Red is one of the boldest and brightest statement-making colours in the spectrum. It can set all sorts of moods, from angry and warm to bright and happy. It’s important that you understand what colours work well with red before splashing it all over your home, and how the colour red can affect your interior space.
What are some general colour matching rules?
According to design specialists 99Designs, the color wheel is made up of three primary colors: red, yellow, blue; three secondary colors (colors created when primary colors are mixed), green, orange, purple; and six tertiary colors, which are colors made from primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-violet.
Generally speaking, the most complementary colours are those that stand opposite each other in the colour wheel, such as red and green, blue and orange, purple and yellow.
Colours that go well with red
Creative media outlet Bright Side has a colour guide that suggests complementary colours for different shades of red. For example:
Primary red works well with yellow, white, tawny-orange, green, blue and black.
Tomato red works well with cyan, mint green, sand, creamy-white, and grey.
Cherry red works well with azure, grey, light-orange, sandy, pale-yellow, and beige.
Raspberry red can work well with white, black and damask rose.
Depending on the shade of red you want to use, you can generally pair it with black, navy, shades of blue, grey, white, cream, pink, metallics and timber finishes.
Professional advice for choosing colours that go with red
“Red is a very strong and dominant colour, so you don't want to pair it with too many other dominant colours - especially if you want red to be the stand out colour in your home,” says interior designer Emma Blomfield. “Try using colours such as navy, black, white and grey. If you want to add more colours, stay away from pastel tones such as peach, lime and coral, etc. as these will clash. Go for stronger tones like a canary yellow, citrus orange or dark green.”
Do’s and don’ts of using red in interiors
Using the colour red in your interior design scheme can be a big and bold move, so it’s important that you not only love the colour, but learn how to use it correctly.
“Don't go painting the entire room red if you think you might tire of it in a year or two,” says Emma Blomfield. “Do use red in soft furnishings such as cushions or rugs, but use it in patterns rather than solid colour textiles. This way you can pick out some other colours from the pattern and highlight them in the room as well.”
Interior designer Chris Carroll of TLC Interiors says the best thing you can do is explore multiple shades of red before settling on one. “Maroons, magentas, burnt oranges and other similar shades won’t look so aggressive,” writes Chris on his website. “A grey wall can help tone down bright red, and less is generally more.”
Tips and tricks for choosing colours that go with red, and how to work in into your interior scheme
Interior designer Jasmine McClelland of Jasmine McClelland Design firm has some helpful tips and tricks that she personally uses when decorating with the colour red.
Less is more
“A splash of the colour red can lift and enhance a room, whether on a large or small scale. I often add a pop of colour by having a small red item in a book case or on a side board against a more neutral overall colour palette in the space.”
Use red for decorative items
“I love using red in artwork, vases, books or decorative pieces that are not overly domineering. You can then have some fun and re-arrange these items throughout your home if you need to change it up.”
Only choose red if you truly love the colour
“I always gauge with my clients what they are comfortable with in terms of colour before using too much. I ask them have you always loved the colour? Or are you just loving it this year? Are you happy to go to sleep and wake up to the same colour?”
Make a statement with red
“If you want to make a bold statement, pair red with white and almost any grey, If not, pair red with linen, muted greens or a black back drop and use small amounts of red.”
Use red as an accent colour
“If wanting accents of red, I would go for an orange based, firecracker red. When using a lot more red in a space, I would use a much more muted, blue based red.”
Colour schemes that work with red
1. Muted red colour combinations
“Linen tones work really well to pair back the dominance of red, creating a more neutral base in a space,” says Jasmine McClelland.
2. Black and white will always go with red
“Black is a really good backdrop colour for red, and makes a really moody, dramatic atmosphere,” says Jasmine McClelland.
3. White, blue and black complement red
“Muted duck-egg blue with a green base is a great contrasting colour, without being too conflicting. It softens the space, offering a cool contrast to the warmth of the red,” says Jasmine McClelland.
4. Any and all shades of grey will go with red
“Any shade of grey ccomplements the colour red very nicely and really allows the colour red to come alive,” says Jasmine McClelland.
5. White, cream and barely-there beiges match with red well
“White is light and bright and will sharpen any shade of red. It is a great base when making a bold statement, offering contrast and also some breathing room,” says Jasmine McClelland.
6. Red and teal complement a neutral colour scheme
“Use the colour red sparingly if you're using it in more restful rooms, such as bedrooms and sitting rooms,” says interior designer Emma Blomfield. “Keep red to soft furnishings that you can swap out in future in case you think the red is too dominant.”
7. White and yellow go with red
Unexpected colour combinations such as red, yellow and white are happy, bright and warm.
8. Dark red is complemented by navy and gold
Dark red walls with navy are a classic colour combination that screams elegance when paired with metallics.
8. Red, white and brown colour palette
Simple, timeless and a little more masculine than some of the other colour combinations, this works well in a minimalist home.
10. Red, white and multiple shades of blue
Red and white are a obvious colour combination, but pair it with two shades of muted blue and bring your red down a notch and you have a room that's easy on the eyes but looks stylish.
11. Red and pink
While most people think red and pink clash, the two colours together can actually look very modern and striking.
12. Red goes with black, white, grey and timber furniture
Red is a colour that goes with timber finishes well. Keep it modern with splashes of white, black and grey.
13. Red, pink and plum
Although some might not think that pink and plum can go with red, these similar colours complement each other to create a look that is contemporary and feminine.
14. Red goes with purple
Another one of those unexpected colour combinations, red and purple are not for the faint of heart. Red goes with purple and looks ultra on-trend with marble tabletops and white pendant lights. Glam factor = 100 per cent.
15. Masculine red, grey and timber
This look is a little more serious and is well suited to a study, office or bachelor pad.
16. Red and green
Red with green doesn't always give off festive vibes. Keep your green muted and your red sophisticated.
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