No one would be surprised to hear that red is a tough color to decorate with. Even the darkest shades of red tend to be pretty intense. And the brightest ones? Whew, don’t get us started. Thankfully, there are plenty of interior designers who have taken on the challenge of decorating with red and who have left us with all kinds of red home décor inspo to sift through.
Meet the Expert
Meg Lavalette is an interior designer and founder of LAVA Interiors.
These designers’ tireless efforts have given us answers to questions like, What colors go with red, anyway? And, Can I really pull off putting red there? These heroes have already done most of the work for all us. All we have to do is comb through their work and learn from it.
Burgundy + Brown
The easiest way to deal with a vibrant shade of red? Pair it with a neutral. Warm neutrals, like browns, can mellow out even the boldest of burgundies, leaving your space feeling earthy, grounded, and cozy. And don’t be afraid to play with different shades of brown, either. When you’re dealing with such a versatile color, you can mix and match various hues without overwhelming your space.
Candy Red + Orange
Decorating with red is a bold move—one that becomes even bolder when you add orange to the mix. But if you’re not afraid of a vibrant palette, the pair can make a stunning statement. To keep the colors from overpowering your space, consider using them in a print. We know, we know—a red-and-orange print sounds like a home decor nightmare. But the print’s neutral background color will balance out the vibrant shades, making them a little easier on the eye.
Scarlet + Mint
Red can hold its own against a variety of vibrant shades, but mint is a particularly fun color to pair it with. Because mint is so much lighter than red, the two create an exciting contrast when paired. Plus, mint greens notes can complement the darkest of reds, while its cool blue undertones can mellow out the brightest of scarlets. "Red is fantastic with a pale muted green," says Lavalette. "These complementary colors bring out the best in one another, and pairing it with something lighter and more subdued avoids a Christmas theme."
Carmine + White
Everything goes great with white—and red is no exception. Use red pieces to add pops of color in an otherwise minimalist space. Or let white serve as an accent in an incredibly bold and vibrant interior. With a combination this classic, it’s pretty much impossible to go wrong.
Burnt Red + Turquoise
Red and turquoise aren’t complements on the color wheel, but they’re pretty darn close. The colors bring out the best in each other, with red highlighting turquoise’s innate vibrancy, and turquoise making red feel both calmer and cozier. Use the pair in your accent pieces, or let them take center stage. They’ll make an eye-catching addition to your home, no matter where you put them.
Burgundy + Blush
Blush is an excellent almost-neutral. The rosy shade feels warm, but subdued—making it a great partner for a range of vibrant colors. Though fire-engine red can overpower more delicate shades, like blush, darker reds can be a little more cooperative. Pair your prettiest blushes with your deepest burgundies to create a combination that’s as surprising as it is stunning.
Garnet + Black
Black will intensify any color it’s paired with, so it can be tough to combine with red. But if you stick with deeper, warmer shades—like brick and garnet—you can end up with a palette that feels sleek, sophisticated, and not at all overwhelming.
Maroon + Lime Green
If you think red can be hard to decorate with, lime green can be even tougher. And the thought of pairing the two is enough to send many of us into a tailspin. The thing is, though, lime green pairs magnificently with dark maroons and burgundies. The colors compliment each other shockingly well, creating a combination that feels sophisticated, surprising, and completely in balance.
Poppy + Blue
Blue is a no-fail addition to any palette, even when that palette is particularly bright and bold. While lighter blues can mellow out more vibrant shades of red, darker blues can ground them in coziness. Both pairs look absolutely lovely—and are surprisingly easy to decorate with.
Cherry + Light Gray
Looking for an easy combo that’s less obvious than red and white? Red and light gray is a solid choice. Light gray can offer a backdrop that’s a little more dynamic than what you’d get from classic white—while being just as easy to decorate with.
Burgundy + Olive Green
Many shy away from pairing red with green, because the combination can feel too reminiscent of the holidays. But opt for an olive green so warm it’s almost gold, and you’ll end up with a seriously stunning duo—and one that doesn’t feel too season-bound at all. Pair the shade with a rich burgundy to create an earthy decor scheme, and get ready to snuggle up in cozy warmth.
Ruby + Navy
Because navy is just a shade away from black, it’s one of the most versatile almost-neutrals around. And since it’s not quite as slick as black, it won’t automatically intensify all the colors around it. Place navy alongside any shade of red you’re decorating with, and trust that it will do the work for you. Navy will hold its own against the darkest reds, while grounding the brightest ones in mellow coziness.
Scarlet + Copper
Brighter shades of brown—like copper and caramel—look incredibly pretty next to red. Red’s vibrancy brings out the warm undertones in lighter browns, making them look statement-making, instead of neutral. When paired, the colors look so similar that they almost blend together. Place both around the room, and let them echo each other in harmony.
Rose Red + Jade Green
Green and red can be tough to pair. But if you’re curating a space that’s textured and bohemian, you can pull off the combination without much effort. Opt for deep jade green, and complement it with an array of different reds. By selecting printed pieces that combine the colors for you, you can keep the pair from skewing too holiday-inspired.
Brick + Pewter
Pewter pairs well with any color. But it looks particularly great next to red. Let a brick red accent add sophisticated warmth to a pewter interior. Or create a punchier palette by combining pewter pieces with fire-engine red accents.
Strawberry + Pink
Pink and red may scream Valentine’s Day. But when placed alongside slick blacks and deep browns, the pair can look absolutely breathtaking. Opt for works of art that combine the two shades, or play around with patterns that make full use of both colors—just be sure to keep them grounded with a couple darker hues.
Poppy + Forest Green
Forest green looks good next to anything—red included. To keep the color combination feeling bohemian and textured, opt for printed red pieces, rather than solid ones. (And bonus points if the print combines red and forest green for you.)
Currant + Charcoal
Charcoal is really just a subdued version of black. So it should come as no surprise that it looks great next to red. If you’re hoping to curate a cozy, earthy interior, pair the color with darker brick reds and burgundies. And don’t shy away from printed pieces—the color combination lends itself well to patterns.
Burgundy + Lilac
Red and purple may sound like a bit of a mess. But the colors actually pair incredibly well, especially when they’re rendered in a graphic way. Seek out pieces that pair violet with scarlet, and lilac with burgundy—and let them steal the spotlight in your space.
Periwinkle makes a lovely backdrop for bold, vibrant reds. The light blue color is subtle enough to act like a neutral, but strong enough to balance out your decor scheme. Use it to offset your most vivid accents. And who knows? It might do such a good job balancing out your space that you’ll be tempted to throw a few more vibrant colors into the mix.
Brick + Beige
At first glance, beige might seem like a washed-out neutral. But underneath it all, it’s a pretty warm color. Pair it with equally warm reds—like bricks and burgundies—and watch as the colors combine to create a rich and textured palette that feels totally harmonious.