How decorating with a pop of red is the latest interiors trend

Romantic or slightly irritating? The duality of red makes it a tricky colour to play with, whether that be in your wardrobe, for example, or outside, in interior design. I am the testament to being weary of using this shade – I own one crimson knit sweater, filed under the never-worn category, and no piece of red décor is currently gracing my home. However, I sense that’s about to change…

It was during a scrolling session on TikTok when Brooklyn-based interior designer Taylor Simon (@intayriors) lit up my screen and changed my perspective of red forever. I, along with around one million others, became captivated by Taylor’s viral video on what she calls the ‘unexpected red theory’. Intrigued? Read on to find out more…

Kitchen extension with colourful steel work and Crittall window.
Can a flash of red be the cherry on the cake when decorating your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom? Architecture: Mel. Architect. Interior design: Palmer & Stone. Photography: Emily Marshall.
Blue patterned wallpaper on the upper half of the wall with blue panelling on the bottom half, with a steel washstand, white basin and a marble worktop and a red circular mirror above it.
Add interest to your bathroom by introducing an unexpected pop of red. Dado Atelier Sapo wallpaper in Seaglass, £185 per roll, The Roost.

So, what is the ‘unexpected red theory’?  

According to Taylor, adding a pop of red – big or small – to a space where it seemingly doesn’t belong can automatically make the room look better. Of course, I had my doubts, but as she went on to showcase her point, I was hooked! And how can you make it work in your kitchen, bedroom or bathroom, I hear you ask? I spoke to industry experts to get their take on this social media sensation.

Kitchen design featuring a large steel beam and a central island with three bar stools.
The Hillside House project by Mike Tuck Studio features a large steel beam painted in red. Photography: Luca Piffaretti.

How can you use red in your kitchen?

“The unexpected red theory absolutely applies in the kitchen,” Melissa Klink, creative director at kitchen company Harvey Jones, assures me. From creating a statement feature out of your island to adding a few pops of this cherry shade on your open shelves, there are plenty of fun and clever ways to decorate your kitchen with red.

“One way to add a pop of red to your kitchen design is by adding a statement island or a peninsula. Not only are they super functional but they also look beautiful, especially in a red hue. Red can also be incorporated through splashbacks,” advises Jen Nash, head of design at Magnet.

And if you want to introduce the colour into your kitchen in a more subtle way, Jen recommends smaller items such as appliances, cushions and chairs. “Try painting the inside of a pantry or breakfast dresser, updating a light fitting or adding a red picture frame,” adds Melissa. “Red is a warm colour that instantly brings personality, character and sophistication to what might be a simple room.”

View inside a kitchen larden with red painted interior.
For a fun surprise, why not paint the inside of your larder? Handmade Shaker kitchen, from £10,000, Olive & Barr.
Pink kitchen design with colourful wall art, blue pendant lights and a minimalist run of cabinets.
A subtle way of decorating your kitchen using red is to add a few colourful chairs, wall art or light fitting, as seen in this project by interior designer Matthew Williamson. Photography: Damian Russell.

Does red really work in bathrooms?

While you may not think of red as a first choice for your bathroom, if you incorporate it carefully, you can create a surprisingly stylish space. “Introduce this colour through elements like brassware, heated towel rails, tiles, or baths and basins to create focal points,” recommends Louise Ashdown, head of design at West One Bathrooms.

“Alternatively, you could incorporate it in less conventional ways, such as with a statement wallpaper, bold vanity or painted external of a bath. When balanced with neutral tones and complemented by adequate lighting, red can transform the bathroom into a vibrant and inviting sanctuary,” continues Louise.

Jamie Bebbington, managing director at Aston Matthews, agrees: “Red has always been the most eye-catching of colours, it creates a real pop in any setting and you don’t need to include much to bring other colours in the room to life. I think red works particularly well with deep indigo blue for a sophisticated bathroom scheme.”

Red decorating ideas for bedrooms

As for the bedroom, if you’re new to red or nervous about turning the heat up too fast, start with the little details. Becca Stern, creative director and co-founder at colourful storage company Mustard Made, advises, “Bring red into a room through soft furnishings; they will add an element of surprise and create interest without overpowering the space.”

Another creative way of welcoming red into your home is through paint, using it on anything from structural beams to window and door frames. “Be brave and rebel against decorating rules,” suggests Helen Shaw, director of marketing (international) at paint brand Benjamin Moore. “Why not use masking tape to play with angles and introduce unexpected geometry to a corner, creating your own modern take on coving in a fearless, eye-catching way.”

It seems Christian Dior was right when he said, ‘there is certainly a red for everyone’. So, why don’t you do something a little unexpected today?

Shop the look

Ready to embrace decorating your home with pops of red? Get inspired by our moodboard…

Selection of red coloured homeware, including a bath, lamp, mirror, handle, paint swatch, basin mixer, tea plate and coffee machine.
1. Huguenot™ No.49 crimson red paint, £37 for 1 litre of Olive Stone emulsion, Mylands. 2. Ruan round mirror in red 70cm, £118.80, Där Lighting. 3. Vola HV1 monobloc basin mixer in Bright Red, £590.40, West One Bathrooms. 4. Grinder and brewer espresso machine in Red, £849.95, Smeg. 5. Rimini cast iron bath, £2600, Aston Matthews. 6. Rosy Red scalloped tea plates, £99 for a set of four, Casa by Josephine Jenno. 7. Oxy Fire Red hive handles 20cm, £26.99, Dowsing & Reynolds. 8. Raie fabric table lamp in red and white, £149, Heal’s.

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