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Making time for red

From the Resene decorating blog

Red is a vibrant and passionate colour that arrests the eye. It will always add interest to a home’s interior scheme and will make an instant design statement – but sometimes a little red also goes a long way.

Red can feel modern, traditional, rustic or timeless depending on the shade and context. From magentas like Resene Candy Floss with its pink undertones, through true reds like Resene Bright Red, to deep ox-blood, like Resene Dynamite, there are numerous variations of this eye-catching shade. Deep wine reds and burnt oranges are particularly on trend at the moment.

A bedroom with a red circular headboard

This headboard is painted in a rich and earthy red, Resene Prairie Sand, and paired with soft green bedlinen.

Walls painted in Resene Eighth Tana, timber floor finished in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, round drum side tables in Resene Tana and vases and bowls in Resene Lemon Grass, Resene Kangaroo, Resene Tana, Resene Prairie Sand and Resene Alpaca. Duvet cover, pillowcases, sheets, cushions, throws, lamp and clock from Citta. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

A red-cloaked powder room

While an all-red room such as a dining area or lounge can be particularly stimulating, less is often more with this colour. When used as an accent wall or simply a splash here and there, one thing is certain – red is never boring! To get a feel of the power of a red-cloaked room, try it first in a small area such as a powder room – the boldness of the walls will give the room an active, exciting ambience.

Style it your way

When considering which shade of red to use, pay attention to your home’s architecture as well as your general decorating style. If you have a contemporary home, consider pops of a bold, bright primary red like Resene Red Hot. On the other hand a traditional home benefits from a red tinged with burgundy or brown tones – try Resene Espresso or Resene Redwood.

“If you’re a fan of mid-century style choose a bright red like Resene Havoc,” says Interior designer Kate Alexander of Places and Graces. “It's a pure hue that packs a lot of punch so use it for highlights and in small amounts; for example on the spines of your doors or to upcycle a piece of furniture. Then add some modern shine by using glossy Resene Enamacryl rather than Resene SpaceCote Flat.”

Consider available light

When planning your scheme, remember that deep reds absorb light while brighter reds allow light to bounce off walls. Red with a touch of brown or purple will feel warmer than a pure red with hints of pink. Orange-tinged reds will make the space feel energised, while purple-red shades can create a more intimate and quiet atmosphere.

“Deep, maroon reds like Resene Vanquish, Resene Hot Chile or Resene Red Planet work wonders to establish a cosy and intimate feel. Use them on your walls in spaces like a dining room or lounge where you want to create drama,” says Kate.

Colour matches

“Red has a few tried and true pairing friends,” says Kate. “All shades work well with black and white – try earthy tones like Resene Scoria mixed with a soft black like Resene Blackjack for a bold yet sophisticated palette.

A red and blue Moroccan style interior - stencilled floor

Bold red with strong blue is a classic pairing.

This wall painted in striking Resene Dynamite is offset by the Moroccan-style stencilled floor in Resene Wishing Well and Resene Time After Time. Vase on floor in Resene Raging Bull. Chair from Indie Home Collective, Bonjour Madame Print, bowl from Father Rabbit, cotton stems and willow branches from Flux Boutique, cushion from Freedom. Project by Gem Adams, image by Wendy Fenwick.

A minimalist home interior with pops of red

This minimalist living area proves the point that even the smallest touches of red will pop and bring energy to a space.

Upper wall painted in Resene Half Concrete. Lower wall and squiggly lines painted in Resene Concrete, floor in Resene Quarter Concrete, hall table in Resene Concrete, DIY coffee table in Resene Triple Concrete, circle vase and tiny vase in Resene Soothe, tiny bud vase in Resene Triple Concrete, circle candleholder and wiggle tray in Resene Half Sauvignon, large bulb vase, ribbed vase and lacy dish in Resene Merlot and DIY artwork in Resene Half Sauvignon, Resene Triple Concrete and Resene Soothe. Wood lamp and ball cushion from Bohzali, lamp from Citta, chairs from David Shore, black glass bubble vases and circle candleholder from H&M Home. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Red also loves blue, in all its hues. For drama, choose a deep red with an equally deep blue – like Resene Code Red with Resene Wishing Well. Or keep your red dominant and pair it with an ocean-inspired blue/green like Resene Unwind.”

If you’re familiar with the colour wheel, you know that green is exactly opposite to red, making it a complementary colour. Green works beautifully with red, but to avoid making your home look like a Christmas card, try using a turquoise green in small amounts along with soft grey to break up the palette. Pops of lush greenery in the form of houseplants will also complement the scheme.

When mixing red with neutrals be sure to match the pureness of your hues. Bright red mixes well with white, while muddier maroon tones mix well with cream and tan. Try using an earthy red such as Resene Mexican Red with wood tones to instantly warm a room. And mixing red with soft grey and touches of magenta can make a room feel feminine and cosy.


A wall of shiny red kitchen cabinets in a contemporary kitchen can look incredible but for some, because red is often thought of as a ‘hot’ colour, painting your entire kitchen red could result in turning up too much heat. Instead try using red as an accent on the inside back of a cupboard or china cabinet to add vibrant energy to the space.

Romance in the bedroom

In the bedroom, red is passionate and cosy but too much can be overly stimulating. Try using red as a single feature wall, perhaps behind the bed for a touch of drama. Experiment with a soft terracotta or magenta rather than sticking to a fire-engine red or try using it for pops of colour paired with a neutral colour complement.

Top tips:

Resene Time After Time

October 30, 2021

For more advice on painting systems and what product to use on particular surfaces, such as kitchen cabinetry, furniture and baths, ask for your Resene paint expert in store or check the Resene website for helpful downloadable booklets and video tutorials.

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