DECORATING An unexplected splash of red is one way to brighten homes

Judicious amounts of red can bring a room to life.
It doesn't take a lot of color to make a big difference in a room, especially when the color in question is red.
From the cherry red of a child's tricycle to frothy raspberry to rich, deep claret, red adds sizzle and pop. In homes where neutrals rule, or in rental property where bold impulses need to be reined in, judicious amounts of red can provide the design equivalent of a dash of chili powder.
"Even a little red brings life to a room," says Bethesda, Md., decorator Marjory Segal of the Well-Furnished Garden & amp; Home in Bethesda. "The eye goes right to it."
Segal used red paint to cover the floor in a child's show house bedroom, and on the bedroom walls in her own house. She has covered an ottoman in red leopard print and disguised plain cardboard boxes under red velvet.
"There's nothing prettier than red in small spaces," says Carolyn Wilson, principal of Design in a Day in Chevy Chase, Md. She likes red with a pale yellow ceiling and high-gloss white trim in a tiny entry hall or foyer. Her favorite shades include Ruby Red (No. AC121R) and Tomatillo (No. AC115N), both from Duron's Millennium Collection; and Benjamin Moore's Confederate Red (No. 2080-20). One caveat: Walls can take more coats of red than you might think. Use a red-tinted primer underneath and you might get away with two coats instead of three or more.
Very comforting
Washington designer Victor Shargai thinks red is ideal for dining rooms. "It's associated with passion, but it's also really warm and comforting to live with," he says. "There's nothing wrong with 'comforting.' "
Designer Pamela Gaylin Ryder in Washington prefers her reds in neutral territory, like a basement home office with white floor-to-ceiling bookcases and sisal carpeting. "Carpet the stairs leading down to the room with a snappy cottage-y red rag rug," she says.
Little surprise
Interior designer Bud Yeck of the Mill Company in Falls Church, Va., recommends "a shot of red where you least expect it" -- say, on a lampshade. One of the best things about red in small doses, he says, is that it keeps an otherwise formal room from feeling too stuffy.
Washington designer Stan Kelly suggests Chinese red porcelain for texture; tiny red mosaic tiles for shower walls in a black bathroom, and red silk throw pillows with celery, peach and off-white fringe to give oomph to a pale green room. But be aware that a little red goes a long, long way, he says. "We love red Oriental rugs, but one is enough red for one room."
In a project she's working on right now, Bethesda, Md., interior designer Camille Saum has proposed red for virtually every room of the house: a paprika pile rug for the den; garnet chenille on the dining room chairs; a persimmon floral for the kitchen/family room windows; and a red flange border with crystal beads for the greenish-gold silk music room draperies.
"We pulled the whole house together with red," she says. "When we get to the bedrooms, red will follow like the caboose on the 'Little Engine That Could.' "

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