Nature’s Color Wisdom: Lessons on Red From the Great Outdoors
Dab some of Mother Nature’s rouge around the home for an eye-opening look
From blazing fires and sunsets to breathtaking rocks, fall foliage and flowers, red is the color of drama. Decorating with red, when done right, can bring a room to life like nothing else. Let’s have a look at this powerful hue through the lens of nature.
Using fall red in the home: A clear, warmish red, the color of sugar maple leaves, is a conversation-inducing color ideally suited to a sitting room or dining room.
Red with blues and grays. One of the most striking mates for red in nature is blue. Consider red blooms beside a silvery gray succulent, scarlet leaves against a slate sky or a fiery sunset over an inky sea.
Using red and blue at home: Red and blue together can be quite dramatic, as in the living space shown here. Dark gray acts as a foil for vibrant blue and flashes of red — this is a look not for the color-shy!
In the dining room shown here, vivid red and blue are tempered by large swaths of white and plenty of natural wood, making for a dramatic yet livable space. Also note that the shade of the blue chairs is closer to turquoise, which reads as a cheerier color (the color of summer skies) than inky blue (the hue of a frothy sea).
Using red and gray at home: Red and gray are quite easy to work with, especially when the gray is a natural material (like slate tiles) and the red is a glossy accent, like the Tolix stools shown here. Think of the red as a fiery flash — the burst of a bonfire on a beach.
Red and yellow in nature. Deeper reds and yellows appear together in fall, but if an autumnal look is not your cup of tea, you may still like red and yellow together in another way. Think of a fresh, bright summer garden, abundant with blooming roses — the reds are pure and sparkling; the yellows are creamy.
Using red and yellow at home: Cream and buttercup make inviting mates to red in this cheerful living room scheme. Plenty of crisp, spotless white keeps the red and yellow feeling current.
Red on exteriors. Red has a long history as an exterior color. Think of red barns, red doors and red temples. A bright, clear red trim can look splendid against weathered wood siding or shingles, or make a bold statement on a white house. To go with red as an allover exterior color, try a slightly dulled, warm cranberry; it tends to be more pleasing to the eye than a too-bright red.
‘Red Sky in the Morning 03’ Artwork
Tell us: How do you feel about decorating with red: love it, hate it? Have a favorite red paint color? Share your thoughts and tips in the Comments.
Red in the natural world inspires awe. It’s dramatic red rock formations in the desert, the flash of a cardinal’s wing, the blaze of maple trees in the fall. Red is used to attract, as in juicy strawberries and vibrant red tulips — but also to warn, as in poisonous mushrooms and hot chili peppers. Thinking about this dual nature of red, it makes sense that people tend to either love it or hate it in their homes. Red can be cheerful and positive, like plump apples and rosy cheeks, or full of daring, like a red sunrise or the heart of a bonfire.
The particular red of fall leaves tends to be on the warm side, with a bit of orange. The contrast of red leaves against a sky — either brilliant blue or steely, overcast gray, makes the leaves even more vivid by comparison. Natural companion colors are yellow, orange and green; and later in the season, brown. Real red apples (not supermarket Red Delicious) that ripen in the early fall are also on the warm side, with hints of pink and green.