Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Red


A Pair of George II Walnut Side Chairs upholstered in red silk damask 
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We are starting a new series on the blog focusing on colour.  We will put the neutral hues aside in favour of the bright and the bold with an exploration of colour’s role in historic decoration and how it works in a contemporary interior.

There is no better place to start than with red.  Red is an intense, vibrant colour that is associated with energy, power, and passion.  It is also one of the oldest colours ever used in art, dating back to the incorporation of red ochre prehistoric cave paintings from ca. 5000-2000 BCE.

Covent Garden Theatre

Thomas Rowlandson’s Covent Garden Theatre, circa 1792 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

The colour became popular during the Georgian era, and not just in domestic interiors.  Traditionally, theatres used blue curtains for the stage, but they shifted to red curtains as newer lighting showed actors off best agains the red hues.  Today, theatres are still associated with the rich red tones for curtains, seating, and decor.

Tapestry Room

The Tapestry Room from Croome Court by Robert Adam 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

Robert Adam can be attributed with the revival of the widespread use of red in Georgian interiors inspired by ‘Etruscan’ or ‘Pompeiian’ red seen on ancient pottery.  One of the most famous rooms done in red is Adam’s Red Drawing Room at Syon House.  The walls are hung with crimson Spitalfield silk cloth and the room features furniture designed by Adam that evokes ancient Rome.  Adam’s Tapestry Rooms at both Osterley Park, Middlesex and Croome Court, Worcestershire, feature French Gobelin tapestries with rich red tones as a backdrop for elegant floral swags and central roundels designed by Francois Boucher.

Red Interior

Interior Design with red walls by an Anonymous British artist, late 19th century 
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection

We have put together a Pinterest board with some of our favourite Georgian interiors with a red colour scheme along with pieces from our collection featuring red hues.


3 thoughts on “Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Red

  1. Pingback: Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Green | The Source

  2. Pingback: Across the Colour Spectrum: Decorating in Blue | The Source

  3. Pingback: Happy Birthday to… Us! One Year of Blogging | The Source

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