Over the course of the past 100+ years in American culture, red has symbolized and been associated with many things: the Hollywood red carpet, fast cars and love & romance. Pretty ironic how so many of these elements indicate “go, go, go” and then you have the big STOP sign (and light) that throws the brakes on the party. Point being though–RED is a color that gets your attention.
Red is a deeply American color. It’s one of the three colors in our nation’s flag. It’s prolific in the logos and advertising of US-founded companies including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pinterest, Netflix and more. And don’t forget America’s almighty condiment, Ketchup. As one of the primary colors, its importance and influence within the color wheel can’t be understated.
In honor of Benjamin Moore’s 2018 Color of the Year, “Caliente”, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular, iconic associations of the color red.
- Front Door – Warm Welcome
Historically, this has been done for centuries, with a continuing prevalence today. Loads of theories abound as to the “why”, including Chinese belief in the positivity of red, the Scottish denoting a mortgage paid off, and usage as a universal sign of safe passage, whether it be home, hotel or holy church.
Whatever the reason, there’s nothing warmer or more inviting than a painted red front door.
- Rugs – Roll Out the Red Carpet
Oriental rugs, the infamous “red carpet” of Hollywood, etc. If you were asked to choose the most popular “rug color”, this would be the one. That’s because red is representational of royalty (i.e. “bloodlines”). Additionally, this shade’s inherent qualities, from a visual standpoint, are perceived as lending warmth and dignity to cold, untamed surfaces. It’s also one of the more readily available dyes used for handmade production.
- Seating – Make Yourself Comfortable
Red is at its roots an energetic, yet warm color. Think flame or fire. In the case of a bolder red, it has the additional benefit of making a space feel cozy thanks to the effects produced by darker colors–drawing the eyes to focus on contrasting edges (example: red walls against white trim), and creating a framed-in feeling. This as opposed to the diffusing effects of lighter colors within softer, monochromatic spaces.
Hot Tips: Red leather is always sexy and attention-getting. Bold reds are very complimentary when paired with other basic or primary colored components, including white, black, blue, yellow and green. You’ll end up with a space that’s both modern and fun!
4. Library – Rich Volumes
Yes, we’re in the era of “the internet of things”, when visiting the library isn’t exactly on the weekly list of errands. That being said, whose inner intellect isn’t charmed when thoughts and memories are evoked pertaining to Old-World (or old school) thick, rich, red leather-bound volumes? Without even cracking open these tomes, feelings of knowledge and wealth wash over us.
5. Barns – Big Red
“Why are barns painted red?”, asks everyone in the room (that includes us!). According to LiveScience.com:
“Barns weren’t originally red; in fact, they weren’t painted at all. The early farmers that settled in New England didn’t have much extra money to spend on paint , so most of their barns remained unpainted. By the late 1700s, farmers looking to shield their barns’ wood from the elements began experimenting with ways to make their own protective paint.
A recipe consisting of skimmed milk, lime and red iron oxide created a rusty-colored mixture that became popular among farmers because it was cheap to make and lasted for years. Farmers were able to easily obtain iron oxide the compound that lends natural red clay its coppery color from soil. Linseed oil derived from flax plants was also used to seal bare wood against rotting, and it stained the wood a dark coral hue.
Farmers also noticed that painting their barns with the homemade paint kept the buildings warmer during the wintertime, since the darker color absorbs the suns rays more than plain, tan wood. So red paint spread in popularity due to its functionality and convenience, becoming an American tradition that continues to this day.”
That sums up the 5 most popular uses of the color ‘red’. Anything you associate with ‘red’ that we left off the list? Feel free to add your comments below. And for more ideas and inspiration based on Benjamin Moore’s 2018 Color of the Year, ‘Caliente’ (and red in general), be sure to check out our brand new Pinterest board here.