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Red adds power, drama

DEAR DEBBIE: I love red and notice that I have lots of red in my wardrobe: my favorite shoes, three blouses and even a little red (not black) dress. I’d like to use red in my home, but I fear it may be too much. The main floor is open concept, so you would see the red from every direction. Have you any red rules? Thanks for all your help. I love your columns. — Charlotte.

DEAR CHARLOTTE: Red is a wonderful color with great strength and mood. At this time of year, red appears as the color of the moment. Christmas red is a festive, happy color that makes the perfect accent for gift bows and garlands, sweaters and shoes, candies and fruit. There’s something about a touch of red that gives a lift to our surroundings and brightens and heightens our mood.

However, your favorite color is not just for the holidays, red will enhance your home décor all year round. If you’ve never played with red, here are some helpful tips to help you take the plunge.

Red must be used with respect, as all its shades demand full attention. Their vivid hues draw us to them, which is energizing, but also tiring if not balanced. When yellow is added to red you get shades of orange to the deepest terra-cotta. Mix in white for milky colors and pink. When blue is added, the fire of red cools down into tones of purple and lilac.

The trendiest shades of red are saturated tones of burgundy, rose petal, lipstick and mauve. Try one on a focal dining-room wall balanced with dark-brown or gray furnishings, and I promise you that the table chat will be fabulous. Also, the color bouncing off the wall gives everyone a flattering warm blush.

Note the effect that light has on any color, and particularly red. Red can be harsh in bright daylight, but the same red can have the most incredible romantic warmth in candlelight. Think about when you use the room most, and let that guide you.

For a modern and fresh look, try rich tomato red trimmed with white painted woodwork. Create a luxurious, sexy feel with deep claret, adding touches of metallic in fabrics and trim.

Always keep red the dominant color. It’s best not to mix red with other bright contrasting colors such as a vivid green. Choose a milky olive green or palest moss instead. Black and dark gray will balance red and let it shine.

Experiment with one wall or add one or two key elements such as a lipstick-red lamp or a coral-red carpet. I guarantee you’ll love it as much as your shoes, maybe more.

DEAR DEBBIE: I would like to know if I can paint on top of my arborite cube end tables. The arborite is textured and a dusty-rose color, which I’d like to paint a beige/taupe. Thanks. — Terri.

DEAR TERRI: Even though it has a texture, the finish on surfaces such as arborite are made to repel liquids, and this durability must be considered when you decide to paint.

In order for the paint to adhere properly, you must first rough up the surface, breaking up the seal. Sand until the surface is dull, then apply a high-adhesion primer that is designed for the job. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours. Now you can paint in any shade with water-based paint.

Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at house2home@debbietravis.com.

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