Color of the Month—Red, 2017

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Color of the Month, Feature


Red Adventures

“Quick—if you hear the word red, what’s the first image that comes to mind? A stop sign? A fire truck? When it comes to red, the first thought is often of its bright, energetic tones, but like other colors, red comes in a full spectrum of shades that can communicate an equally broad range of sensibilities.”

For this exciting and passionate—and sometimes even subdued color—we looked to Dana Rice at Golden Paintworks for a more “decorative” perspective on this far from neutral color. Red isn’t the pariah it used to be, she points out. “The Color Marketing Group, a well-established and recognized international association of color design professionals, included three reds in its 2017 North American Forecast: Dried Red Chili, Compassionate Red and Attitude,” she said. “Two of these hues tend toward the darker, dusky side of red that offers deep warmth, while at the same time being more subdued. The third, Attitude, has a slight slant toward the orange range which hits a more vibrant color space that demands attention.”



Fast Fries and Wine

And just like white, off white, grey, beige, and that host of neutrals you mix until you drop, all shades of red have their place. “When it comes to paint or decorative finishes, the direction to go with red depends, of course, on the space where it will be used and the feeling that is desired for that space,” said Rice. Sometimes you just want a little fun! “A bright red is often used by fast food chains and in children’s toys as a way to grab attention or to communicate a sense of fun. Deep reds, on the other hand, are more calming and invite the viewer to sit and stay, have some wine, and be enveloped by a leather couch. Deep reds can be perfect in bars, dens, and home libraries.They are rich, cozy and regal all at the same time.”

Chances are if you suggest a whole room in red you’ll get some interesting looks, to say the least. To save scandalized customers from fainting right there in your color tool area, you can work up to it by degree. Try it as an accent, where it can add more than just a touch of amazing. And don’t forget the furniture! “Paint a bookshelf or dresser with a bright middle-red to add a pop of energy in a room of primarily neutral colors or in a space with pale blue or yellow walls,” Dana suggests.

“For a bolder, yet completely classic approach, use a warm medium red to paint kitchen cabinets in an otherwise black & white color scheme. For a more decorative approach, red alongside gold creates a celebratory effect, making an environment appear expensive and rich.”

A darker or a chili red is a great companion to browns and neutrals. Try it on a door, a coffee table—a shake of chili to spice things up. “For someone willing to go a little less conventional, dark, brownish red accents paired with teal can make for a beautiful, contemporary look that translates well in both a home and commercial setting,” said Rice.

Don’t forget that we’re talking to a decorative finish company, so a little texture can add a lot of flair to a home or a business. “Using shades of red to tint a textural finish can accomplish many of the same emotions as a flat color, but with the added interest of a dimensional or layered decorative finish,” she advised.

So next time someone wants to go a little bit adventurous, don’t rule out red. Or if they want to go subtle, silent, or secluded, don’t rule out red. Whatever their pleasure, it’s always an adventure!


PRO TIP: Use red under metallic gold. Using red as a basecoat in preparation for a metallic gold application helps the mica in the gold to “pop,” creating a richer gold than if a more neutral basecoat is used.

Golden Paintworks is the commercial coatings division of Golden Artist Colors, Inc. By listening to customer needs, then applying our considerable knowledge and experience to addressing those needs, Golden Paintworks innovates on behalf of people who work with paint every day. We don’t just make paint, we live it. This is a company born of a passion for paint and an uncompromising commitment to quality!


This sample shows a non-traditional use of a red tinted Venetian Plaster Texture created by brush applying the first coat, followed by a second coat that was trowel applied and then burnished. The ridges from the brush application create variability in the burnishing step, resulting in a final finish that catches the light without being overly glossy. This linear finish could be equally suitable for a dining room, feature wall, or reception area.