Designing around a Red Sofa

I’m working on a family room design right now that is to revolve around my client’s existing red sofa.  This is a (fun) challenge for me as I don’t often use red in large doses.  Red can often be overdone- the wrong shade on the walls, or just too much of it everywhere- but with the right design it can be powerful, warm, happy and chic.  Since the sectional is such a big piece visually  I’d prefer not to over-saturate the room with more red.  Instead, I want to find a way to tie it to other colors that will complement it.This is the sofa…



I plan to introduce new colors with a rug and pillows.  Here are my favorite color schemes that work well with red.  Which is your favorite?

I love red mixed with powder blue for a preppy, happy feel.  Tie in a powder blue rug with a pillow that features both red and the same shade of blue.
Interiors 1 2 3
I love red mixed with pink for a romantic yet vibrant room.  Mix in black to add a tailored edge to the space.
Interiors 1 2 3 4
  1. very nice color theming. looks feminine but strong. would definitely recommend this kind of interior to my female clients with strong personality! thanks for sharing.

  2. I came over from Emily Clark’s blog to say thank you to you for this post! I am so stuck with my deep red sofa and love seat, and feeling depressed that I cannot change it at the moment(due to us being stationed in Hawaii, companies won’t ship here, stores here aren’t my taste, or of course too expensive for an Air Force family’s budget). I have already bought and hung some powder blue silk drapes and 2 matching pillows from trying to freshen it up a year ago. Your first mood board has boosted me to find some patterns and continue on with that color scheme. I cannot thank you enough for puting together such a helpful post!

    • Naomi

      Awe, So glad it was helpful Erin!

  3. Fantastic examples! You are amazing! Love the top choice with the pillows you chose! Also could see the pink if tempered with some gray like that photo. Love.

  4. e.horn

    I’m not usually a pink person, but I like it with the red couch!

  5. It seems I’m in the minority here but I vote for the red + powder blue scheme. I love the Madeline Weinrib rug and the pillow combo for that option. Red and pink are gorgeous together but it makes the feel very feminine which might not work depending on your clients. I will enjoy seeing how the project turns out!

  6. Naomi I actually love the red & pink! I can see black lacquer introduced in side tables/ coffee table or and armoire!

    Art by Karena

  7. Red and pink are a favourite combo for me but I’m pretty sure my husband would not be on board.

  8. I have to admit that red is not one of my favorite colors but I really love the color combinations you have come up with. Especially the red and pink.

  9. I like the red with a deeper blue best. I see that the red and pink is very “you” – but if the clients includes a husband, that may be too feminine (or just too loud. Most of the men I know are more neutral-minded than most of the women I know. My husband, for example, wears only neutrals, and is visibly happier when I wear black. Head to toe, even. I like black, but I love color).

  10. wow, I love all these chic red combos, but my favorite inspiration board you put together is the cerulean one! Good luck choosing between all those fabulous picks!

  11. Emily

    The red and pink (but with little pops of blue) is my favorite, but I know it wouldn’t work for everyone.

  12. Definitely the red and pink. I think the most chic rooms are the ones with analagous color schemes…
    xoxo -e (modern24seven)

  13. I wanted to write “calm”, sorry, the kids are distracting..:)

  14. Well. all three are great, but it looks I’m the only one voting powder blue! It speaks to me in the way that it is clam and serene and it makes the red pop.

  15. Kathy

    The red and cerulean blue is my favorite but the red and pink is a close runner up!

  16. I absolutely adore the red with the cerulean blue (and just a touch of green to offset the combo!). I can’t wait to see what direction you take. I’ve worked with a client who insisted on keeping their 90’s burgundy leather sofa. As you said, it was a (fun) challenge. Thanks for the great ideas and inspiration!


  17. Definitely the cerulean clue. The pillows and rug you chose just match the “feel” of that sofa the best.

  18. Erin

    I used to have a red dining room and powder blue living room… voting for red and cerulean (although for the right person, red and pink is so sharp!).

  19. OH my gosh @JLlo thanks for the sweet comment. I mean, really, I appreciate all the comments y’all, but that one made my morning.

  20. nelya

    I gotta say, red + pink tempered with some black and a fabulous ethnic rug really pushes all my buttons. That Miles Redd room is the ultimate! Can’t wait to see where you go with this fun challenge!

  21. JLlo

    Naomi – this is such an exciting post! As an avid follower of design, but with no formal background or training, seeing how someone I admire approaches decorating (in particular when dealing with real world budgets and existing furniture) is a huge treat.

    The nearly infinite number of design blogs out there is mind-boggling, but DM is truly special. I’m surely not alone when I say “thank you” for the very valuable content you add to the design-blogosphere conversation.

  22. My favorite is the red with cerulean blue. I would add purple of course but then again I always add purple! Love the mix of pillows in that combo especially!

  23. we’ve now worked with two clients who had red furniture in their living rooms that they didnt want to change. i was so baffled by it. but i LOVE the direction you are going here and most of all, about how to work with the challenge. YAY for you. ps – love that light turquoise looks iwth it!

  24. Lynn

    I recently exchanged my charcoal grey (and totally uncomfortable) sofa for a beautiful red one (I hadn’t intended to, but fell in love). It actually fits really well in my living room – the walls are a very matt pale greenish gray, the floor oak herringbone, the furniture is a bit of everything, the carpet under the Danish dining table an old Qashqai, and the one under the coffee table a dusty teal. Although there were already bits of red and teal in accessories and art, I was surprised at how the red sofa made itself immediately at home…:-)

  25. Ashley

    Ooh, red and blue? Totally up my alley. I’d move right into that red and cerulean room and never move out.

  26. Holly

    I love the deeper blues with red so I would prefer that last option. I’m not usually drawn to red but I like that sofa and I have added some red touches in our home recently.

  27. Love this post. So many people still have the infamous red sofa that was so popular several years ago. Amazing how the right accessories make it look so good.

  28. Blue is my favorite color and I use it in every room, so I’m surprised to hear myself say the pink is my favorite. I really like that rug you chose for it.

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