Step aside, Barbiecore! We’re channeling a new color of the moment.

TikTok has been the hub for some interesting interior design trends in the past few years from squiggly taper candles to the short-lived DIY tile tables and those spray foam mirrors we’re happy to see didn’t become a staple. Many TikTok design trends come out of a general desire to upgrade and DIY a space without much spending involved. While you can DIY your way to the top of the latest interior design trend, the “unexpected red theory” is less about the things in our rooms and more about a bit of shocking composition.

What is Unexpected Red?

“I’m petitioning for red to be a neutral color,” Brookyn-based designer Taylor Migliazzo Simon (@intayriors) said in her now-viral “Unexpected red theory” TikTok. In the video, she proposes that adding a pop of red in a room that otherwise doesn’t match will “automatically” make the room look better. The size, shape, and type of red item don’t matter so long as it is red and bold.

Adding a red lamp to a teal room? Framing a painting in a bold red frame? These contrasting choices draw the eye, but they also add energy to the space and can change a room’s style from drab to modern with a little color.

Why Red?

Since Taylor introduced the unexpected red theory to TikTok, people have been playing with other “unexpected” colors from orange to burgundy. While introducing a contrasting color in a space works, and even Taylor has made more videos showing her following how to style these colors, color theorists have been at work to explain why red in particular is the It color choice for this.

Apartment Therapy predicted more subdued red tones for interior design trends in 2024, and the idea of creating heavy contrast by painting a wall or introducing an odd item to a room isn’t new. As a primary color, red is a great choice for this, especially when you go for a more saturated, primary red which, being at the heart of the color wheel (alongside yellow and blue, of course) means it plays well with a lot of colors and has contrasting relationships with a wide range of hues. Red can be an amplifier in an otherwise subdued space, making the room feel more alive and intentional.

Other Uses for Unexpected Red

If you already have your dream space, don’t worry. The trend has quickly expanded beyond interior design. TikTok creators have been looking for unexpected places to put red from adding the color to art to creating outfits with a sudden pop of red to bring everything together. Turns out you can experiment with red in all areas of your life. Maybe Taylor is onto something about it being a neutral color.

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.