Decorating with Red: Not Just for the Holidays

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It’s a little cold out to be thinking about hot fudge sundaes, but I want you to picture one in your mind right now. The ingredients themselves are tasty but not particularly pretty: goopy brown fudge sauce, beige chopped peanuts, and ice cream that’s so… well, vanilla. But one little addition — that maraschino cherry perched on the whipped cream — makes it appetizing, and turns it into an iconic dessert.

In dessert or a den, a bold dash of red can be the cherry on top of an otherwise understated design. A beautiful red object placed artfully tells the eye where to go, and can help define different areas of the room. Here are some ways I’m using red these days:

Red Chinese Laquer Table for sale on 1st dibs. $2720. Click to shop.

Red lacquer tables.

These can be strikingly modern, or part of the broader Chinoiserie trend that never seems to get old. Placed against a wall, they invite people to stand in front of them to consider objects placed on top or nearby artwork. Using a red table instead of a brown one lets you make a statement instead of just cluttering up a room.

Haruki Sisal Wallpaper in shade Garnet from Schumacher. Click to shop.

Red wallpaper.

If you don’t have room for a red table against a wall, make the wall itself red. A wallpaper like this garnet beauty from Schumacher livens up any vertical surface, and is a wonderful contrast behind a gallery wall or botanical prints — especially if you can pick up some red in the flowers. At night, red walls become warm and welcoming, especially if elegantly accented with gold.

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Set of 10 Antique Red Leather Books. $900. Click to shop.

Red leather books.

You all know my love of striking white vellum books, but I love working in a few red spines. They help break up a wall of brown rectangles, so that a bookshelf looks more three dimensional. (It also makes me wonder what racy stories are collected into red books!)

Vintage English Red Leather Chesterfield Couch. $4930. Click to shop.

Red leather furniture.

There aren’t many wrong places to put some red upholstery. Placing a sofa or set of chairs in a seating arrangement makes it warm and welcoming, and tucking something plush and colorful will brighten a corner, turning it from a neglected nook into an inviting area to sit and read. Red goes with almost everything, and switching out your old camel couch for a new (antique) red sofa will make it seem like the whole room has been redone.

Christopher Spitzmiller Ming Red Lamp. $1900. Click to shop.

Red antique lamp.

If you really want to brighten up a room, hit it with both barrels. Choose a lamp that’s illuminating even when it’s off, like this gorgeous Christopher Spitzmiller Ming in red and 23K gold.

Read "21 Pomegranate Fall Decorations To Infuse Your Décor With Color." Click to read.

Red pomegranates.

A boring old fruit bowl? Not if you fill it with pomegranates, which I just love to keep around during the holidays. The delicious, translucent seeds also dress up any salad you want to throw together.

PAT MCGRATH LABS MatteTrance™ Lipstick in shade Elson 2. $38. Click to Shop.

Red Lipstick.

With the right dress — or even the right pair of jeans — a bright ruby lipstick is the cherry on top of any outfit.

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  • Well Mary I think I picked up a few things from you… a looong time ago… have red pleated shades on many lamps ( Lumen) of course!….have a red library at my lake house .. and an old wooden bowl filled with pomegranates on my island!! You taught me well!!!🤗 Merry merry Christmas to you and MiKe!!❤️