Seeing Red at Home

Red is one of my favorite colors, both to wear, and to use in decorating.  I find that I am naturally attracted to warm, vibrant colors, especially reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, with an occasional green thrown in.  But, red is one of those colors that can overwhelm the senses, and red is awfully hard to paint over (I can say this from experience!)

First and foremost, using red in décor doesn’t have to mean a bright, shiny (sometimes gaudy) red.  Burgundy is a softer alternative that has rich pink and blue undertones and can be very soothing for an office, bathroom, or dining room.  Another alternative to red is an orange-red.  Here, I’m talking about the is-it-orange-or-is-it red shade that to me, evokes happiness.

In lieu of the “red accent wall” or a lipstick-red room, here are a few ways to incorporate all sorts of reds in smaller doses at home.

Red in Living Areas:

What a cute red top!

One of the easiest ways to use red in decorating is to purchase a red piece of furniture or paint a piece of furniture you already own.  A colorful end table is useful and eye-catching in a more neutral room.  I love the new c-shaped table that slides under the edge of a couch, bed, or chair to provide room for a book, laptop, or cup of coffee.  Add a colorful red top, and it’s a statement piece.

Another way I incorporate red in my home is through potpourri.  A few years ago, I bought an Asian-style wire basket with a wound handle.  I filled it with a red and green potpourri mix of wooden shapes, dried florals, and leaves.  The basket hangs from a decorative hook in the ceiling by one of my windows.  The potpourri provides color and scent and because the basket is suspended, it breaks up the dead space near the ceiling.

Much of the artwork in my home was done by mon mari, or by our friends and given as gifts to us.  If you find that you want to add just a bit of red to a room, consider buying a red mat board at an art store to frame (or re-frame) your favorite print, painting, or drawing.  Most art stores have mat board remnants that they will sell at a discount (often for under a dollar, or 1-$2 per piece) for smaller framed works.  The mat board can be self-cut with a mat cutter, or ask the framing department to do it for you.

Red in the Kitchen:

I associate red with the kitchen because so many tasty foods are red: tomatoes, red peppers, chili powder, strawberries…

Sometimes a small pop of color is all you need, and I love this red, glass soap pump that reflects light and projects many shades of red all at once.  I’m also a sucker for red stools pulled up to the kitchen counter, because a stool is a great place to rest a grocery bag, or your bum while you prepare a meal.

Red in the Office:

Vary the shades of red and add other similar colors for interest.

I have been putting touches of red in my renovated home office since last year.  I find that looking at the color red while working inspires me.  I used red and white patterned quilting squares that I bought at the fabric store to re-cover my bulletin board.  The quilting squares come in a rainbow of colors and patterns and usually cost under $2 per piece. For my bulletin board, which is about 18″x 24″, I used just two squares.  To see the fabric, view my post Cute-As-A-Button DIY Thumbtacks.

How to cover a bulletin board:  I played around with the fabric until I lined up the pattern in a way that I liked, then I folded the excess edges under (no cutting required!) and pinned them with homemade button pushpins in red, pink, orange, and purple discreetly down the middle seam and in the corners.  The best part about using fabric is that you can change it with your mood.  If you are looking to create a fun border for the bulletin board, use a spool of red ribbon and make four lengths to go around the inside of the bulletin board frame.  Secure the ribbon with thumbtacks.

If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of books.  I especially like hardcover books with colorful bindings.  I often stack a few books together on a table to elevate a reading lamp or to display a statuette.  Yes, I’m the lady who unwinds a book jacket to look at the color of the binding before I buy it!

Another cost-effective way to add a bit of red is with a colored paperweight.  Pick up a rock or stone on a walk and paint it your favorite shade of red with spray paint.  You can also decorate it however you like.  Allow the paint to dry and seal it, if desired, then use the paperweight to anchor a stack of letters or a the pages of an open book.

Red for Gift Giving:

Red seems to be a natural choice for gift-giving because so many holidays use the color red: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day…

This little red pitcher would be a good host/hostess gift with a little sugar bowl or a tea ball.  I could also see it accompanying a bottle of maple or fruit-flavored syrup.  Yum!

Last month, I bought a member of my family a red glazed herb pot.  It had a pretty scalloped edge and an oval blackboard space where the name of the herb plant could be written with chalk.  If the pot had been for me, I probably would’ve written this reminder: “Please Don’t Forget to Water Me!”