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It has been said that red is no color for sissies. It is bold, exciting, warm, vital and, these days, it's everywhere.

On leather upholstery, toasters, bed linens, tableware, blenders, tea kettles, even telephones.

Trendy it is not. It has long been a popular color for home libraries and restaurant walls. Yet, when the paint chips fly, it takes a certain degree of self-confidence and spirit to finally give red the green light.

Timid sorts need not apply.

"Chinese red adds drama to a room that no other color will. It's untiring and unending," says Robert Reeder, interior design manager for Florence Cooper Interiors who helped one local couple dress up their dining room in this appetizing shade.

It's also a great stage-setter for everything else that goes in a room, he adds.

Ah, yes, the theatrical side of red.

Red, of course, commands an audience. No one will eat in a crimson dining room and later forget the color of the walls. Any more than they will forget the woman in a red dress.

Too daring? Red -- in any of its variations -- can also be used as an exclamation point in a setting.

Just as a dash of hot chili sauce kicks up a ho-hum dish, a pair of red pillows or single red vase adds spice to a neutral room.

Either way, the hue is hot. So go ahead. Get caught red-handed.

Susan Martin alternates her FIRST SUNDAY Design column with one on style.

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