Color Combinations: Pacifying Red

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Source: via Christa on Pinterest

In our next installment of the Color Combinations series (yes, I know, it’s been a while, but forgive my brain for going in a bunch of different directions!), we’ll be looking at my personal favorite color: red.

Red is the color of danger, aggressive and punchy. But it’s also the color of love, of blood and of fire. Red attracts attention, that’s for certain; did you know that there are more stolen cars that are red than any other color?

In home decor, a little red has a huge impact. As we’ll see in our examples, red is better suited to color combinations. An entirely red room might seem luxurious and cozy, but you can be sure that you’ll never sleep in there…

Red and green: not your typical holiday decor

Red and green are typical colors of holiday decors. What with poinsettias, Santa Claus and Christmas trees, this color combination is usually relegated to a few weeks every year. But red and green work well together for more quotidian purposes. As they are directly opposite each other on the color wheel, they are considered “complementary” colors and do work well in combination.

The trick with red and green is, first, to choose shades that aren’t too Christmasy. A lighter shade of green and a slightly more orange shade of red can do the trick. Keeping to basic geometric shapes rather than complex prints and patterns can also help avoid the whole Holiday feel.

It’s also good to combine these two colors with white and black. Red is at its most brilliant against black, and white provides the kind of luminous background to soften such a bright color.

Red and blue: beaches and patriots

As two primary colors, red and blue seem to have a knack to stick together. We’re used to see the combination on the American, French and British flags, as well as on traditional fashion and home decor designs that recall a nautical or beach setting. It’s a favorite combination of popular fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.

If you want to go for the coastal look, keep red and blue in balance and add white in abundance. Use crisp, geometric shapes and patterns and clearly demarcate each color. The sound of seagulls is all that’s missing from a true beach cottage (unless this is actually a beach cottage, in which case, lucky you!).

But red and blue can come together to create a softer, more artsy look. In this style, use feminine patterns like flowers, and use red in accent rather than main color. Again, white should be used abundantly. Red, blue and white fuze together without the strict boundaries of the coastal look, and this gives red a chance to shine.

Red and purple: feminine and decadent

Red and purple might seem like a counter-intuitive combination, but in fact, as analogous (next to each other) colors on the wheel, they actually work quite well together. Purple is a great way to soften and feminize an otherwise aggressive and masculine color.

In nature, red and purple often appear together in flowers. This is why flower patterns and more feminine decors tend to look great in this color combination. Although red and purple look great when balanced, this color combination can handle a bit more red.  The whole effect gives a cozy, luxurious feel that reminds you of rich Eastern decors. It’s easy to feel like a queen (or king) in those colors that denote royalty.
In such a color combination, it’s important to keep the lines soft and the patterns minimal. Something that’s too angular will look strangely masculine; too many patterns might look way too busy.

Red and orange: contemporary pop-art

Another analogous color combination, red and orange together crackle like fire and pop like a 60s tune. Red an orange exist together in nature in autumn leaves and in flowers like tulips.

Red and orange are still visually linked to the 60s pop-art fashion and decor designs. Despite this century’s taste for minimal, zen decor, a red-and-orange room will always bring up a bubbly, happy feeling and will make you want to start dancing randomly. To bring up the liberated 60s, use big, bold patterns and don’t be afraid to saturate the room with colors. Great lighting will show the best of these colors.

For something a little more muted, use red and orange as accent colors on a white- or neutral-based decor. It will bring just the right amount of pop without looking too childish or bubbly.

What are your favorite color combinations with red? Have you used red in your home decor? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments!

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.