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Vintage red toys, decor and accessories for nurseries, playrooms and kids' rooms

How to Use Red in Kids' Rooms: 5 Ways to Apply the 'Unexpected Red' Theory in your Nursery or Playroom

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Interiors channels (or, more specifically, social media) have been awash in recent weeks with musings on the so-called 'unexpected red' theory. 

“The 'unexpected red' theory is basically adding anything that's red, big or small, to a room where it doesn't match at all and it automatically looks better,” explained Brooklyn-based interior designer Taylor Migliazzo Simon says in her soon-to-go viral TikTok video.

We put the theory to our followers on Instagram who, to a woman, a.) agreed and b.) said they'd been using pops of red for years in their interiors without needing a social media 'trend' to validate the decision!

Here we take a look at some of our favourite children's spaces for inspiration as to how best to add a little red to our nurseries and playrooms.

Starting with furniture, a glossy, lacquered red stool or vintage red school chair (check out Blue Ticking for lots of vintage school furniture options) could be the perfect solution. Or go bold with the bed à la Alexandra Tolstoy, whose daughter's Scumble Goosie bunk beds bring the room alive in Farrow & Ball's fabulous 'Rectory Red'.

A stripey red lampshade (look no further than Alice Palmer!) or perhaps the beside lamp itself (try Dunelm for an affordable paint-your-own bobbin option) are great options for introducing a measured dose of red, as perfectly demonstrated by Katharine Paravicini in her son's room. 

We love Katie Cardew's idea of using a trim where wall meets ceiling (check out Camilla Hampton's plethora of trim options) to carry a vein of unexpected red across the room.

A unique piece of wall art (or even just its frame) is a brilliant way to release some red into the room. A framed Victorian ‘red work’ embroidery looks extremely elegant, as does a vintage Swedish Flemish weave tapestry. Yasamin Feehily-Ghazizadeh shows us how Babar the Elephant NEVER goes out of style! Look to Petri Prints for vintage framed Babars and Moppet for vintage Babar bookends, money banks and more!

A stripy red blind is a surprisingly foolproof way to add red, as executed to perfection in Clare O'Connell's son's room using Ian Mankin's chunky Devon Stripe. We also love Tori Murphy’s fabulous Sleeper Stripe for statement blinds and curtains.  

Kids' rooms are arguably the easiest place to start experimenting with red. Where better to lean into adding joyful splashes of colour, and what better gender-neutral colour to start with?

Add to that the fact that, while modern toys often opt for a more nuanced, muted palette (and we're not mad about it), for the last century and more red was the colour of choice for all things kids. For this reason you'll find Moppet's shelves brimming with the type of celebratory, pillar-box red that looks at home in literally every little person's bedroom. 

Shop the 'Unexpected Red' Look