What Is ‘Unexpected Red’?


Is your living room drab? Is your bedroom a bit blah? How about your bathroom? Could it use a touch of panache?

Try adding something red.

At least that’s the theory held by Taylor Migliazzo Simon.

Ms. Migliazzo Simon, a designer in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, made the case for her notion in a recent TikTok video that has been viewed nearly a million times.

“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,” Ms. Migliazzo Simon, 30, says at the start of the video.

She goes on to show the color red in rooms where it would not seem to match, including a mostly green bathroom with a pair of red sinks and a hotel hallway with purple walls and red doors.

“I’m petitioning to make red a neutral color,” she says, “because it just looks good with everything.”

In a phone interview, Ms. Migliazzo Simon said she came up with the “unexpected red” theory while looking at apartments and browsing Pinterest.

“I would notice just the pop of red in a very intentionally designed room,” she said. “It didn’t have to be a giant sofa. It could be something like a picture frame or a lampshade, even if there was no other red in the room.”

Ms. Migliazzo Simon said the same trick might work with other vibrant colors, like cobalt blue. But then again, no.

“There is something about red, specifically,” she said. “It evokes so many different emotions, both positive and negative, that it grabs your attention.”

Katherine Lewin, a red devotee who owns Big Night, a pair of home goods stores in New York, called the color “kind of addictive.”

“The first time I ever noticed it was in the year 2009 or 2010, when I first deigned to try a red lip,” Ms. Lewin said. “I was like, ‘Whoa. There’s a lot of power that comes from this color.’”

While designing her store’s second location, Ms. Lewin, 32, found herself puzzling over a white light fixture that was almost perfect. It didn’t reach its full potential until she and her team painted it red.

The popularity of the “unexpected red” video is the latest sign of TikTok’s ability to amplify home décor trends. Ms. Migliazzo Simon noted how the platform helped spread “bookshelf wealth,” a look that joins high-end design with the disheveled sensibility of a comp lit major.

“Trends are coming and going faster than anybody can keep up,” she said. “I feel like red is a pretty timeless color. This, hopefully, isn’t something that just blows up and then falls to the wayside.”

Still, TikTok’s unquenchable algorithm is all but certainly hatching a new aesthetic as you read this.

“Everyone wants to be on the next trend, because that’s how you gain popularity in the social media realm,” said the designer Kailee Blalock, who popularized the term “bookshelf wealth” on the platform. “It’s the first person to talk about the next big thing who gets that initial clout.”



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