Red: A DIY Story

Recently I wrote about the power of the colour red. This time I wanted to share with you how to seamlessly thread this strong hue into your decor.

I like to follow the 60:30:10 rule: when choosing colours for a room, stick to three because this is enough to make it interesting without clashing or confusing. Then, rather than using equal amounts of each colour, divide them into 60%, 30% and 10%. The main colour should cover around 60% of the space i.e. the walls, add 30% of the second colour i.e. major furniture pieces and flooring, and the final 10% is a third colour that brings the whole scheme together and creates accents where you want them. In my case, that colour is red.

There are a lot of ways to introduce the accent colour into your existing decor.  You can start slowly, on a small scale with maybe just a photo frame on your nightstand and then add a little more in the form of decorative boxes stacked beside it.

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Fresh flowers are the most obvious and easiest way to bringing colour into your home.

But, if you’re a little more adventurous and into DIYs, here are a few projects of mine in which I used red.

When my daughter requested extra room for her ever-growing book collection, I thought I’d go for something other than the traditional bookshelf. What I ended up buying is a leaning bathroom storage unit from BednBath that was originally white. By painting it a vermillion colour and adding some little treasures for a personal touches, the shelf not only provides some much-needed storage but also makes a point of interest out of an otherwise utilitarian landing space. 


This project was born when we bought this funky sculpture made by a friend of ours, Toni Pinkus. The challenge here was to find the perfect stand that was in the step with the sculpture, would be a statement piece on its own but not overpowering the artwork, thereby achieving harmony between the two pieces. Consideration had to be given to the proportion, colour and style of the stand. Finally, everything had to be in sync with the existing decor of the living room space.
After unsuccessfully browsing the net for hours, I decided to go with a design of my own. As I wanted to involve my husband in the project, I had to come up with something that could be created by somebody who wasn’t a handyman by trade but did know his way around a hammer and nail. I chose a U-shape and determined the size of the vertical part of the structure by applying that centuries-old nugget loved by artists of all times, the golden ratio, 1:3.
As for the colour, using the same 60:30:10 rule, I chose red again so as to add contrast to the room’s otherwise neutral colour palette and to create a focal point.
Armed with measurements and a sketch, we made a trip to our local timber yard where we purchased cut-to-measure wood, strong glue and nails. Next stop was the art and craft supplies store where I purchased red acrylic paint and a roller brush. The rest, as they say, is history. 



These bowls were bought over numerous trips to South Africa, at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. Made by people from the township, the bowls are papier-mache using a variety of wrappers from sardines, matchboxes etc. Because they’re made out of paper, the bowls don’t have much use other than as receptacles for peanut, which nobody in my family likes anyway. But, remembering the quip from the Freedom Furniture ads, “think outside the square you live in”, I was inspired to mount the bowls on a blank canvas that I had lying around in the storage room. Lacking red paint, I instead covered the canvas in red tissue paper saved from a Mother’s Day present. Then I simply glued the bowls on top of the papered canvas and hung it on the wall. The result was more interesting and effective than I had expected; the contrast between the red, yellow and blue and the repetition of the sardines and other fish draws the eye every time. I can’t help but smile when as I watch guests trying to figure out what they’re actually looking that.
When it comes to being creative, anything and everything goes!