American fashion designer Bill Blass said, "When in doubt, wear red." We have come to think of fire-engine red as one of the boldest fashion statements possible, and that goes for when it is used in home decor. In the psychology of color, red has numerous meanings: It is the messenger of energy, passion and action. It is also the color of anger, which is one reason why I think many people fear using it inside. It's definitely not for everyone.
I have observed that if someone is brave enough to use red inside their home, they have an independent and bold personality. It takes guts to commit to a red front door or a red kitchen counter made of crushed quartz. If you have any doubts, the trick is to use tomato-soup red in sparing but effective ways. Whenever you have neutral walls, floors and finishing materials, a splash of Tabasco red will always work. In many ways, working red into a white and gray interior is considered a modern classical design. Italians and Germans have been doing it for generations.
If you are timid, try a limited but powerful application of red. As you see here, the entire room hums simply by using a bold red Venetian blind! That's all that's needed to lift this little kitchen out of the ordinary. You could introduce one large piece of art with red to weave the accent color in, or anchor a living room with an area rug that is predominantly red. Repeat red in accent pillows, and maybe a plant container or a large bowl or dish. It doesn't take much of an accent to draw the eye around a room.
In order to be comfortable using bold colors in general, it is helpful to take a little time and analyze what colors you like enough to live with for a period of time. While you might like hot pink in a skirt or shoes, would you consider living with a bedroom painted in the color? Be realistic and realize that you do not have to use the most intense shade of the color in order to get a color pop. Always, always, always be certain to test out a deep color before applying it to a wall. It is extremely difficult to paint over a deep, intense color and takes four to five coats to cover it completely. The same principle should be extended to upholstery fabric, too. Get samples, and look at them for a few days in all types of lighting in order to be sure that you like a strong color or pattern. Bold geometric patterns might look great in the furniture store, but consider living with them over time.
This is not to dissuade you from considering vibrant color but to warn you about the power attached to brawny color combinations. Be aware of color trends, too. They aren't bad, but you must be quite sure that you will not tire of the color du jour. This brings us full circle to the wisdom of using dominant colors as accents that can be more easily changed when you tire of them. We see the cyclical nature of color in men's and women's fashion. Some years you find purple, pink, lime green or orange. This year, lemon yellow is hot. Nonetheless, black and white with red accents remains a staple color combination with deep roots in modern design.
Photo Credit: English Blinds
Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.