Can the unexpected red theory make your home look more expensive? Experts reveal how it works

The viral interior design method is taking over TikTok – but can it better your home?

A bedroom with colourful prints on the wall and a red floor lamp
(Image credit: John Lewis)

The mass obsession with the colour red has been apparent since last year when it became truly trendy. It all started with fashion as we started seeing more red shoes, cardigans and even tights. But soon, all things red were making their way into our homes. And now, it’s all perhaps being validated by the viral unexpected red theory.

The home decor trend was made famous in the past few weeks by New York-based interior decorator Taylor Simon who took to TikTok to explain how adding anything of the colour red in a room where it shouldn’t really be or work there, makes the space automatically look better.

But does the theory actually work in practice? And will the unexpected red theory make your home look nice, perhaps even more elevated and expensive? Those are the questions that we’re looking to answer here.

A living room with a contrasting red sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Lee)

Unexpected red theory trend

Last year, red paint made a comeback. And now, it’s all about red accents and accessories. Even though, you can technically utilise red paint to achieve the unexpected red theory by painting shelves or cabinets to contrast with the rest of the space.

‘The unexpected red theory is a captivating concept in interior design that suggests incorporating a pop of red into any space, even where it might not seem to belong, can instantly elevate its aesthetic appeal,’ says Sam Sutherland, Flitch interior stylist. ‘This trend, popularised by designers like Taylor Migliazzo Simon, harnesses the vibrancy and attention-grabbing nature of red to add energy and intrigue to a room.’


♬ original sound - Taylor Simon

But it turns out that this method is nothing all that new or groundbreaking, whether it’s adding unexpected pops of red or other primary colour accents. ‘It’s actually a design device that interior stylists have been using for a long time, but it’s made its way as a mainstream trend thanks to social media and the fact that red is trending right now – from the fashion catwalks and high street to decor,’ explains Lucy Mather, interior design expert at Arighi Bianchi.

So in short, it works as it’s an age-old well-tested method to make a space look elevated.

A bathroom with a bathtub and pops of red

(Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Lee)

‘As red can scream confidence, it can make any interior look more elevated,’ says Sarah Lloyd, paint and interiors expert at Valspar Paint. ‘When adding the colour red through “pops of colour” rather than throughout the whole space, it can make the interiors feel bold, elegant and sophisticated.’

Sam continues, ‘Not only does the unexpected red theory work, but it also has the potential to make a home look both nicer and more expensive. By introducing a carefully chosen pop of red, whether through accessories, accent walls, or furniture pieces, you can create a sense of sophistication and dynamism that instantly upgrades the overall ambiance. Red’s innate visibility and ability to inject vitality into a space make it a powerful tool.’

A bedroom with a single red bed with a bobbin frame set against a floral wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Get the look

How to use the unexpected red theory in your home

John Lewis SS24 Home collection

(Image credit: John Lewis)

So if you’re looking to update your bedroom or living room colour scheme, perhaps a touch of red here and there could help make it look more lively and considered at the same time.

‘The use of any unexpected colour or design, adds to the feeling of a room being thoughtfully designed and well put together,’ Lucy says. ‘You’re not following convention! I love a statement chair in a living room – and red chairs can work with lots of existing colourways. We’ve also seen lots of cranberry reds and burgundy undertones used recently in interiors, which offer a richness and depth of colour. Blinds and curtains are also another great way to go bold with this trend.’

This trend, or rather interior design technique, is endlessly versatile so you can go as big or as little as you like. Which also makes it very budget-friendly.

A bedroom with colourful prints on the wall and a red floor lamp

(Image credit: Desenio)

‘The beauty of the unexpected red theory is that it can be an easy and cost-effective way of highlighting your interior design know-how,’ says Daniel Prendergast, design director at The Rug Seller. ‘Who wants their home to be bland and conformist! There are no rules when it comes to adding a pop of red into your space. From smaller pieces like cushions, throws and rugs, to a statement wall or larger piece of furniture like a bookcase or chair there are endless options with how you can work with this trend.’

This is a trend that we think can stand the test of time as you can really make it your own. And that’s what it’s all about.

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.