A red, black and gray color scheme offers only one vibrant hue, but that doesn’t mean the other two can’t be dramatic in their own right. Red and black both make bold statements however you use them, and gray is a versatile neutral that can suit any circumstance. Design your living room to balance drama with sophistication.
Choose a Dominant Color
Before you choose colors for your walls and curtains, look at the floor and the natural light in the room. Decide whether the room is generally dark or generally bright. According to decorator Mario Buatta, writing for Elle Decor, you should use light colors in bright rooms and deep colors in dark rooms. For the walls of a sunny living room, consider an iridescent light-to-medium gray or a semigloss salsa red; for the walls of a dim living room, consider matte slate gray or dusty deep rose.
Balance the Palette
Fill out the color scheme with shades that complement your dominant color, then add pops of contrasting colors as accents. If you have slate gray walls, try black-and-Tuscan-red curtains, and accent with throw pillows in satiny ruby red. If you have bright, salsa-red walls, try painting one wall high-gloss black as an accent and putting down a quiet gray area rug to stop the space from being visually overwhelming. Decorating with red and black carries the risk of being too dark or too vibrant, so use shades of gray to lighten the space or tone it down as necessary.
The woods and metals in the room contribute to the color scheme as well. Silver corresponds to gray, so silver or chrome light fixtures, doorknobs and even furniture are all in keeping with the design. Depending on your overall design, consider lacquered-black wooden furniture for a sleek, intense touch or mahogany items for a sophisticated, classic look. You can even paint wooden furniture a pale gray for a spot of shabby-chic brightness. Use the color of the furniture to rebalance the colors. For example, if the room feels heavily black, shimmery gray furniture can help correct it.
Dress the Room
Because red and black are such strong colors, you might not need many accessories or decorations to dress the room. Use the colors you’re already working with in your choice of accessories. If you’ve chosen gray walls and black furniture, accessorize in various shades of red. If you’ve chosen red walls, tone them down by hanging a large gray photograph in a black frame on a focal wall. Other accessories that might suit your space include black glass vases, a modern chrome chandelier, a painting of a red rose or a gallery-style display of black-and-white photos.
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