The color red yields power. It demands your attention. From stop signs to fireworks to roses, the color elicits a strong reaction from the viewer, ranging from anxious to celebratory feelings. And what the color has come to symbolize in different cultures is as varied as the emotions it evokes: fortune, revolution, passion, anger, confidence, danger, energy, love.
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If you're nervous about decorating with red, you're not alone. "Most of my clients are hesitant about bold colors," notes Los Angeles interior designer Brooke Gardner. Even when it comes to what we wear, red can be an intimidating color, a sentiment echoed by fashion designer Carol Young. "It's definitely a very emotional color," she says. "Depending on the shade/saturation of red, usually my clients who are drawn to red are extroverts and confident, and don't mind drawing attention to themselves. It's definitely not a color for everyone, but when it is, it can be spectacular and life-affirming."
But there are plenty of ways to seamlessly integrate it into your home without having to redefine your style. "Red, depending upon the shade, can be very rich and elegant-looking," shares Gardner. "I think a lot of people think of primary red, but the deep jewel tone reds are gorgeous — sort of old Hollywood movie theater red. I would say that red can go with any other color, but color theory and personal taste will dictate what actually looks good together." So play around with tonal variations of the shade in your home; bring it in with textiles, or experiment with unique materials such as leather or brick. The key is to keep an open mind.
Regardless of what your aesthetic of choice may be — minimalist, rustic, or California-cool — we've got the lowdown on the foolproof ways you can usher the saturated tone into a decor scheme that will always leave a positive impression. Ahead is an array of inspired colors that go with red and the lessons we've learned from each.
20 Red Color Combinations
1. Red and Orange
While red and orange feel hot, this is the coolest headboard we've ever seen. From its saturated coloring to its flame-like shape, Rachel Chudley's custom bed embodies fiery red. While the piece is enough to make a statement on its own, the addition of the golden orange throw elevates it to new heights by creating a warm sunset-like effect that softens the intensity of the red.
2. Red and Pink
While the combo of red and pink is about as iconic as it gets, sometimes it can feel a little too intense — or reminiscent of Valentine's Day. The solution? A tonal play on the pairing, like the one we spotted in the bathroom of this rad student residence by Plutarco, where blush tile walls, a deep red vanity, and orangeish-red accents flip the script on the tradition in a refreshing, modern take.
3. Red and Yellow
When in doubt about creating a color scheme with red, look to the color wheel for inspiration. Both primaries, bright yellow and red are a combo that livens a space and spells fun. Here, color-blocked curtains draw the eye to the main attraction, the city view outside. If you want to shift the focus, bring the colors to your furniture instead, with a red couch and yellow side table, for instance.
4. Red and Turquoise
Take a cue from the cheery common area of architect Barbara Bestor's studio in Los Angeles, which incorporates two shades of turquoise, through steel chairs and a patterned bench. Adding printed upholstery is one way to infuse your space with whimsy. And who said cushions need to match? The eclectic mix of colors and textures creates a welcoming atmosphere ready for some spirited conversation.
5. Red and Slate Blue
Red takes on a very different mood when paired with muted blue shades. Slate blue walls create a soothing backdrop for the bold burst of reds in this Southwest-chic Marfa retreat. The subtle traces of blue in the textiles tie the look together, while the slivers of yellow and orange offer a hint of contrast that completes the scheme.
6. Red and Tan
For the minimalist who prefers it pared-down, consider a palette of organic hues. We're swooning over this light-filled London home, where an exposed-brick wall ushers in a dose of rust red without overpowering the muted aesthetic. The custom plywood shelves offer a warm tan, making for a seamless transition from brick to stark white walls and resulting in an effortlessly cool combo.
7. Red and Black
On the list of colors that go with red, black is a surefire favorite. Daring with a side of drama to boot, the two together are a force to be reckoned with. Just take this memorable bedroom, captured by Brittany Ambridge, for example. A depth-defining backdrop paired with a red leather headboard, no less, proves that when it comes to bold colors, more can be more.
8. Red and Forest Green
The key to pairing red and green — without it feeling like a Christmas scene — is to choose more complex shades of each color. Go toward the darker end of the spectrum with burgundy and forest green, as in this dreamy nook of the Hunker House library. Let the marriage of Old Hollywood glam (the velvet ottoman) and modern drama (geometric wood accent wall) inspire your design.
9. Red and White
Who doesn't love a cheeky detail, especially when it comes in the form of a whimsical wallpaper? Chango & Co.'s Bay Head Beach bungalow project takes a standard red and white color combo and elevates it with flair. The lobster-print wallpaper offers a playful alternative to traditional paint, yet still manages to complement the streamlined marble bath with a fitting nautical feel.
10. Red and Maroon
When creating tone-on-tone looks with red, sliding up or down the color spectrum can dramatically change the mood. While red and pink create a cheery atmosphere, red and maroon make a room feel luxurious and warm. Texture also matters, as demonstrated by this bedroom, where velvet pillows and loosely draped bedding look more lush than starched cotton would.
11. Red and Gray
If you're looking to turn up the mood volume of a neutral room, try a large piece of red furniture. Here, the maroon couch with dark gray cabinets creates a relaxed vibe. If you're going for an even bolder look, this combination would work equally well with the colors swapped — a gray sofa and deep red cabinets.
12. Red and Cobalt Blue
Primary red and blue together don't have to look nautical or patriotic. Just look at how Piet Mondrian used them in his work. Bright red and cobalt blue contrast in a stunning, graphic manner in this anything-goes living room. (Hardcore design enthusiasts may recognize the collectible 1972 Rossocactus coat stand by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello.) Recreate the look on a more accessible scale by pairing a red coat rack with a cobalt blue coach or chairs.
13. Red and Lilac
Colorist, designer, and photographer Tekla Evelina Severin made us believers in a red and lilac color scheme with this room she designed for her collaboration with Denmark's Montana Furniture. The color combination she introduced to their free shelving system, Iris and Masala (talk about some evocative color terms), managed to make the color lilac, which is often used in kids' rooms, appear refined and elegant.
14. Red and Brown
Red and brown is a classic combination. The richness of dark wood paired with the warmth of red has a cozy, old-world feel to it, a lived-in quality that can be inviting, especially when different shades of both colors are applied in a maximalist room like this one. But that doesn't mean minimalists can't work with brown and red. Try incorporating them through a patterned accent pillow or red artwork with a brown frame. See what works in your space.
15. Red and Mustard Yellow
Mustard and brick red can give a room a regal or modern aesthetic depending on the texture and design of the furnishings. Mustard yellow brings in a sunny glow without being overpowering. Try the combination in a corner for a quiet reading nook with a cushioned chair and accent wall, or try layering velvet pillows in these colors for a lush look.
16. Red and Taupe
No couch epitomizes lipstick red more than this one, yes? The color on its own, regardless of shape, will always be a scene stealer. Placing the lip couch in a taupe room shows the resident likes seriousness served with a heavy helping of humor. Not just anyone would take such risks. There is a valuable design takeaway from this color pairing: If you have a space with no windows or limited natural light, a bright red piece can give it life.
On a related note, a single bright red piece, such as a lamp, pillow, or artwork, can do wonders for any dark color scheme. Imagine this navy blue and green dining area in the Godtfolk restaurant without the red wall hanging, and you have a color story that's more fitting for a study than a place to enjoy a meal and someone else's company. The centered red art piece gives the room welcome dimension.
18. Red and Greige
Greige makes a perfect canvas on which to layer darker red furniture in tones like mahogany and maroon. The red cabinet and rug in this greige room demonstrate how minimalists can use color to add interest to a pared-down space. The navy blue stool and purple pillow also pull from the rug's palette, creating a cohesive look.
19. Red and Sage Green
There is something utterly calming about a sage or pistachio room — a go-to bedroom colors for decades — which can feel more green or gray depending on the time of day. A wonderful way to counter its slumber-inducing effect is a bright red wake-up call accent, such as a framed mirror or woven rug. In this bedroom, there are two red accents: a tomato red lamp and a burgundy crushed velvet pillow. Both are wins.
20. Red and Silver
Take color inspiration from vintage diners, with their cherry red vinyl barstools and chrome finishes. One easy way to try this combo at home is in your kitchen, where stainless steel may already dominate. Here, the silver-colored countertop and hardware look classic against red cabinets. A rug in front incorporates red with beige and navy blue, softening the look.
Colors That Go With Red
Even a small dose of red has the power to change the mood of an entire room. Go big with red walls and cabinets, or keep it subtle with a red lamp, throw pillow, or art piece. Let it be the one bold color in a neutral room or part of a complex palette full of brights.
Here's a quick recap of some of our favorite colors to pair with red:
- Slate Blue
- Forest Green
- Cobalt Blue
- Navy Blue
- Dark Green
- Mint Green