Kitchens With COLOR: Red

While I have already taught you how to add a red *kapow!* to your kitchen before, this post will focus entirely on using red tile.

Red is a tricky color to get right, I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you folks. I was only able to find a handful of photos that I felt comfortable sharing with you to demonstrate how it can be used properly (and improperly).

But, with a few basic design rules in mind, it can be used to great effect.

Basic Design rule #1: The larger the room, the less bright the shade of red should be. Now, rules are made to be broken, but if you’re unsure of how to proceed, this is a pretty good failsafe.

Basic Design rule #2: Red is generally used best when acting alone. If you want to use it with another color, keep it an analogous color. I.e. orange or pink. For a kitchen, stick to orange.

Basic Design rule #3: The warmer the other features in the room, the warmer the shade of red used should be. I will demonstrate this below.

Now, let’s get started.

Traditional Kitchen

traditional kitchen

This is a classic traditional kitchen: shaker cabinets, pretty millwork, neutral color scheme with a splash of red in an extremely traditional format: ceramic 4×4. The red is echoed through the bar stools, and complemented with a display of peppers. Note that if you were to remove these tiny design elements, the kitchen wouldn’t have the same effect. This is a great example of how a very small design element can go a long way.

Contemporary Kitchen

contemporary kitchen

Note how the warm cabinets and wood tones ground the red and keep it from appearing too ostentatious. Because the red has more cranberry tones to it, it coordinates beautifully with the rich wood around it, giving a very welcoming vibe. This looks like the kind of kitchen to make Thanksgiving dinner in, you know what I mean?

Another option: red ceramic tile that emulates brick. This is a great way to incorporate red without having to worry about coordination and balance. Brick works with just about everything! It can transition from traditional to modern with a slight change in cabinetry. The above photo is somewhere in the middle.

Modern Kitchen

modern kitchen

Of course, glass. It is the current trend, so of course it would be used in the example of a modern kitchen. Because everything else in this room is monochromatic, it doesn’t matter that this fire engine red is carried so high above the cabinets. It’s the only color in the space. If you are considering taking the modern approach, just keep in mind that when you have a high-gloss bright color like this, it really needs a very neutral palette to play against.

Other fun red kitchens!

Masculine Kitchen

masculine kitchen

As in my previous kitchens with color posts, this red kitchen has all the same elements as the rest: wood, darker tones, minimalist sensibilities. This textured tile works well in this space because all of the other elements in the room are kept very simple and clean.

Feminine Kitchen

feminine kitchen

The antithesis of a masculine kitchen: light, smoother lines, greater attention to detail. Even the hoodfan over the stove gives a distinctly feminine impression. Why? Because curves=female, straight lines=male.

The backsplash chosen is extremely busy, but as in the blue example, it is used in a very concentrated space against a relatively neutral backdrop, making it pop without being aggressive.

Also note that the red mixed with orange here flows nicely because, like I mentioned in the very beginning, they are analogous colors and naturally complementary.

Rustic Charm

rustic kitchen

This kitchen likely came out of a farmhouse, don’t you think? Red is kept quite minimal, which is a good choice given the pattern in the countertop. Decorative inserts above the stove add a focal point and tie in with the copper of the hoodfan. Simple, warm, natural. It works.

Red Gone Wrong

red kitchen gone wrong

In all truth, there were too many pictures to choose from for this category. But they all had one common thread: an overwhelming sense of “too much”! The problem with the above photo is that while the backsplash and cabinets coordinate fine, the black in the microwave, stove, and coffee maker are way too much contrast, and the counter is complementing nothing. A neutral backsplash in this room would have brought all of these disjointed elements together, but a bright multi-colored backsplash just makes it painfully clear how mismatched they are.

Red is absolutely one of the hardest colors to work with in a primary living space. But when it’s done right, it’s exceptional. Don’t be afraid to give it a whirl; the results are well worth it!

And if you’d like help tracking down the tile in any of the above photos, shoot me an email at and I’ll be happy to help!


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