By Kellie B. Gormly
Saturday, September 20, 2003
Red always has been a passionate, vibrant color to wear.
But it is becoming an increasingly popular shade in
Classic and safe neutrals look bland to those who have
caught scarlet fever. They are bringing red home as
sofas and chairs, toasters and coffee-makers, lampshades,
bedsheets and entire walls.
Red is a significant color in the fall Pottery Barn
catalog, Better Homes and Gardens' 100 Weekend Decorating
Ideas and the October issue of House Beautiful, where
shoppers and readers can explore its influence.
"A red sofa is striking and a little daring, too,"
says Neill C. Stouffer, director of design for Today's
Home, a Pittsburgh-area furniture retailer with stores
in Green Tree, Ross and Monroeville. "I think red
is warm, exciting and romantic. ... It's just a feel-good
color to me. It's really stunning. It really sets a
Yet, trendy as the crimson tide may seem, red is nothing
new to interior design. It has been "in,"
at least to some degree, since the Victorian age. The
color red is like the classic little black cocktail
dress or classic-fit jeans: It never goes out of fashion,
but during some seasons it is hotter.
"Red is both traditional and contemporary,"
Stouffer says. "I think people always come back
to red. You can absolutely live with red forever."
There are varying theories on why so many of us have
scarlet fever. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director
of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J., says
that red came back into vogue after 9/11, when Americans
showed their patriotism with red, white and blue.
"It was a patriotic symbol at first," she
says. "But as time goes on and people are getting
over the mourning process, red is the one color that
still speaks to us.
"It's the color of optimism," she says. "We
are going to go on, and we have to go on. We need the
excitement and the adrenaline rush red can give us."
Barbara Richardson, director of marketing for Glidden
Paint, Cleveland, agrees, but she believes another major
influence is the multicultural aspect. One of the strongest
examples is coming from the saturated color used in
Cuba and other Latin countries.
"One of things we are seeing is that red suggests
power, and it can influence our moods," she says.
Carolyn Thornton of Carolyn Thornton Interior Design
in Pittsburgh, attributes some of the recent red-surrection
to shows on HGTV, which promote color in interior design
and encourage people to take a chance on it.
"People are watching those shows and seeing that
it's not so scary," says Thornton, explaining the
warm, cheering effect that red has on people. "Now
you can hardly look through any shelter magazine and
not find a room with red in it."