What are the Pros and Cons of a Red Living Room?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Red is never the color of a shrinking violet; to incorporate it into any design requires a certain boldness and desire to make an impression. A red living room can serve as a centerpiece for many design aesthetics, but can have some drawbacks as well. Before choosing to splash passionate crimson about the walls with abandon, carefully consider the pros and cons of a red living room.

Red is symbolic of warmth, passion, and boldness.
Red is symbolic of warmth, passion, and boldness.

A fiery color, red is symbolic of warmth, passion, and boldness. It can be a wonderful way to make a large, airy room appear warmer and more vivid. In cold climates, a red living room can be both inviting and intriguing.

Some design styles lend themselves to choosing a red living room. Modernism often relies on bold color contrasts in clear tones, such as red, white, and black. White or black geometric shapes will stand out fantastically against a red background, turning a living room into a walk-through work of art.

In some Asian traditions, red symbolizes masculinity, good luck, and power, and is often associated with Chinese design. Choosing ebony or lacquered Asian furniture and accenting the design with screens, silk furnishings, and Chinese art can make red walls a perfect choice. While still a bold color, using red as a main color in a Chinese-inspired room can allow slightly more subtle tonal choices. Crimson and muted reds may be just as effective as a bold, fire-engine color.

There are some drawbacks to a red living room that should be contemplated before embarking on a design. In a warm climate, a red room may feel or look uncomfortably hot. What looks fantastic in January may be stifling in July, so consider limiting the use of red to easily changeable elements if hot weather is a feature of the local climate.

Red paint is notoriously difficult to cover up or eliminate if walls are repainted. The bold color shows flaws far more easily than neutral wall tones, and may require frequent retouching. Red paint may be a bad idea if living in a rental unit that requires repainting when vacating the unit; it may take several coats and professional painting skills to fully cover a bold hue.

While red can enhance a feeling of warmth and creation, it may be detrimental to those seeking peace and serenity. The effect of a red living room is stimulating, and may not contribute to a feeling of relaxation or unwinding. If a person wants his or her living room to be a calming retreat, red is probably not the best choice for a main color.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


I had to paint a house that had red living room walls. It took almost 4 coats of paint to fully cover up the color.


My husband and I bought a house that had a red living room. When we moved in we were really broke and we did not have any money to do renovations, even to paint the living room.

So we lived with it being red for almost two years. It was horrible. I felt like I was living in a haunted house. Luckily we finally saved some money and painted it a nice butter color.


I think the pros and the cons of a red living room are the same. Red is a striking color and it tends to dominate any space. If you are looking to make a statement red might be the perfect color. If you want a more muted environment, red is probably the worst color after black.

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