Psychologists say red kitchens make food tastier – but could it devalue your home?

Looking for a new way to elevate your cooking? This expert-approved tone may be the secret you crave

deep red kitchen with white table and chairs, stone floor and cream tongue and groove panelling
(Image credit: Paul Massey)

If you want to make this weekend's dinner party menu tastier, the secret may not be the level of seasoning in your dishes. 

Instead, paint experts and psychologists have revealed that the color red is the only secret ingredient you may need to take your culinary skills to another level. Yes, red kitchen ideas – or dining room ideas – could be key to a successful menu. 

‘Color is the most effective key to unlocking associations, memories, and mood,’ says Dulux’s Creative Director & Color Expert, Marianne Shillingford, explaining that color really can be used to intensify food flavors and make conversations more engaging – and that the most powerful of these is red. 

Red painted kitchen

(Image credit: Paul Zammit)

‘Red is the most stimulating color in any palette. It can help to make meals taste better in the kitchen, plus conversations become more interesting and lively in a rich, rose-tinted environment,’ she says.

This room color idea is loved by color experts, but is it backed by science? Psychologist Lee Chambers explains what you need to know. 

Why painting your kitchen red will make your food tastier – according to psychology 

Red painted kitchen

(Image credit: Paul Zammit)

'Being in environments enveloped in red can have a psychological impact on us, but there are also physiological changes that we notice when people spend time surrounded by red interiors,' Lee says. 

The psychologist refers to studies that investigate the red's ability to increase our heart rate and blood flow whilst elevating our body temperature and stimulating our adrenal gland.

'One aspect that is less known is that it can stimulate our sense of taste and smell, making us more sensitive to these in the food we prepare and consume,' Lee explains. 'Whether this makes our food taste better is quite subjective, but it certainly has the ability to heighten those senses and make tastes and smells more pronounced.'

Red painted kitchen

(Image credit: Paul Zammit)

And Lee is not exclusive in his observation of red and its relationship with food. Psychologist and Nutritionist Dr. Naomi Beinart observes that red is a popular choice for restaurants that restauranteurs may be using the color as a clever way to increase our appetites.   

'Some people believe that the color can even increase appetite, which is one reason why so many restaurants use red on their signs and inside their restaurants. But the jury is out on whether or not this is a scientific fact,' she says.

So, should you embrace red in your kitchen or dining room? 'Red, and particularly deep red, is a traditional, accepted color for dining rooms, especially those that are used in the evenings when low-level lighting can create an incredibly inviting atmosphere' says Lucy Searle, Editor in Chief of Homes & Gardens

'However, the jury is out on red kitchens. Though they can be beautiful, they are very divisive. My advice would be to have a red kitchen if you are in your forever home and really love the shade; otherwise, I would consider more neutral cabinetry and keep red to accessories or walls. And if you are planning on selling any time soon, go more neutral still – home buyers place a lot of importance on the kitchen and can be put off by a very bold scheme, meaning fewer or potentially lower offers.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.