Day and heart-smart focus of February.
But it's as good a time as any to start.
Nothing makes an intense statement like painting an entire wall red.
The idea works well in a living room or study but might be too much for a bedroom, says Katherine Speas, a Colorado Springs designer since 1981 and a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. Also, if the fire engine hue seems over the top for a wall, try a reddish brown shade and find throw rugs that have the same color in the design, she recommends.
"Red is a fun color to work with. Don't be afraid to use it. It adds a lot to a project," she says.
When Colorado Springs resident Greg Dunn was redoing his house in Pleasant Valley about 10 years ago, he remembered advice his Iowa farm parents handed down: "Paint everything white and put color in with drapes and pillows."
But he also recalled a bright red wall he saw in a warehouse apartment in a movie. His thought: "How cool."
He knew he wanted some color in the white-walled living room of his 1950s-era bungalow with cove ceilings. He kept coming back to that red wall.
"It seemed too crazy at first," Dunn said. "But I started looking at magazines, and I figured it wouldn't be overpowering but it would be distinctive."
Not only is the wall a conversation piece, it's also well-liked. Everyone who sees it thinks it's great, said Dunn, who works as an automotive entrepreneur.
A few vintage black-and-white photos, family pictures and a poster hang on the wall, but it mostly speaks for itself.
"Throughout the day, it changes color and personality," Dunn said. "When the shades are open, it's bright and alive. At night, it's mellow and subdued."
Due to the translucent nature of the color, it also took five coats of paint, instead of the usual two.
Would Dunn do it again? "Absolutely, in a second," he says.
Whether it's a splash in an oil painting, a strategically placed chair or decorative glass balls in a bowl, red objects become a focal point, says Marcia Wurm, a floral artist at Rich Designs.
"Red draws the eye," she says. "It'll bring things together."
The color fits with many decorating themes, including Native American, Asian, Western, retro and contemporary.
"Red can be crisp and fun," Speas says. "It creates an energy in design and a rhythm that weaves through the rooms."
In China, red stands for luck and happiness. It's the marriage color in India and symbolizes romance and courage in the United States.
Its richness produces a warmth in the home, Wurm says.
Jim Fry lost his Mountain Shadows home in the Waldo Canyon fire of 2012. His rebuilt home ironically features fiery accessories.
"Red is my favorite color," says Fry, a salesman.
You'll find a red washer and dryer in the laundry room; a red leather chair with a red duvet and pillow shams in the bedroom; and red-laced antique rugs and red piping on furniture in the living room - all with a Rocky Mountain West flavor.
Speas, who decorated Fry's home, incorporated pieces from Aspen, Vail, New Mexico, Denver and Colorado Springs.
"When it's mixed properly, red is stimulating as well as relaxing," Fry says.
"It's an accent color but it's so bold it brings a ton of warmth to my hardwood floors, granite counters and hickory cabinets. It just works."
Here and there
If you're not ready to go red for the long haul, try a few seasonal additions that can be changed out. Throw pillows, lampshades, bathroom towels, wall hangings, paintings, pottery, bar stools, table cloths and napkins, candles and decorative light strings are a good start.
Target, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart and Garden Ridge, a home d?or superstore that recently opened in the vacant Target on South Academy Boulevard, have plenty of affordable choices.
Custom upholstery also is available from businesses such as Rich Designs, where fabrics can be chosen to be made into seat and sofa cushions, pillows and lampshades.
For a super easy twist, vases with red Gerber daisies, paired with orange and yellow Gerbers, can brighten up a dining room or bedroom. Or switch out a regular light bulb for a party red bulb.
"Red is especially nice if you've got a lot of neutral tones," Wurm says, "but it really fits in any d?or. It's simple but an effective way to add color and interest."