The TikTok-Viral ‘Unexpected Red Theory’ Could Be Key to Elevating Your Interiors

Unexpected red theory

Babe, wake up, a new interior design trend just dropped on TikTok. The trend in question is the Unexpected Red Theory, a term coined by TikTok creator and Brooklyn-based interior designer Taylor Simon.

In the clip, Simon explains that the theory is that adding a homewares or furniture piece to a room, big or small, where it doesn’t match the rest of the interiors can tie a room together. “It automatically looks better,” Simon says in the clip.

She then goes on to share some interior examples — red sinks in a bathroom with green marble and green, textured walls. A red painting hung in a hallway with purple walls. A red lamp sitting above an orange couch and blue side table.

“I’m petitioning for red to be a neutral colour because it just looks good in everything,” Simon says.

@intayriors UNEXPECTED RED THEORY #unexpectedredtheory #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Taylor Simon

Commenters did point out that all the interiors Simon had referenced showed red alongside its complementary and analogous colour pairings, green and purple, which is why the pop of colour worked.

Another TikTok creator, Maegan Blau, posted that she’d learnt the theory in design school, though, her teacher had described it as the Lipstick Theory. The teacher had stated that a room is not complete without a pop of red or other colour that can be used as lipstick.

“It doesn’t have to be fire engine red, but it could be pinks or mauves or burgundies, things like that,” Blau says in the clip.

Unexpected red theory
Image: Unsplash

She adds that, as a designer, she doesn’t use red that often in her interiors. Recently, though, she’s been liking seeing the pops of the colours in spaces. So while she was once firm about not using red in design, she’s now been more open to it.

“If you’re feeling like your space is missing a little something, try adding a little bit of red,” she says. “It could even be in flowers that are not permanent. To give you that extra pop and vibe of something.”

@bluecopperdesign #stitch with @Taylor Migliazzo Simon ♥️ Red is a color I never thought I would use, but I’m looking forward to using more in my designs. There’s a way to incorporate it without it looking dated, and adding a little pop of red or pink, can really add interest in pull a room together. Unexpected Red Theory or Lipstick theroy as I like to call it is a classic design practice and has been around for decades. You can even use orange if that’s more your vibe. #bluecopperdesign #redtheory #interiordesigner #interiordesignideas #interiordesign ♬ original sound – bluecopperdesign

Fashion TikTok creators have also recently used the theory in outfits, with users sharing added pops of red in the form of jumpers, scarves, or baseball caps. In many cases, the base of the outfit will be black, white, grey, or denim.

Psychologically, red is said to attract the most attention and is associated with strong emotions, like love, passion, and anger, writes the London Image Institute. It’s the universal colour to signify strength, power, courage, and danger, and has a strong link to sexuality and increased appetites.

“Red is energising and exciting, motivating us to act,” the Institute shares. “It can also give confidence to those who are shy or lacking in willpower.

“[…] A little can go a long way, however, and in large areas, red can cause visual strain. Wearing it too much, too often can brand you as a person in charge, but also as a bossy person.”

The takeaway from all the hot takes? If you feel like a room or outfit might be a bit too bland for your liking, try adding a small, simple pop of red. It doesn’t necessarily need to be fire-engine red, but can be any lipstick-colour shade.

If anything, the theory teaches us to experiment and have fun with our interiors and outfits. Playing around with unexpected elements could be key to tying the final look together.

Related: The $15 IKEA Lamp Interior Designers Are Obsessed With

Related: Get a Year’s Worth of Interiors Inspo from These Best-Designed Homes in Aus

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