How to Correctly Use Red as an Accent Wall

Red is a primary color on the color wheel. It is known to increase blood pressure, appetite, and is associated with romance. It seems that in interior design, red walls are hit or miss. Here are some examples when red walls work, and when they don’t, so you will feel confident before painting your walls red. If you need further assistance, we offer Color Consultations and can help you choose the correct paint colors and placement for any room.

Please note, if you are planning on listing your home for sale we would suggest staying away from painting walls red and stick to neutral colors instead. Red is a very strong color and when selling you want to minimize any potential negative reactions from buyers.

Red is a color than demands attention. Our eye is drawn to red, which is why it is the color of stop signs. This makes it an excellent accent wall choice if you choose the wall correctly.

Red is a warm hue and therefore makes walls advance. In a narrow room, paint the red wall on the furthest most wall. Placing it on any other wall will make the room feel even narrower and very unpleasant.


Correct Placement


Incorrect Placement


Photo credit: Home Style

Since red is such an intense color your eyes needs a visual rest. It looks best when broken up by art, curtains, mirrors and/or windows. Otherwise, large expanses of red tend to feel overpowering.


This room is able to take the strong red walls because the large windows break up the red and the light carpet and neutral furniture help calm the room down.

Photo Credit: House Beautiful


This room feels too dark and heavy because there is no visual rest from the red. By adding a large piece of art or mirror over the buffet, a table runner in a light colored fabric, and a centerpiece with white flowers, this room would look bright and fresh without having to re-paint or change the furniture.

Photo credit: KT Louise

Since your eye is drawn to red, make sure it is on a wall you want to draw attention to and is your focal point of the room.


Using red on the fireplace wall is always a great choice since fireplaces should be the focal point.

Photo credit: Barclay Butera


This fireplace is a great feature of the room but the large red adjacent wall is competing for attention.

Photo credit: Founterior

Many people mistakenly pair red accent walls with tan on the rest of the walls, which is an outdated look. Now it is best to pair red accent walls with pale blues, greys, or bright white.


This red accent wall pops with the white walls and gray bannister. Repeating the red color in the chair ties the space together.

Photo credit: Amanda Kyser


This red and tan living room is in need of a redesign.

Photo credit: LIFamilies

Lastly, think about how the red will look with the wood tones of your moldings and furniture. Honey, mahogany, and cherry wood tones get lost on a red wall and look outdated. It is best to use red if you have white furniture and moldings, or medium to dark brown and espresso wood tones.


The white wainscoting and moldings are fresh and updated and make the red walls work.

Photo credit: Home and Design


In general the honey colored floor, moldings and doors are outdated, but this red color on the walls draws attention to this fact.

Photo credit: The Borrowed Adobe

Feel you have the correct red (or any other) paint color choice? Download our Color Testing Guide to make sure it is the right choice before you put time and money into painting the walls.