20 ways to decorate with red

From lipstick-worthy red hues to nature-inspired shades, there's a red to suit every taste

lipstick red wall

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Paint color ideas: How to decorate with red

Create a bold backdrop

Wowza! A lipstick red wall sets off black-and-white family photos and is absolutely made for showcasing a collection of handmade valentines hung from a picture rail.

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Red kitchen island

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Red kitchen island

A coat of brick-red paint makes the island the star of this kitchen.

For a sophisticated look, try pairing one red object with neutral tones. Here, dark-wood surfaces and stainless steel appliances do the trick.

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red built-in shelves

Photo by Alex Hayden

Create interest

This built-in display is all about function (it houses art and conceals stereo equipment) but the bright color helps make this workhorse feature look special too.

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Red office wall

Photo by Art Gray

Define a space

In this home office, a wall of red delineates the work area from the rest of the space. The invigorating shade can also help keep you alert and focused.

24 creative home offices

Red dining room

Thomas J. Story

Update a classic

Don't be afraid to introduce bright red to a traditional home. A lush palette brings a fun dose of updated glamour to this simple folk-style Victorian farmhouse.

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Red accent wall

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Try an accent wall

One wall of red can make quite a statement all on its own. Here, white decorative pieces pop against a fire-engine red background, while warm wood shelving helps keep the look in tune with the rest of the room.

Boy's room

Photo by Ken Gutmaker

Create a lasting backdrop

Trends may shift, but a traditional red is sure to last. A classic shade, like the one shown in this boy's bedroom, is just the thing for those with changing tastes.

Paint tip: Tone down a bold paint color by teaming it with neutral hues.

Displaying photos

Photo by Martin Tessler/Gamma Pro Imaging

Grab attention

Bright red captivates and immediately catches the eye. Use that to your advantage by showcasing prized possessions with a backdrop in the hue. 

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Red dining table

Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones

Revive furniture

Secondhand furniture that's seen better days can be instantly revived with a coat of bright paint.

Take this curvy beauty, for example, which went from drab brown to stunner, thanks to a punch of bold red low-VOC paint.

Turn secondhand finds into eco-chic decor

Pay a complement

James Carrier

Pay a complement

Complementary colors achieve a bold contrast, but it's difficult to strike the right balance. A strong red-orange item―here, Eero Saarinen's Womb chair and ottoman―is perfect amid a wash of softer blues. Accessories in the same vibrant color family help unify the elements.

Romantic bedroom

Photo by Jay Graham

Add romance

Talk about setting the mood. Steal this hotel room's romantic look with inexpensive red sheer fabric hung above the bed.

Red patio

Photo by Norm Plate

Celebrate nature

Vivid hues were an integral part of this patio's design. The owner's red-flowering geraniums were the inspiration for the shade of the back wall.

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Orange-red and neutral paint palette

Jeffery Cross

Orange-red and neutral

Orange-kissed red paints are the newest way to show off your wild side. Here's one inspired by San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Tone down a lipstick-worthy hue (in a good way) with a cool taupe and a warm off-white.

Main: Claret Rose 2008-20 (benjaminmoore.com for stores)

Trim: Morocco Sand 515-3 (pittsburghpaints.com for stores)

Accent: Nourish .04 (yolocolorhouse.com)

Modern Arizona home

Photo by Bill Timmerman

Create an eclectic look

Usually rooms stick with one bright hue, if any, but this kitchen and living space makes it work.

These walls are Venetian plaster sealed with wax, which brings depth and sheen to the ruddy tone.

Red front door

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Offer a warm welcome

What better way to greet visitors than with a cheery, cherry red door? Painting an entire house brightly is a gutsy move, but a slice of color on the door is a subtle gesture that still feels fresh and inviting.

Paint tip:  Use a tinted primer for dark and bright colors. It greatly improves coverage. Ask the paint retailer for a custom mix compatible with your surfaces and paint.

Red accents

Photo by Lisa Romerein

Experiment with accents

Not anxious to break out the paint brushes? A stripe of vintage wallpaper and a few well-placed accent pieces offer just the right balance of red in this room.

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Red doorknob

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Add a touch of surprise

With this color, a little bit is sometimes just enough. Try a doorknob in a vibrant shade of red for a refreshingly unexpected touch of interest in a room. 

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Red gate

Photo by Holly Lepere

Make a dramatic entry

This brilliant red gate creates a dramatic entry and adds a jolt of color to an otherwise mostly green garden. 

Deck with red accents

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Brighten up a deck

Two faded wicker chairs were given a coat of deep red spray paint in this outdoor makeover. Now they accent the golden tones of the deck and the soft green and deep plum French doors.

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Use bright color as an accent

Photo by Steven Gunther

Bring a corner to life

Soft greens and blue-grays dominate this patio, but the gate provides a pleasant jolt of welcoming red.

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