top of page

Unexpected Interior Design Trend: Might Not Be a Trend at All

An interior design trend has sparked conversations globally, to the point where specialists are pondering its philosophical essence—is it truly a trend, or something more profound?

A domestic cat lying on a bed in a room over red flooring designed by Nic Howett Architect. The room is part of a residential project in London called The Secret Garden Flat.
Nic Howett

Born out of a viral TikTok video, boasting nearly a million views, the "unexpected red theory" is poised to disrupt the ubiquitous all-white interior aesthetic, injecting rooms with personality and warmth. We're here to delve into this intriguing concept and uncover everything there is to know about it.

What is the unexpected red theory?

Coined on January 16th by Brooklyn-based interior designer Taylor Migliazzo Simon, this interior design trend challenges the status quo by advocating for the addition of anything red, regardless of size, to a room where it ostensibly doesn't belong, asserting that it will magically enhance the space. This "anything" can manifest in architectural features such as balustrades or flooring, or as statement furniture.

A photo of a bathroom exploring the unexpected red theory designed by Ciarán McGuigan, creative director at Orior. The bathroom has a double sink vanity and toilet.
Nicole Franzen

Is it as simple as throwing a red pillow on a sofa?

While the theory appears straightforward, it has incited myriad interpretations. Some of them just radically assume that throwing anything red into a room is the only thing that takes in interior designing. Interior designer Samantha Stathis Lynch adds further complexity, stating, "When used correctly, red can be sophisticated and playful, but don't expect to throw a red pillow on a sofa and voilà, your room is suddenly perfect."

This image features a living room designed by Nimtim Architects. The room has a red dining table and chairs set against a backdrop of exposed brick walls. A mosaic artwork is also visible.
Nimtim Architects

Sheri Peterson, president of the North American chapter of the International Association of Color Consultants (IACC), suggests a more nuanced approach: “It comes down to hue, value, and chroma (...) the correct hue, value, and chroma of red were used with the other colors on the color wheel. Colors that are complementary, analogous, etc., are most pleasing to the eye when they are of similar value and chroma.”

A luxurious living room exploring interior design trend featuring a bold red armchair and coffee table. The couch is a deep purple and there are red curtains behind it.
Lambert Macguire
A brightly colored kitchen featuring red table and green cabinets. The red table is the most prominent feature in the image.
Point Supreme.

Why red?

The red enthusiasts might be thrilled with this news, but if you have a different favorite color, may wonder why red specifically.

The theory posits that red is as versatile as a neutral color, capable of harmonizing with various palettes and materials as an accent or complementary tone. Additionally, there's the psychology and physiology of color to consider. Massimo Caiazzo, vice president of the Italian chapter of the IACC, advises caution, noting that red can stimulate physiological responses such as increased heart rate and blood pressure, due to the heightened energy required from our bodies to look at something red than it does other colors.

A modern living room featuring a white couch, armchair, and coffee table with a red painting as the focal point. The red in the painting creates a bold accent against the neutral tones of the furniture.
Tim Lenz

Is it so unexpected?

Kishani Perera feels that adding a red accent is one of the oldest tricks in the book: “It’s quite funny to call it a ‘theory’ because it’s something that has been used in good design for ages. A pop of red is classic and timeless in my opinion!”

Migliazzo Simon agrees, she told in an interview. “Red is an iconic and timeless color, and adding a ‘pop of red’ is nothing new, so I hope the unexpected red theory is seen as more of a rule of thumb rather than a passing trend.”

A bathroom interior featuring a red bathtub as a bold accent against a backdrop of neutral colored walls and fireplace. The bathtub is made of wood and has a white top.
Dorothée Meilichzon

Do It Yourself!

The unexpected red theory challenges conventional design wisdom, inviting enthusiasts to embrace the vibrancy and versatility of red in their living spaces. This seemingly simple yet profound interior design trend encourages the intentional and playful incorporation of red into everyday items, such as picture frames, light fixtures, or lampshades—items typically associated with neutral colors.

So why not embark on your own design journey and introduce a splash of red into your home today?

Red upholstered armchair from Móveis Marantes in a cool living room setting. Gold-plated carved wood details on the arms of the chairs.

Discover how the Wavy Golden Armchair can add a touch of unexpected red to your space. Experience a fusion of vintage charm and modern sophistication, designed to elevate any space with its striking red and gold accents.

35 views0 comments


bottom of page