Red accents in a room have a voice of their own, so pick decorating colours that won't shout them down. Think of colours as music: red soloists can be high up the scale or can be low notes, depending on the shade; perhaps your reds are light and fiery or rich, deep baritones. All you need to do is bring in colour harmonies that put red at the front of the stage.
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Any Shade of Red
Red splashes of colour in a room look stunning when set against black and two or three shades of grey. Add in some white for crispness. Use pale grey, dove grey and dark grey to create three-dimensional architectural effects. Don't be afraid to paint two or all four walls in one colour; steer clear of the one-wall paint job, which some decorators feel has passed its best, although it isn't completely out of favour.
Deep, Rich Reds
Rich reds with just the merest drop of blue in the mix look attractive against old golds, ochres and dusky blues. It's the contrasts that make the effect so dramatic, particularly if you tie in some focused lighting. Try incorporating a touch of gold with a wide, dry brush, just glancing over the wall surface with the bristles to make the addition as subtle as possible. Light will catch those thin streaks and add texture and interest.
Bright, Fiery Reds
Fiery flashes of red stand out beautifully against a background of rich blues or greens with a touch of red in the undertones. Vibrant pillarbox reds suit both daylight and evening shadows, so maximise window light to allow them to sing as well as situating subtle lighting to bathe them in a pool of golden light at night. Choose your contrast colours in daylight, as well as under artificial light, to check the changes in tone.
Reds that incorporate colours from the top end of the spectrum, such as orange and yellow, sing out when set against lighter wall colours in a room that gets a lot of daylight. Colours that are too rich or dark will overwhelm the subtle, tinted reds, so in these instances you can experiment with whites, off-whites and pastels. Use three or four shades of pale colour for picking out design features.
The Deep End
Red accents that are at the deeper end of the colour scale, such as magenta, rich brick and colours resonant of blues and purples, can get lost if walls are dark blues and purples, but you can get away with dusky or earthy shades of the deeper colours to bring out the richness of the reds. Don't be afraid to use rich colours for your walls; colour schemes like this do make a room feel smaller, but that can be outweighed by the impact.
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