4 Colors That Go with Red, According to Designer Annie Sloan

by decwells
4 Colors That Go with Red, According to Designer Annie Sloan

Miguel Flores-Vianna

Nothing energizes a living space like a radiant shade of red. The ultimate power color, red, evokes an emotional response—such as passion from rich ruby, warmth from deep crimson, or vibrancy from striking scarlet. Not as calm as green or as beloved as blue, this fiery color tends to cause controversy among design enthusiasts. But for a color known for bringing the drama, what else should we expect?

Perhaps you take a bolder approach to decorating with red, like covering a living room in luscious cherry, or testing the waters with sharp cardinal accessories. Choosing the right complementary colors is key to a well-balanced scheme, according to color and paint expert Annie Sloan, creator of Chalk Paint.

“The color red has impact and va-va-voom. We are instinctively programmed to respond to this shade,” she says. “It’s the color of confidence—think: red lipstick, fire engines and ripe summer berries. What’s not to love?” While red can pair with a multitude of colors, the designer will refrain from mixing it with yellow (they’ll fight for the spotlight!). To help with your abundant decorating ideas, Sloan offers more of her best advice for incorporating the rainbow’s boldest color into your home. Here are the four best colors that go with red.

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For high contrast, pair red with cool colors.

“Enjoy the energy of this dynamic, delicious, sexy shade by pairing it with cool tones for maximum energy. You’d be surprised how popular this strong color combination was in Victorian and Regency times,” says Sloan, who suggests pairing a rustic, earthy red paint (like Primer Red) with sharp blue accents.

In his Manhattan apartment, designer Anthony Baratta livened up his sky blue living room with sumptuous red accents for an elegant, all-American look.


For contemporary flair, try pink and orange.

Look to the left and right of red on the color wheel for red’s complementary tonal shades—orange and pink—for a contemporary result. “The combination of these colors allows for a punchy color drenching,” says Sloan. Here, a geometric mural created with soft pink Antoinette, vibrant Barcelona Orange, and bright Emperor’s Silk paint from her collection.


For a traditional look, lean towards chocolate brown.

“Those who prefer more understated, traditional schemes should think about using bright reds with rich browns for a compelling, indulgent, sophisticated moment,” says Sloan. A scarlet “runner” painted on a staircase and landing sets this cozy chocolate brown walk-through space on fire.


For beginners, start with small accents.

“Dip your tone in red by adding flashes throughout a room. This color is so impactful that a little goes a long way, making it the perfect choice for painting lampshades, picture frames and adding line work to furniture,” says Sloan. “We are familiar with how effective a crimson lip and crimson manicure is with a monochrome outfit; it’s the same principle in your home. When using red, try to avoid too many other colors, or the end result will be overstimulating, chaotic, and even headache-inducing,” says the designer, who livened up a moody main living area with smaller pieces of saturated red accents. .

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