h The Colour Red | Resene Paints
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Red-hot and royal


Red is a bright warm colour positioned at the least refracted end of the spectrum and the furthest away from violet.

 
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Historically, red was one of the more rare and most expensive pigments for dyes so it was referred to as a "regal" colour. Only kings and queens and heads of church and state could afford to wear robes coloured in shades of red. Even so these were not the vibrant hues we now accept as true reds for it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that synthetic chemical dyes were invented. Prior to this time reds were made from earth oxides, plants, insects and "sang de boeuf" - ox blood!

Studies of the effects of colour have shown that red increases sexual activity, heals wounds, raises blood pressure, makes weight seem heavier, and time seem longer. It excites and stimulates and is excellent for creation but not for the execution of ideas. Small children are drawn to it as it is so visually interesting - hence that first joyous kindergarten painting - a bold splash of crimson!

Red has such a strong impact that it should be used carefully in the home. If bright red is used too generously it can be jarring and uncomfortable, but properly handled it can be warm and welcoming, setting a distinctive tone as the major element in a colour scheme. Because it is an "advancing" colour it makes rooms glow with rich intimacy. One way of learning to enjoy the colour if you are wary of using it in large quantities is to use it as a small part of an overall look: - part of the sofa upholstery fabric, potted geraniums in an otherwise quiet kitchen, a lampshade glowing from the depths of a darkened lounge, or perhaps as a feature wall colour with a favourite painting or gilt-framed mirror.

Red is particularly attractive teamed with its natural complementary colour - green - yet it also works with soft warm colours like creams or yellow. Teamed with white, red is domesticated; and is often seen in kitchens coupled with mid blue Willow patterned china and pine furniture. It can be combined with other shades of red as a glaze on walls where the uneven colour and texture creates depth and warmth that a uniform colour can't. Toning it up and down with slightly different shades and embellishing it with touches of gold makes a sumptuous statement. These types of schemes are often used in dining rooms or occasionally bedrooms, as the gold "tames" the red.

Reds are both warm and cold. The concept of a hot red is easy to understand, but the idea of a cool red is harder to envisage. The hottest reds have yellow in their makeup and they veer towards orange; white cooler reds contain some element of blue which takes them towards the violet-red tones seen in old-fashioned French roses, plums, claret wine and gemstones like rubies and garnets. Cool reds are more moody and restrained; they do not dominate as much as the warmer hues do.

So roll out the red carpet, paint the town red and grab yourself a Resene testpot so you can start experimenting with red in your own home.

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