November 28, 2016

5 Reasons to Paint Your Dining Room Red

Green and white china on red and white tablecloth with floral and fruit centerpiece.
Thanksgiving table 2016

Would you, could you, should you paint your dining room red?  I took the plunge over 25 years ago when I saw a dining room with painted red walls in an issue of TRADITIONAL HOME magazine, and some other red and luscious decor ideas at Martha ... where red was used both as accent and backdrop in home decor.  I chose a RALPH LAUREN red in eggshell (for other luscious RL colors go here, to the THOROUGHBRED COLLECTION) and then had a coat of glaze applied that resulted in a patina both rich and leathery looking. Oh, and appropriate to my English Tudor home. My mahogany woodwork contributes to the aura I think, and I have never regretted the admittedly bold choice...and have never been tempted to change it (unlike other areas of my home.)

Vignettes of Thanksgiving 2016:  Dior 'Malachite' green and white china and the deep red hues of pears, dahlias and pomegranates.
When I posited this same question on Facebook, a realtor said "No, it is outdated." To which I responded that I didn't think a 1935 traditional English Tudor home with rather traditional English decor (isn't that the point of the wo)rd 'traditional'?)  I still feel it is timeless, if not au courant. (Visit my red Pinterest board here).

Ralph Lauren red walls with red trim frame the view into the living room where touches of red are repeated.

But her point is well taken. Those younger than I (and members of the HGTV generation), would probably prefer fuchsia or turquoise over red, or perhaps a taupe/all white decor with loud pops of color. A whole different dynamic that could also be and style being in the eye of the beholder and a subjective thing after all. But since I am not planning on selling my home to a millennial any time soon.... I am the beholder of my beautiful red leathery walls and continue to love them.

Fluffy red dahlias with greens and berries from the garden accompany gilded gourds, pinecones and corn.


1. It is very flattering to one's complexion, particularly when accompanied by candlelight and the relaxing aura of gentle music. Your guests (and yourself, of course) will look quite attractive as the light it casts is soft and forgiving....a visage-enhancing pink flush. And who doesn't enjoy themselves more when they feel they look their best?

Just having my sons home for Thanksgiving is enough to make me blush with happiness, with or without red walls.

2. It is particularly appropriate during the fall and winter months when I do most of my indoor entertaining.  Its rich intensity lends itself to earthy Thanksgiving tablescapes (like this year's in pomegranate red and malachite green), cheery Christmas brunches and romantic Valentine dinners. Throw in numerous birthday dinners and a cocktail party or two during these same colder months...well the red walls continue to deliver for me....and my guests. 

This year, a Friendsgiving....with dear friends who have been spending this day of thanks with us for many, many years.

Most, if not all of my entertaining and celebrations in the spring, summer and early fall are centered around the garden, where lighter, less rich and intense colors are more seasonally appropriate. By then I am happy to leave the dining room's dark personality behind and embrace the brighter light and mood of the great outdoors.

A glossy red armoire gives me the tone on tone sensibility, and extra storage, I crave.

3.  I love tone on tone.....on both light monochromatic hues and deep rich jewel tones. Consequently, I painted a pine armoire in the exact same deep red hue with a top coat of Briwax to add depth and shine (Be warned, I will Briwax anything that doesn't move.) I also added red linen  shades on the the sideboard black lamps. In my mind, if a little bit is good, more can sometimes be delicious.

The intense color red vibrates from the centerpiece as well.

 4. Luscious reds are frequently a part of my centerpieces, this year in the gorgeous red of Bosc pears and pomegranates, fluffy dahlias, and ruby berries. Anything that glistens and flickers....crystal, silver, candlelight.....spray-painted gold pinecones and pumpkins :)...

Gilded gourds and lush red flowers and fruit = luscious

look even more beautiful with red as a canvas to play against.

Candlelight and red walls enhance one another's magical qualities.

As I love contrast as well as tone on tone, I have white slipcovered furniture in the living room that pop against the red. Of course, touches of red, for continuity are repeated in there as well.

White slipcovered furniture pleasingly contrast against the deep red walls.

5. And finally, it feeds my need for color echoes everywhere I look. The same rich red is found in the oil painting over the sideboard, in the many table linens I have inherited and amassed over the years,

Nandina berries and arborvitae greens from the garden ground the Thanksgiving flower arrangement.

and in the small touches of my everyday garden life that find their way to the table or a vase.
Red walls are certainly not for everyone. They may not even be for me...

in a different place, a different home, a different time. 

The huge red blooms of 'Red Lion' amaryllis match the intensity of the walls in a heavenly way.

But for now, I find them scrumptious.

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  1. Say yes to the red! I have a great room and the kitchen walls are painted a merlot color. The rest of the room has a very light yellow paint. You have to see it. I find that red goes with most every other color.

  2. It has been so fun to get feedback on red as a paint color in our home. Folks seem to love it or hate it....quite passionately about a passionate color. Outdated? Even home decor 'expert' websites don't agree! My motto, go with what you love.

  3. I love your red dining room! It's so cozy and warm which is just perfect for dinner parties. I think classic historic homes need classic decor, colors and furnishings. I've always found it odd to see historic homes decorated like new model homes. Beige on taupe..something is lost in the charm. I am a believer in surrounding yourself with what you love. Enjoy the holiday season!

    1. I couldn't have put it better myself! I so agree with you :)

  4. We moved, six years ago, from our 1923 Tudor house up in the Hudson Valley. And red was very, very appropriate there! Our front hall, and then our study, were "Blazer" from Farrow & Ball. Secret: no, I didn't pay for their actual paint, I matched the color with BM!!! Anyway, it was lovely lovely. And the lavatory was a dark, rich , gloss green. All white woodwork everywhere. But then, here in NC in our 1990 "new" house dark red just would not be appropriate. So, yes, maybe it's dated to some but it has to be right for the house. Love love yours and I say don't ever change it!!!

  5. Libby, I agree. I think it follows that Alexander Pope adage to 'consult the genius of the place'. Thanks for the input and Happy Holidays!

  6. Linda, I say yes to the red walls! I adore them in your gorgeous dining room! My favorite designer, Charles Faudree, used red a lot. I adore it in decorating, but I am a color girl. I say you must go with what you love, and I don't think the classics ever go out of style...they are timeless! I am a fellow Oklahoman and just found your beautiful blog because of you following me on Instagram. I am new to blogging and just started this Summer. I hope that you are enjoying your week and that you have a very Merry Christmas!!!


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