Here Are 16 Colors that Go With Red, According to Designers

updated Feb 29, 2024
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No matter where you find it in nature or how muted the hue is, red is a powerful color that brings a bit of dramatic flair to any space. Whether it’s your favorite lipstick, a perfectly ripe apple, or the American flag, designers and color psychologists agree that the color red commands attention and stirs up excitement wherever it’s found. That also makes it a bit tricky to find colors that go with red.

While the color red may not be an ideal color to swathe across every room in the house (and it can be tricky to paint a dark color like this one), just a tasteful touch, be it a tomato-y hue or an electrified shade, can be a powerful addition to any space in need of a design upgrade. We’ve sought out some of the nation’s top design talent, as well as some favorite rooms from our archives, to help you determine the best shades to pair with red.

This range of red color pairings are suited for all design types, whether you’re a more-is-more maximalist style, refined traditionalist, or have a penchant for bohemian style, proving that red’s versatility in the home is virtually endless. 

Quick Overview

Tips for Pairing Colors With Red

  • Pair with cooler colors for a dynamic effect. In general, red is a warm color. So, when paired with cool colors like blues or purples, you’ll get a vibrant, energetic look, says Irene Tarroza, writer and editor for Archic Furniture. “The cool colors can help soften the intensity of the red, creating a balanced and visually striking composition.”
  • Pair with warmer colors for a harmonious vibe. This combination tends to exude warmth and vitality, Tarroza says. “The warm tones complement the intensity of red and enhance its passionate and powerful nature. This combination can evoke feelings of enthusiasm, passion, and comfort.”
  • Consider the context and purpose of your design. Then, choose colors that go along with your intended vibe, Tarroza says. “Consider the proportions of the colors; using red as an accent alongside neutrals or other complementary colors can prevent overwhelming visual stimulation. Explore different shades and tones of red to find the right level of intensity for your project.”

1. Red and Metallic

Though red and metallic fixtures are both really bold design choices, red can actually act as a neutralizer between them, especially if you plan on using more than one type of metal. “I love mixing metals together — like mixing brass tones with silver tones. Red equalizes it. Red acts like the neutral between the two metals, which is just so interesting,” says Ivana Carbajal, a designer for Jamie Bush. “You could pair a chrome fixture with a red lampshade, or a gold picture frame and the subject matter is red. Applying it in those ways is where it’s interesting.”

2. Cherry Red and Chocolate: True Decadence

This one’s a great pairing for traditionalists to try if they’re looking to liven up just about any room in the house without straying from their aesthetic preferences. “Pairing chocolate and cherry red together are yummy like a chocolate with a cherry filling,” says Allison Paladino of Paladino Rudd Interior Design. “It’s such a great color combination—perfect for a traditional rich library.”

3. Red and Pastel Blues: Inviting and Inspiring

If making red the primary color in your space feels daunting, take a tip from designer Betsy Wentz who uses it as a bold yet inviting accent color in an otherwise soothing living space. This is another great color palette for traditionalists to look to if they are afraid of taking on more color. 

“Red can be a very strong color, and depending on the shade, I like to pair it with [calmer colors] to soften it,” she says. “Red and blue are a classic combination, so for a more traditional look, I pair navy blue with shades of red.”

Credit: Viv Yapp

4. Vivid Red and Hot Pink: Boldly Beautiful

While not for the faint of heart, this vibrant color combo is executed all across this London home, making for an upbeat, lively place to cook, work, entertain and refresh. Pops of gray and yellow add an unexpectedly fun contrast to the punchy colors without overtaking the primary combination. 

5. Persimmon and Cobalt: Unexpectedly Complimentary

Anne Hulcher Tollet of design firm Hanover Avenue says that these two colors are a perfect pair, as together they make for a “bold, vibrant, and exciting” combination.

“One of my favorite spaces I used this combination in was a bathroom I designed on a shoestring budget,” she says. “Everything in this space was sourced from salvage yards, bargain bins, and Habitat for Humanity Restores. I found the cobalt and white tiles in an old bin, and repurposed them to make the angled design. The sconces were sourced from a salvage yard and needed a refresh, so I painted them this fun persimmon color that I knew would look perfect with the bold cobalt tiles.”

Credit: Viv Yapp

6. Electric Red and Violet: Delightfully Bohemian

If pairing two dramatic colors like red and purple seem to be too daunting, try different shades of each for a swoon-worthy color combination. An electric red and  a pink-hued violet make a beautifully bohemian pairing that’s perfectly accented by a colorful collection of throw pillows.

7. Red, Navy, and White: Classic Combination

There’s a reason dozens of flags are red, white, and a deep, navy blue. According to interior designer Tara McCauley, the combination just works. “Red, white, and blue is a classic combination, but as red and blue are both primary colors, when put side by side, the effect can be quite loud,” she says. “I think a more sophisticated combination is primary red and a deep navy blue. “

Want to keep your room from veering into Flag Day territory? McCauley encourages you to keep it simple. “A graphic pattern like stripes might steer this color combination in a very obvious Americana direction, but sticking with  solids—and focusing on the interplay of matte and glossy textures—keeps things from looking too ‘on-theme,'” she says.

Credit: Angela Wator

8. Red and Turquoise: Elegant Yet Quirky

Consider red and turquoise the perfect combination for people who want to embrace their bold streak. These two vibrant shades are loud on their own but somehow, they neutralize each other when styled together. The end result with this pairing? A colorful room that’s surprisingly soothing. “The tertiaries all look great with red,” adds interior designer Fran Keenan. “It feels spunky and helps red relate to a coral reef, turquoise sea combo.”

Case in point: This Midwestern Victorian dining room, which feels quirky with its subtle, sea-colored chairs and red floral wallpaper. White trim and accents will help break up the intensity of these two power hues.

9. Red and Green: Joyful, Not Jolly

Since red and green are complementary colors, it’s only natural that they’d pair nicely in your home. This Brooklyn space uses varying shades of green to keep the combination from feeling like a holiday card. If you’re looking for an easy way to bring this color combination into your space, designers Janelle Hughes and Kim R. Williams of KJ Design & Mortar Styling recommend embracing your green thumb.

“By selecting more than one plant type, it helps ensure the contrast created by the greenery is not too jarring,” the duo says. “Red and green can create levels of high contrast, depending on their level of saturation.”

Credit: Lula Poggi

10. Red and Oranges: Subtle Warmth

Sometimes, the best design moments come when you choose a lane and stay in it. “Light waves are measured based on their energy and wavelength, and red is special because it has the longest wavelength and the least amount of energy,” Hughes and Williams share. “As a color, it really represents the story of two extremes! That is part of the reason why we love to let red shine by pairing it with colors that are close in the color spectrum, including orange.”

For a cool, modern vibe, combine red with various shades of orange and touches of neutral hues. With its bright tangerine cabinetry, pinkish-peach walls, and pops of navy and gray, this Barcelona home feels warm and welcoming.

11. Red and Beige: Rustic Charm

Looking for a way to tame red’s fiery quality? Add some beige to the mix. “We like to pair [red] with warm neutrals to bring some balance to the strong hue,” says Elizabeth Rees, founder of wallpaper company Chasing Paper. 

Admittedly, beige gets a bad rap for being boring on its own. When beige is paired with red, however, it can offer the right amount of contrast. Plus, it’s more soothing than a crisp, bright white. For example, the subtle texture from this oversized map rounds out the look of the red walls in the above bedroom, almost transporting you to the French countryside.

12. Red and Purple: Moody Maximalism

Located on the opposite ends of the color spectrum, red and purple aren’t the first two colors you’d think to put together. According to Elizabeth Sesser, associate at Ike Kligerman Barkley, this unlikely duo can deliver quite the punch, though. It all boils down to choosing the right shades. “Make sure that these colors are in the same tone range,” she says. “I would use this combination as accents on neutral ground so they can really stand out.”

In this renovated Victorian home, the tomato walls and reddish purple area rug complement, not compete with, each other. This is because they have relatively the same saturation, so the look is balanced when you put them into the same space.

13. Red, Black, and White: Retro Classic

Black, white, and re(a)d all over is more than a riddle. Turns out, it’s a reliable color combination that oozes a sweet, retro attitude. “I really love the combination of white, black, and red,” Sesser shares. “It’s a classic combination that really allows the red to pop. It’s also fail-proof—any tone of red will work with white and black.”

Contrary to this age-old riddle though, red doesn’t need to be “all over” to make a statement. Take a cue from this Chicago house and put an exclamation point on your room with a cherry-colored bench. A few pops of red can be enough, particularly if you chose one larger item to focus on.

14. Red and Blush: Modern Romance

Often, pink and red rooms can feel like you’re living inside a Valentine’s Day card. If you want to give this color combination a cool, modern edge, trade in the bubblegum pink for a subtle blush or millennial pink. In this eclectic Australian abode, the blush acts as a neutral ground, so the red sectional can be the center of attention.

15. Red and Light Yellow: Sunny Statement

Let’s face it: Subtlety is not yellow or red’s strong suit. Since they’re on the same end of the color spectrum, however, these two colors can actually play nice with each other.

 “Hues of red and yellow draw on the colors of sunshine, bringing warmth and energy to this living room without overwhelming one’s senses,” explains interior designer Marika Meyer. “Offset [these shades] with neutral tones of beige and white.” By incorporating softer shaders of each color, this Austin home is sweet and soft while still showing off its colorful side.

Credit: Paul Dyer

16. Wine Red, Glossy Black, and Gold: Opulent Elegance

Treat your home to a luxurious look with a deep, wine-inspired red and glossy, black pairing. “Deep reds can be tricky, depending on how much of a purple hue shows through,” explains designer Kendall Wilkinson. “Here, the purple has been downplayed and contrasted rather than intensified. The Bordéaux tone and black painted cabinet pair nicely, and the red almost becomes neutral in this pairing.”