Crimson isn't a shy color, but it won't run away with a room if you pair it with the right hue. You may not yearn for Diana Vreeland's famous all-red lacquered and upholstered sitting room, but even a modest amount of judiciously applied crimson makes a dramatic difference in a room. Choose a strong palette for glamor, a light counterpoint for charm; just don't write off bright red when searching for striking decor.
Peaceful and Provocative
Put crimson to work invigorating a peaceful expanse of pale sky- or robin's egg-blue in the living room. The serene wall color and a white ceiling are magnets for light. Cinnabar or crimson lacquered Asian cabinets and touches of crimson in art and on throw pillows intensify the peaceful blues and wake up the whole room. Cover the floor with a traditional or oriental carpet in pale blue and ivory with touches of crimson in the design. Drape the windows in floor-length taffeta, striped in red, navy and ivory, and furnish the room with dark wood antiques upholstered in in neutral linens and brocades.
Scarlet and Sunshine
Your sunny, straw-colored dining room with the big farm table is a bright gathering spot when you paint the mismatched wood chairs crimson. The red against the soft yellow walls looks like ripe apples sitting in a pool of honey, a tempting and tasty combination. Red is an appetite stimulator that works the same magic on conversation, so the unexpected splash of crimson on the chairs adds convivial warmth to the room. A spare, wrought-iron candelabra chandelier, light wood floors partly covered by a faded handwoven carpet, and a symmetrical lineup of red, yellow and green framed botanical prints on one wall are uncluttered decor in the cheerful space.
Chili and Chocolate
The blazing red of a habanero pepper is tempered but not tamed by a rich, deep cocoa brown. The bold mix is just short of volatile -- tending toward the masculine and sophisticated in a bedroom or library. Flat crimson paint on walls, a light ceiling and dark brown wood floors or furnishings work for traditional decor. An accent wall in crimson enamel explodes in a room with variegated brown striped wallpaper and chocolate velvet drapes. Hang the oil painting on the accent wall for a sense of pageantry and grandeur; add a red, brown and cream oriental carpet to any combination of crimson and intense brown to integrate both strong colors in harmonious balance.
Contrasts and Complements
Green and red are opposites on the color wheel, and variations of each hue complement each other in lively contrast. Pair pale matte mint walls in a breakfast nook with a red-lacquered bistro set for a morning wake-up call. Wallpaper the parlor in deep crimson silk damask and furnish the period-style room with forest and emerald-green velvet- and brocade-upholstered antiques. Paint lime and linen stripes on the nursery wall and add molded plastic crimson toddler chairs and a painted red bookcase for your young urban sophisticate. Create an inviting reading corner with ivory walls, jade trim and a sink-into-it reading chair covered in crimson velvet.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .