The Uplift is a monthly series in which our Style Editor Nikhita Mahtani uncovers the best small decor to bring joy to your home. She consults our experts and picks through thousands of pieces from the biggest designers and retailers to bring you the very best.
Move over, beige: there's a new trend in town. Red has been popping up all over the decor world thanks to the concept of 'unexpected red'; Taylor Simon's theory that a single well-placed red object can transform an otherwise boring room. It's a simple but effective style tip that can instantly uplift a room, effortless improving your home without any big renovations.
To help you bring unexpected red to your home, I've asked our dedicated interiors team for their top picks of unexpected red decor in the season so far. There's also some picks from our product testing and gardens team, for some more inventive ways of incorporating red into to your decor for joyful, colorful spaces.
After looking at countless options from pretty much every decor store imaginable, I've narrowed it down to a handful of our favorite red accessories, with vases, throws, pillows, curtains, and even kitchenware we’ve been loving this season.
Best unexpected red decor 2024
A straightforward way to incorporate red is in with a tablecloth. 'This tablecloth nails two trends I have been loving recently: red and gingham', says Hebe Hatton, Head of Interiors. 'Granted, it sounds very Christmassy, but the vivid red in this tablecloth is far more spring than festive'.
Even better, if you think this is too much, Hebe points out that 'there are matching napkins too, which would be ideal for trying out the unexpected red theory with a white tablecloth as a base.'
'Loewe’s tomato leaf candle is everything I love about luxury candles', says eCommerce Editor Laura Honey. 'Not only is the hand-glazed terracotta pot perfect as unexpected red decor, it’s natural enough to blend into organic interiors as well as sharper modern ones'.
Laura trained as a perfumer in a past life and loved testing the scent of this candle, too. 'A vegetable candle sounds strange, but the earthy, green scent is like the fresh air of a walled garden first thing in the morning. The throw was impressive and enduring. It might be expensive, but it’s worth every dollar'.
However, 'decorating with red doesn’t just mean highly saturated tomato tones', says Emily Moorman, News Writer. 'If you’re drawn to richer, warmer variations of this color trend, opt instead to incorporate some scarlet red into your home'.
Emily thinks that this table lamp offers just that, bringing 'instant retro-inspired character to an entryway console table or living room side table'.
News Writer, Emily Moorman, also told me that 'if you have a neutral or pared-back kitchen color scheme, incorporating some smaller red decor items can be an effective way to elevate the look of the whole space, all while adding some warmth'.
Her pick for a smaller item? This red splatter olive oil bottle, as it’s 'a practical addition that's perfect for bringing a playful splash of color to your kitchen countertop'.
I thought a red vase is the perfect way of incorporating this trend, so I turned to former floral designer and our expert Head of Gardens, Rachel Bull. Rachel loves this vase for 'the undulating, rippled texture of the glass, which, when combined with such a vibrant shade of cherry red, makes it a statement piece'.
If you're wondering how to style this vase, Rachel suggests 'structural blooms such as waxy anthuriums would beautifully echo the contemporary style of the vase. Flowers with romantic petals and curvy stems, such as Icelandic poppies, anemones, and ranunculus, would also work together superbly'.
Content Editor, Molly Malsom, told me that slightly larger items of furniture also work for the unexpected red theory. 'I’m always really drawn to deeper red tones, and this side table certainly caught my eye'. Molly added that 'the geometric take on classic bobbin furniture is something I haven’t seen a lot of, but it gives it a more unique statement feel—almost reminiscent of Spanish revival pieces'.
If you're wonder how to style it, Molly suggests using it 'as a bar cart rather than a traditional side table, though, topped with my favorite glassware best-looking bottles. It’s the perfect addition for hosting'.
While the glass vase above is great, you have some other options. 'This porcelain vase is stunning', says Content Editor, Molly Malsom. 'It’s a great piece to add a subtle pop of red to your home if your usual interior design style leans more neutral'.
Molly told me that 'the fun pineapple design paired with the color palette has a really summery feel to it, and it’s pretty enough to have on display even without any flowers or greenery in it.'
If you're still feeling the winter chill, a blanket is a great way to bring some red onto your space. Hebe Hatton, Head of Interiors, told me that 'I am a neutral scheme lover both in my home and my wardrobe, but I started accidentally testing the unexpected red theory when I bought a red scarf for the holidays. I noticed it lifting every single one of my all-over beige outfits, so, of course, the theory has seeped into my interiors too'.
She found that it actually works. It does not interrupts the minimal color palette of her home. Hebe said that 'the occasional pop of red just adds something to focus on. In my bedroom, this red throw would work perfectly layered with the creams and whites of the sheets I have, and the floral print is perfect for this time of year: Groundbreaking, I know'.
If you want something pretty and practical, it doesn't get much better than The Bialetti Dolce & Gabbana collaboration. eCommerce Editor and Coffee expert Laura Honey describes it as 'iconic'.
She told me that 'Bialetti has taken all their tradition and technical expertise and coated it with Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian-inspired bright colors and patterns. It's a moka pot that covers both form and function, and makes delicious Italian coffee'.
Now for some of my own. Velvet has my heart and I think it's coming back this year. This pillow by Aviva Stanoff offers a subtle way of introducing unexpected red. The organic material is luscious and comfortable, while the heaviness of the material brings a sense of luxury and quality. I adore the moody scarlet hue because it’s so different from the brighter reds available right now. It brings interest to a space, but it's never garish.
My family is Indian, and I’ve always had a particularly strong connection to the rich shades and textures that make up Indian textiles. This oversized rug from ABC Carpet & Home uses inspiration from my home country both in its name and make: An homage to the Sanskrit word for rebirth, the Samsara Rug has been tailored in partnership with local artisans from Pakistan, allowing for a handmade look and feel.
This perfectly plump pouf is great for resting your feet, but it also serves as a real statement piece. Sure, it's cozy while you're reading or watching a movie, but I can also see it working well as additional seating should you have an impromptu gathering, or even as a side table for books and tiny decor items. The best part? It’s on sale right now.
Unexpected red decor FAQ
What is the unexpected red decor trend?
You can trust Homes & Gardens.
In essense, the unexpected red decor trend simply means adding a pop of red to an otherwise neutral decor scheme: Think red napkins on a white tablecloth, scarlet pillows on a beige bedspread, or a ruby throw on a light gray sofa. You can use pretty much any shade of red you like, and you’ll see how it completely elevates your whole look.
Meet the experts
These are the expert editors I turned to when investing the best products for unexpected red decor.
Hebe Hatton is the Head of Interiors at Homes & Gardens; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. She oversees all our interiors content and is an expert at styling a room.
Emily Moorman is a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, working across a range of topics spanning interiors, celebrity and emerging trends. Emily especially works on the latest color news, including the emerging trend of unexpected red.
Rachel is our Head of Gardens She trained and worked as a floral designer and stylist for before joining the Homes & Gardens team, and knows exactly how to use flower arranging to bring in bursts of unexpected red.
Molly is Content Editor for Homes & Gardens. Before joining the team, she worked at Homes & Antiques magazine and The English Home magazine, writing about everything from timeless room designs to sourcing the best vintage and pre-loved homeware, so she's well-placed to find decor to incorporate unexpected red.
Laura is our eCommerce editor. Before Homes & Gardens, she qualified as a barista and trained as a master perfumer. This makes her our certified expert for all things coffee, candles, and fragrance. She tested the Loewe candle and Dolce & Gabbana moka pot featured above.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Nikhita is the Style Editor for Homes & Gardens, making sure our home-savvy readers are always aware of the latest trends and deepening their knowledge of classic design. Nikhita graduated with her Master of Arts in Magazine Journalism from New York University, and has spent a decade in interior design and shopping roles at shelter publications ELLE DECOR and Domino Magazine.
Essential water heater maintenance – 5 tasks to prevent issues developing
Routine checks and maintenance can prevent the most common issues before they arise – experts recommend these 5 simple water heater maintenance tasks
By Lola Houlton Published
Mark Ruffalo makes a classic kitchen cabinet color look brand new with this trendy metallic addition
The Poor Things actor upgraded this timeless kitchen cabinet shade with designer-approved gold accents
By Sophie Edwards Published