California Paints’ Historic Color Collection Puts Red in Perspective

Red spices up a room like no other hue, but few dare to integrate this powerful primary color into their color selection. Looking back at the historic use of red is a great place to find inspiration. Maryellen Mantyla, color expert and Vice President of Marketing at California Paints, recommends the robust collection of reds in the 20th Century® Colors of America palette offered exclusively from California Paints.

“The detailed history behind each color is what makes them so unique,” she says. “Every color in our 20th Century collection is supported with an authentic color biography. Each story is an in-depth look at how and when the shade became popular and what influenced its emer- gence in our color history,” adds Mantyla.

The collection’s Hot Tin Roof is a rich scarlet red that was among the most favored hues of the Art Deco style. As one of the modern movement’s signature colors, red was often used to create dramatic contrast with bright white and black. This color combination can be adapted with pairings of modern cream and gray instead of the traditional white and black.

“The key to working with a bold color like red is to create a focal point in the space. Shades of red work especially well on accent walls when used with muted colors and surrounding neutrals,” says Mantyla.


Also from 20th Century® Colors, Strong Punch is a deep vermillion from a 1907 wallpaper pattern. It was a popular accent color in the 1930s; a painted table or shelf might sport this color to brighten a tired interior. This shade could also be found in the bold interiors of a mid-century modern décor where a punch of strong color gave focus to an accent wall or room divider. Modern applications of red continue, using this same idea from the 1930s, but today’s applications include pairing red with unexpected shades like gray and blue. Gold and yellow-based neutrals are also ideal complements to red when looking for an updated palette with a rich and warm feel.

Combustion, also from the 20th Century palette, is a rich berry red inspired by an early 20th century wallpaper pattern.It was a staple of the craftsman dining room. Wine-colored walls in burgundy and ruby have been popular for dining rooms since the early 19th century. In the 21st, the use of red has expanded to many rooms of the home and is no longer limited to dining spaces. Using red as an accent has been modernized to include painted cabinets, furniture and color blocking treatments on walls. Red can be traditional or trend forward depending on the other elements and colors used in the room.