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PostHeaderIcon Color Me Red - February Designers Log

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The color red plays an important part in our lives. It's the color of heat, of patriotism and most importantly, the color of love. Red moves us, it's dramatic and unforgettable. It can be smoldering, exotic or shocking.  A red rose symbolizes passion; a red fire truck signifies urgency. Whether a call to arms or the signal to stop, red can be mystifying, but it's never shy.

During February, no color in the spectrum is more on display.  At Valentine's Day, red is everywhere. For this month's Designers Log, I thought it would be fun to explore and play with this fascinating color. It's not the color for everyone and needs to be used sparingly; yet a blast of red, whether it's Jungle Red, Crimson or Cayenne, can be just the right wow factor you are looking for.

Seven ways to incorporate red in your design ... if you dare!

Sit down on it - I recently had a couple yards of the most intense red silk left over from a project. It really spoke to me and wasn't the kind of fabric you could just leave in the closet. I purchased an architectural mid-century wood framed chair at the local consignment store and recovered the seat with this bold shiny red.  We use it as a desk chair from time to time, but mostly it lives in front of a window, where the sun dances on it and the fabric lights up the whole room. It's amazing how just one piece like this can suddenly become the focal point. But that's red for you.  It loves the attention.

Express yourself - There must be over 100 different shades of red in the paint store. Even the names jump out at you: Confederate Red, Sultan's Palace, Chili Pepper. Painting an accent wall in one of these can really make a statement. There is no way that wall is going to be a wallflower. It's going to jump out at you and say, hey, look at me. Reds can be pink tinged or brick colored. One of my personal favorites is Benjamin Moore Vermilion. It's a great hue that works well with khaki  tans, cool whites and even lime greens, for that knock you off your feet room.

Frame the view - It's a bit risky to do window coverings with a color as in your face as red, and a little bit can go a long way. For the best look, combine red with other fun colors. You can achieve a summer, beachy look by installing striped fabric panels of red, yellow, green and white. It's fresh, colorful and instantly refreshes your windows without being overkill. For a more formal look, use wider stripes, combining red with brown or gray. Whether you are looking out at trees, the ocean or just your neighbors wall, stripes with red will make whatever you see look better.

Eat it up - A punch of color is always appropriate on the dining table and red is the perfect compliment here. Whether it's mix and matching with your fine bone china or layering colored plates, any table will be exciting with a little red thrown in. Here again, you might take extra red fabric and give it new life as a table cloth or napkins. When you think about it, red is the color of food and I know my appetite is awakened by names like Raspberry, Rhubarb, Cherry and Tomato. When it comes to table decor, you are only limited by your imagination. Raid your kids' room for red marbles, use them in a vase as your centerpiece. Make every meal a night out.

Red light district - I'm not suggesting that you put a red light bulb outside your door, bur red is a very hot color for light fixtures. It can add a bit of personality to an otherwise staid and unexciting room. Hanging red glass pendants over the breakfast bar or  table is very modern and an easy way to update the area. Even incorporate a little red by finding Murano glass, which mixes multi colors. Squatty ceramic lamps also give a very cool and contemporary presence to a living room and a color like LIpstick or Rouge can add a dose of romance to the bedroom. Red in lighting is where this color can literally shine. Glass and ceramic both reflect light and still look good after you have dimmed the lights.

It's a natural - I have already mentioned how red is the color of many foods, but it's also natures way of having fun. Plant strawberry as ground cover and enjoy the small, delicate fruit that punctuates the green leaves. Many flowering bushes including Fuchsia, Camelia and Azalea are available in brilliant reds. Summer just wouldn't be the same without red impatiens or geraniums. Winter brings us Cyclamen as well as the ever popular Poinsettia. Liven up your kitchen counters and your entertaining with bowls of red apples, peppers and cherries. We recently planted a red rose bush and look forward to its brilliant velvety petals blooming this year in the yard.

Lean on it - Probably the easiest way to make a change to your room is with pillows. They are easy to find and can be as personal as you like. Here is where red can really do its thing. Add brightly colored throw pillows to your sofa or bed. Mix up patterns and shapes. Plaids are really trending right now and run the gamut from dark wools to bright and summery seersucker. My family Scottish plaid is red and yellow. It's mellow yet royal and looks stunning against off whites and warm browns. Whether you choose linen or leather, red accents update any decor. And the best part is that pillows can be found for very little money, making it easy to change out seasonally.

So whether you are the ravishing red, salsa red or blushing rose type, add a little intensity to your life this spring. Embrace your personal shade and let it shine. And tell us in the comments section below, what red gets you going? 

Steve Wallace lives in Danville, California. An established Interior Designer for over 20 years, his work has appeard in Palm Springs Life and he is the author of a soon to be published book about design and the way we live.  He can be reached at  925 915 1005 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit www.SteveWallaceDesign.com.

Steve Wallace Design is pleased to announce its new office in Walnut Creek.  Please join us in a reception "Celebrating Interior Design and Art" on March 1 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.  Call or email for directions and to RSVP.  


Last Updated (Thursday, 16 February 2012 19:54)


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