Red is NOT a Four Letter Word When it Comes to Decorating

Decorating with red red Red decor

RED - why is this color so scary to people?  Most people think red is too bold to add to their homes or to select for fabrics and wall colors.  However, I want to suggest that red does not deserve the bad rap that it gets and to show a few uses for red that might make one sit up and take notice.

Historically some of the most stylish interiors have been decorated in red and red has been the preferred color for many of the chicest people in the world.  Red is the color of passion and creativity.  It draws attention like no other color and radiates energy.  Red is great in a living room, kitchen, entry hall or library.  Someone who has a hard time falling asleep might not want to use red in their bedroom but for any other part of the house, red can be right.  

One of my favorite red rooms of all time is the iconic library the legendary Albert Hadley (1920-2012) designed for his client, the philanthropist and socialite Brooke Astor (1902-2007):

 

I adore the use of the brass stringing and red lacquer together.  The red and gold books add texture and the red velvet upholstered chair, depth and luxury.  This is simply an impeccable room that is vibrant and cozy at the same time.

 

His protege Miles Redd went on to use red in many successful interiors.  Here is Miles Redd's updated version of a "red" library:

 

 

For me, the chicest woman of all time was Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Special consultant to the Costume Institute a the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Diana Vreeland (1903-1989). Although she mainly dressed in black, her absolute favorite color was....yes....RED!  My favorite image of her is in her apartment in Manhattan. 

Surrounded by red, the Queen of Fashion sits on her regal throne (sofa) surrounded by red floral fabric.  Designed for her by another legendary decorator (who actually trained Albert Hadley), Billy Baldwin (1903-1983), she dubbed her apartment the "Garden of Hell" but to me it is a paradise of glorious color which exudes passion, intelligence and energy. The photograph was taken by Horst P. Horst (1906-1999), the German-American fashion photographer.  Her apartment featured white walls with red doors and a wall-to-wall carpet.  Her dining room was simple but elegant with a multi-colored striped fabric on the walls and the banquette that featured red as the dominant color.

Here is what the First Lady of Fashion had to say about red:

 "Red is the great clarifier - bright, cleansing, revealing. It makes all colors beautiful. I can't imagine being bored with it - it would be like becoming tired of the person you love......All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red. I can never get painters to mix it for me. It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of Gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’—they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the color of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.”
For those wishing to dip their toes into the world of red decoration, I suggest something simple, such as a splash made with a red pillow, a red painting or a red lacquer table.  I love this calm room energized by red chairs and red paintings:
And this modern, contemporary room works too:
But for those looking for ways to incorporate red into an old house, I took the plunge and did it eight years ago.....and loved my red door until the day I sold my house. To me it just said...Welcome Home:
See you next week.  xoxo,  Grace

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