ROY G BIV: Red kitchens

I’d like to introduce a new series, ROY G BIV. I’ll go through the colors, discussing how to use them in a particular room. Or maybe I’ll show a bunch of rooms using that color.

To start, of course is red.

Red is one of those colors that can bring so much warmth to a space, but at the same time, can make it down right tacky and tawdry. Like overusing it in a bedroom because you think it’s somehow romantic to be cloaked in red or pairing it with black because that’s somehow goth. Nope, no thanks.

What is sexy about red is using it sparingly. Like say, the way we love red lipstick, a simple red dress, or a killer pair of red stilettos. Dressing in red head to toe, hair included would be a different story…

The only room I can think of where someone pulled off all red is Diana Vreeland’s Garden in Hell, designed by Billy Baldwin.

“I love red because it’s happy and exhilarating,” says New York designer Alex Papachristidis. “You can also mix a variety of reds and they look great together; I don’t even mind if they clash a bit. Red is dynamic and adds life to a room. I agree with a quote from Diana Vreeland: ‘All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red.’” (Source)

(Source 1, 2)

Sure it’s easy to buy a beautiful red sofa, to contrast an all beige room, or buy a red bedspread for a vintage iron bed, but what about in the kitchen?

How do we create a pop of color in the kitchen that still reads as warm, inviting, and classic? There are so many sad/bad red kitchens online. Here’s what I would do:

Choose one area of the kitchen to focus on. 



The red floor in this kitchen and hall was the first thing I noticed in this Spanish-Mediterranean home. Followed by the all white walls and cabinetry. To tie the colors together we have natural wood elements in the table and oranges/yellows/blacks/browns in the art and tchotchkes. Here black is used sparingly and the space remains elegant. I can picture this room buzzing with family and friends!


Another way to bring red to the kitchen is through wall paint. Notice that this is not a blaringly bright primary color red, but a warm rust. It is kept warm and happy as kitchens should be with the mid-century teak dining table and cabinetry.

Paint only the bottom half of your kitchen cabinetry.



How vibrant and happy is this kitchen! I especially love the red cabinets with the blue tiles. No one ever said you had to do subway tiles or some snoozy backsplash in your kitchen! Keeping the color to the bottom half of the room keeps it from becoming overwhelming and dated looking.

Don’t use primary red.

As I just said, I wouldn’t recommend using bright red. This is how rooms go from warm to tacky. It’s harsh on the eyes and I don’t know why anyone would want it in their home!


(Color wheel red)

Instead why not go for blue reds, or rusty reds.


Use red as an accent. A small accent.



You know white kitchens are super popular. Bring red in with pops of pendant lighting. If this were my kitchen I would have brought some more color in with a rug underneath the table.



How about highlighting architectural details like window trim? Something unexpected!



I almost skipped over kitchen islands because all the ones I found online were atrocious looking. There are some sad red kitchens on the internet! Which is totally the point of this entry! Teeeheehaahaaa.  But this red island sits happy in this charming little colorful kitchen. The look is kept clean thanks to the all white cabinets (and fridge!) and hood. It contrasts well with the green and blue checkered floor without being color overload.

Bring in red via accessories.



Here a stool sits happy in this colorful kitchen.



In Marisa Tomei’s apartment, she pairs antique 1940s red chairs with her Eero Saarinen. I love the contrast of the 2 styles!







Most likely in a kitchen or dining room situation, you will need storage. Why not bring color in via a cabinet or a buffet? I love the idea of the bar inside the china cabinet! A great way to show off your glassware collection. I have seen ugly ol’ cabinets for cheap on Craigslist. All they need is your choice of red and maybe shiny new hardware. A customized piece!



Red Persian rugs are out there by the plenty. Add texture, warmth for your feet, and color with a rug by the sink or under the kitchen table. In this galley style kitchen, it runs the length of the room, breaking up the dark floors below. Also, look at that red rocker! Aw, so cute!

Use red appliances.

I personally prefer the pastel Smegs but seeing as how we’re on red…





They also carry stoves and other things that may be up your appliance alley!

What do you think of red? Do you currently use it in your home? How about in your kitchen? Any plans to incorporate it in the future?

The right red mixed with neutrals (whites, browns, creams, browns, and black in certain circumstances) will always be pleasing to the eye. But it can also be beautiful paired with its complement, green and its primary friend blue. Just make sure you’re not singing Jingle Bells and the Star-spangled Banner!


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