Decorating

16 red colour combinations for stylish interiors

Helpful tips for decorating your home with red.
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Red can be considered bold, dramatic and full of passion, but there are many ways to add it to your home without it becoming overpowering. A good place to start is by choosing colour combinations that go with the shades of red you want to use. 

What are some general colour matching rules?

According to design specialists 99Designs, the colour wheel is made up of three primary colours: red, yellow, blue; three secondary colours (colours created when primary colours are mixed), green, orange, purple; and six tertiary colours, which are colours made from primary and secondary colours, 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.

the colour wheel
The colour wheel. (Credit: Getty)

Working out red colour schemes using the colour wheel

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.

colours-that-go-with-red-patterned-wallpaper-rug
(Credit: Nick Scott/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

What colours go well with red, according to experts

“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.”

colours-that-go-with-red-red-chair-green-wall
(Credit: Alana Landsberry/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

Tips and tricks for choosing colours that go with red

Interior designer Jasmine McClelland 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 shades of red

1. Muted red colour combinations

colours-that-go-with-red-muted-tones-red-headboard
(Credit: Cath Muscat/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

“Linen tones work really well to pair back the dominance of red, creating a more neutral base in a space,” says Jasmine McClelland.

A great bedroom combo is white linen sheets paired with a red fabric headboard and soft red accents. Add in interest with different textures and loose patterns that can harmonise together. The bedroom above uses a variety of stripes and ruffly textures for an engaging view.

2. Black and white will always go with red

colours-that-go-with-red-black-fireplace-red-accents
(Credit: Cath Muscat/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

“Black is a really good backdrop colour for red, and makes a really moody, dramatic atmosphere,” says Jasmine McClelland.

If you haven’t got the confidence (or the funds!) for a black marble fireplace and matching floor tiles, adding in a few black cushions to your couch may be your best option. Pair with red decor and darker, ambient lighting to add dramatic flair. 

3. White and blue complement red

colours-that-go-with-red-interior-wildflower-wall
(Credit: Alana Landsberry/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

“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.

These two colours can create a whimsical, cottage-like effect, especially when wildflower wallpaper is involved. Stick to vintage furniture that has a rustic, country feel to it, and your design will feel cohesive and charming. 

4. Any and all shades of grey will go with red

colours-that-go-with-red-grey-carpet
(Credit: Armelle Habib/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

If you’re strictly a modern household, and grey is your best friend, then adding in a pop of red may brighten up your space.

As Jasmine says, “Any shade of grey complements the colour red very nicely and really allows the colour red to come alive.” This red walled living room may be quite a change from your usual greys, blacks and whites, but modern doesn’t mean colourless, so get painting!

5. White, cream and barely-there beiges match well with red

colours-that-go-with-red-white-bed-red-persian-carpet
(Credit: Getty)

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.

The natural, calming feel of this bedroom isn’t taken away by its red additions. Instead, the warm hues of the throw and the Persian rug allow for the crisp white bedding to shine as the hero element.

A great way to tie this together comes from placing small amounts of beige, cream and eggshell into the mix like a hand-sculpted clay vase. 

6. Red and orange complement a neutral colour scheme

colours-that-go-with-red-neutral-colour-scheme
(Credit: Scott Hawkins/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

“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.”

Red furnishings, combined with natural elements like textured wall-hangings give your room a homey, yet elevated look. 

7. White and yellow go with red

colours-that-go-with-red-wrought-iron-bed-red-curtains
(Credit: Getty)

Unexpected colour combinations such as red, yellow and white are happy, bright and warm.

When using more than two colours in your colour scheme, it can be tricky to get the right balance. Choose one colour to hero the room, and add in pops of the other two to make it a more cohesive presentation. If you’re unsure about going all out with both bold colours, add hints of red, like the bedroom above, with pillows and small decor items. 

8. Dark red is complemented by navy and gold

colours that go with red
(Credit: Armelle Habib/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

Dark red walls with navy are a classic colour combination that screams elegance when paired with metallics.

An easy way to add more gold to your space is with decorative items. By introducing elements like light coloured wood, you can create golden features in a more subtle, natural way. 

9. Red, white and brown colour palette

colours that go with red
(Credit: Brooke Holm/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

Simple, timeless and a little more masculine than some of the other colour combinations, this works well in a minimalist or even mid-century modern home.

Choose stand out decor items, such as a funky lamp or a tan leather couch to combine these colours without the red becoming to dominating. Pattern and visual interest can be brought in with hanging art, or even a patterned wallpaper. 

10. Red, white and multiple shades of blue

colours that go with red
(Credit: Dave Wheeler/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

Red and white are an 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.

Find funs ways to add blue to your home by incorporating it into patterned furniture pieces, checked linens or stripy wallpaper. 

11. Red and pink

colours that go with red
(Credit: Lisa Cohen/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

While most people think red and pink clash, the two colours together can actually look very modern and striking.

Pink and red fit into a monochromatic colour scheme, so adding in other colours that work to complement, like tan and periwinkle blue will create cohesion without too much monotony.

12. Red goes with black, white, grey and timber furniture 

colours that go with red
(Credit: Armelle Habib/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

Red is a colour that goes with timber finishes quite nicely, especially if wood is added as an accent rather than the main focus. Stick to wooden picture frames and chair legs, and combine with neutrals to let that red colour shine!

13. Red, pink and plum 

colours that go with red
(Credit: Scott Hawkins/ aremediasynidcation.com.au)

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.

If your room needs some more soft, rounded elements, choose velvety furnishings and muted tones. 

14. Masculine red, grey and timber 

colours-that-go-with-red-bedspread-grey-bed-wooden-frame
(Credit: Getty)

This look is a little more serious and is well suited to a study, office or bachelor pad. Using grey linens and bedspreads, with a touch of red will keep your design more neutral without being too boring. 

15. Red goes with purple

Colours that go with red
(Credit: Robin Hearfield/ aremediasyndication.com.au)

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.

16. Red and green

sage walls kitchen red cake protector
(Credit: Getty)

Red with green doesn’t always give off festive vibes. Keep your red sophisticated with glossy decorative pieces and your green muted like with this olive linen throw

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