Red kitchens – 14 bold looks in rust, pillar box, terracotta

Red kitchens pack a punch in style and design interest. Choose bold retro looks, warm rusty hues or subtle modern accents to highlight the best spot in the house.

A kitchen with red, brown and white color blocked wall paint decor, kitchen island, red stool and grey ceiling pendant light
(Image credit: Dulux)

Red kitchens have had a bit of a renaissance. It's a bold color for sure but get it right and you will give your kitchen, if not your entire home, a new lease of life.

Experimenting with kitchen color ideas like red will open you up a whole spicy palette of hues. Choose from rusty terracotta for an earthy atmosphere, a Merlot berry red for a vampy and dramatic vibe or nod to the 1950's with a pillar box tone.

Whichever rouge you choose, our gallery of red kitchen ideas will help you add a warm tone to your food prep space. But, as it is such a dominant color, we've got in touch with paint and kitchen experts who have shared their knowledge on lighting, shades, seating... And even how to save yourself a few dollars by doing a DIY job with professional results. 

Red kitchen ideas to rejuvenate your space

'Add a splash of color to the busiest room in your home with a red kitchen,' says Marianne Shillingford, creative director, Dulux

'Whether it's a modern, eclectic or farmhouse style, there are red paint colors for every kitchen. An attention-grabbing red and black kitchen makes a strong impression, while a rustic red and white kitchen can be paired with wooden details for the perfect embodiment of country-style.'

'Red kitchen paint can easily update and transform your cooking space, from bold cherry hues to warm and cosy vintage shades. Dare to go bold with red walls or utilize the shade in your decor with red kitchen accents.'

1. Mix and match cabinetry colors

A modern traditional kitchen with paprika red and navy painted cabinetry

(Image credit: Neptune)

'Using two contrasting shades of paint is something that’s worth considering,' says Daniel Boden-Wilson, PR manager, Neptune.

'Use an equal balance of both colors and the one tempers the other. In this case, it’s all about creating a stark contrast, but the colors don't have to be compatible. Here, we’ve used navy and Paprika – two shades that can be both warm and cool, making them tonally well-suited.

'It’s important to think about the light too and what effect it’ll have on the paint color. Here, the bright light highlights the pink undertones of the Paprika paint, which makes it a far more suitable companion for navy. If this were in a low-ceilinged room with little light, the partnership wouldn’t be as successful, because Paprika’s red-brown base would make the overall palette feel a touch muddy.'

'The same thinking applies to the other elements in the room. Your cabinet colors need to sit well with the flooring, wall color, hardware and tiles. Warm tones of the wooden floorboards are reflected in the Paprika paint.'

2. Create scarlet cabinets

A red cabinet and console table in a kitchen with marbled island, brass-colored bar stools and Herringbone-style wooden flooring

(Image credit: The Painted Furniture Company)

If you're in the mood to sass up your kitchen with a bit of scarlet – you don't need to splash out on new cabinetry. Find a red paint you like in a suitable finish for the material you intend to paint and have fun upcycling your existing dresser and other storage.

Whether you have wood or laminate cabinets, our guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets has a glut of good advice – so get stuck into our tutorial.

3. Add a pop of color with red seating

A white kitchen with red bar stools around the island with trio of black pendant ceiling lights

(Image credit: Future)

If you've already committed to having a white kitchen, but want to add a pop of color without messy paint or expensive furniture – go for the best bar stools. You can either find some chairs that are already the color you want, or upcycle them with paint that matches the rest of you red kitchen decor.

Love the symmetry of having a trio of chairs and ceiling pendant lights around the kitchen island. Three is definitely the magic number when it comes to interior design. But if you've a bigger space, odd digits do well too.

4. Choose retro red countertops

1950's style red and cream kitchen decorated in American diner

(Image credit: John Lewis of Hungerford)

The recreation of a classic 1950s diner look is sure to make your kitchen a real talking point. The grey and white checkered floor is a twist on the monochrome motif we're more used to, but serves well in this predominantly cream kitchen.

'Home trends evolve over the years, but when the fashions of yesterday become popular once again, it’s evident they are meant to last,' says John Lewis, founder of  John Lewis of Hungerford.

'The retro theme is gaining popularity throughout the art, fashion and music worlds, so it is perhaps no surprise that retro kitchen design is also back in vogue.'

If your home didn't come with this coveted floor design, take this on as a DIY job with our guide on how to paint a classic checkboard flooring.

5. Use a muted red in a modern farmhouse kitchen

A rusty red kitchen cabinetry with raw wooden flooring and cream dresser

(Image credit: Plain English Cupboard Makers)

The cabinetry in this kitchen and scullery has been hand-painted in Plain English’s ‘Rusty Nail’, creating a unique and characterful corner.

Modern appliances are concealed behind Spitalfields cupboards and the worktops have been carpentered using oiled oak. Raw linen, textured walls and a glint of burnished copper add depth to this cheerful design.

But, don't be deterred by the British name of this company if you're stateside. With a showroom in Manhattan and projects in New York and California, copying this oxidized red kitchen couldn't be easier.

6. Make a stand with red and black

A red kitchen dresser cabinet with black and floral patterned detail in interior

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

Black kitchens don't have to be dark and depressing. If anything, you want this space to look inviting and appetizing for guests and family members. Introducing red kitchen decor will help to make this space feel warm, as will pretty floral and food-patterned details.

'A very traditional color that was often used in country house kitchens, this rich deep red works anywhere and has the ability to make a piece of furniture instantly feel grand and smart. Mix with black granite or slate for a truly authentic look.' says Zoe Parker, PR Manager, deVOL Kitchens when discussing their Refectory Red shade.

7. Use glossy berry tones in small spaces

open shelving in a small red kitchen with small dining table

(Image credit: Ikea)

When working with small kitchen, there are loads of different ways to give the illusion of a larger space. If you've already picked out a statement pendant light, you'll want a warm glow to bounce off reflective surface. Now, we're not suggesting mirrored furniture, but high-gloss cabinetry can do the trick.

While a pillar box red with orange undertones can be overwhelming, this winey tone is a willing choice if you're looking to subtly introduce red kitchen decor into your kitchen-diner. While this sultry look may appear expensive-looking, you can get the goods from IKEA.

8. Contrast a blue kitchen with a decorative red tiles

A blue kitchen by Annie Sloan with Chalk Paint In Greek Blue Athenian, table painted in Napoleonic, Chair painted in Burgundy Scandi and Pink Napoleonic tiles

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Blue kitchens are a calming environment for budding chefs and those using the space as a WFH setup. But, if you want to add some dynamic energy, then red is a great choice to fire it up a few Fahrenheit.

'Powder blue is actually the perfect partner for a bright and bold pillar box red shade,' says color expert, Annie Sloan.

'It instantly cools the fiery tendencies of the red and has connotations of fun and playful mid-century decor. Think American Diner, or indeed those beautifully playful blue and red Italian kitchens and cafe schemes of the 1950s era – powder blue and pillar box red? It’s tried and tested!'

9. Choose a red range cooker 

Red aga in kitchen with chocolate lab

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

OK – we admit, range cookers are an expensive investment. But if you can afford this statement item in your traditional kitchen – then make it the decor du jour. Range cookers can last up around 15 years if they are properly maintained, so if you're a homeowner, you may want to save up for this splurge-worthy item. After all, if you think about how many times you'll be using it – the cost per use is totally justifiable.

If we've convinced you, our guide to the best range cookers that money can buy is a must-read.

10. Use red and pink candy stripes 

Pink and red kitchen with candy stripe wall decor and framed wall art

(Image credit: @quirkandrescue)

We've seen pink kitchens all over Instagram and although they are a space for adults to prepare and cook food – that doesn't mean that you can't have fun with your walls. Owners of this kitchen, Ms. Pink and Mr. Black (aka @quirkandrescue) have decorated their space with pink and red paint to create some kid-friendly candy stripes.

They say: 'If you want to make a big, modern maximalist impact, (as Sophie Robinson said of our work), it's best to have a tight color palette. It doesn't get much tighter for us than this. Pink, red and grey! Which colors which you choose?'

If you think this sweet red kitchen idea would suit your scheme, pick up a pot of two of the best kitchen paints.

11. Mix a terracotta red with brass finishes

Terracotta red kitchen with raw wooden dining area and brass handles on cabinetry

(Image credit: Plain English Cabinetry)

Burnt orange and warm red kitchen ideas remind us of trips to North Africa with smells of gorgeous Tagines and sights of tourists bartering for earthenware in souks. But, if you want a taste of the exotic closer to home, choose a Terracotta red for your kitchen cabinets, and pair it with wooden and antique brass fixtures.

'The lovingly oiled Teak worktop provides deep work surface for preparing, cleaning, serving and storing… as well as complimenting perfectly, the ‘Tuscan Red’ paint color and Antique brass knobs.' says Josie Fontana-Reval, marketing director, Plain English Cupboardmakers.

12. Add texture with red concrete paint

A kitchen with grey dresser and red concrete walls

(Image credit: Oak Furnitureland)

While grey kitchens ideas are a classic staple – amplify them with a red chalk or suede-effect wall paint to add a cool industrial and textured edge. To do this, you can buy a specialist paint from Frenchic.

13. Add a red light fixture

A contemporary kitchen design with trio of red ceiling lights around island

(Image credit: DelightFULL)

Featuring strong colors and a unique lighting piece, renowned interior designer, Meg Miller, has created a contemporary kitchen project that is sociable with lots of seating around the kitchen island and beyond. But, we think the star of the show is this Sinatra Suspension kitchen lighting design in a bright cherry red finish.

14. Color block with brown to warm a cool red

A kitchen with red and brown color blocked wall decor with island in centre of kitchen, red stool and grey ceiling pendant light

(Image credit: Dulux)

This tasty color blocked scheme balances bold, bright wall decor using Dulux's Easycare Kitchen in Dynamite Red and Spiced Honey.

Make your red kitchen unique by playing with an additional soft shade on the top of the wall, such as White Cotton Keeping these colors neutral will help your cooking space feel inviting without being overwhelming. What a culinary delight.

Is red a good color for a kitchen?

'Warm and welcoming, daring and dramatic, red paint can make a statement in doses big or small,' says Shillingford.

'From energetic candy red paint, to luxurious deep red paint, a coat of the primary hue can add a surprising pop of color to any room. Denoting power and passion, our shades of red paint can evoke excitement, playfulness or a classic touch.'

'If bold and bright isn't your thing, historic hues such as cherry red paint can be beautiful but sedate.'

How can I cheaply decorate a red kitchen?

'The easiest and speediest way to update your kitchen? A spoonful of color,' says Shillingford.

'Whether you want to put a personal stamp on your kitchen (without the cost of getting a new one) or just fancy a change, you'd be surprised at what a difference a fresh lick of paint on your cupboards can make to the overall look and feel of your kitchen.'

Christina Chrysostomou
Christina Chrysostomou

 CHRISTINA CHRYSOSTOMOU: DIGITAL WRITER, REALHOMES.COM

The newest addition to the team, I am a Digital Writer at Realhomes.com and joined the team in June 2021.

Living in close proximity to Epping Forest, I am spoiled for choice with lush green spaces and also have a lovely English garden complete with a floral melange of roses, lavender, jasmine and an apple tree in my 2-bed ground floor maisonette.


My interior style is…

Quite the juxtaposition, my home is a 'coordinated hodgepodge' of the latest interior styles. However, featuring lots of white and grey decor, oak doors throughout and an upcycled rustic shelf made from a ladder and two wooden planks, the Scandi Chic trend dominates my home.

I'm also a massive fan of multi-functional broken plan design. My living room space is an office by day and social space to relax on evenings and weekends.


My next project...

I love entertaining family and friends and often extend my hospitality to include an overnight stay. So my next project would be to renovate our guest room with a boutique hotel style scheme to create a luxe-looking space.


My lust list...

Appearances are everything in Essex, so a huge statement floor length mirror is on the list! Failing that, a lovely vintage Persian rug would also add some color and culture to my sitting room space. Having been stuck indoors during lockdown, I'm a woman consumed by wanderlust. 

So all in all, I think the real answer is - a blank checkbook?


Special interests:

I'm a sucker for high street and designer brand collaborations. I think they are a great way of getting your hands on a statement piece at an entry-level price. 


Follow me:

Instagram: @stinachrysostomou

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