Red: adding warmth and passion

Signs and symbols

Giving someone a red rose is a symbol of love and passion. A red sign or traffic light shouts ‘Stop!’ and in nature it can signal ‘Danger!’ The red flames of an open fire are enticing and say ’come here, it’s cosy and warm’. Red can also stir anger or excitement. Whether we’re celebrating with it or being warned away, there’s no doubt that red speaks volumes and is probably the most emphatic colour of the rainbow. This also means that it can work wonders or play havoc in your home, depending on how and where you use it.

Get inspired

One of 2008’s red successes is the Mark Rothko exhibition at London’s Tate Modern. His brooding ‘Seagram Murals’ were famously designed for The Four Seasons restaurant on Park Avenue, New York, to provoke diners and the proprietors. Still, fans of red, from scarlet to crimson can’t help but be impressed by the intensity of Rothko’s palate. Catch the show while it’s still on (until 1 February 2009), opens in a new window and you might be inspired to recreate Rothko’s bold style in your home.

Best for…

It can be used to warm up or enrich living spaces or perhaps add a rustic feel to kitchens. Red paint works especially well with period features – think dark red walls with stone fireplaces and ornate coving. Orange-toned or terracotta reds are perfect for a country kitchen, or simply brighten up a room with red accessories such as cushions, throws and rugs. However, avoid using red in any space that you want to keep light or bright. If a room already feels small or dark, using a red that is too strong could simply emphasise those bad features. Use thoughtfully and in moderation.

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