Behind the Color Orange

Learn how orange can create a friendly, approachable feeling for your interiors.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmer

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmer

By: Jeannie Matteucci
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If your home needs a jolt of energy, orange might be what you need. Orange conjures images of citrus fruit or a summer sunset, and represents happiness and innovation.

Orange has a reputation for being overwhelming, but variations like apricot and terra cotta can inspire relaxation. A deep orange can feel bold during the day but cozy and warm at night.

Top Orange Ideas for Every Room

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Energetic Orange

A natural fit for dining rooms and kitchens, orange is an appetite stimulant. Use an orange tone-on-tone wall treatment to add energy to a drab dining room. Designed by Chip Wade

Warm Orange

Less orange is more in the kitchen. Veining throughout this stone wall adds a vibrant touch to this modern kitchen. Orange is closely related to red in its relationship with heat, and many foods are associated with orange shades (like tangerine, apricot and peach). This makes orange a perfect choice for a kitchen. Designed by Andreea Avram Rusu

Vibrant Orange

If you want a friendly, inviting family room, orange is your color: Orange evokes a cheerful feeling. To balance this vibrant hue, consider pairing with cooler colors such as gray. Designed by Pangaea

Creative Orange

Orange represents innovation, which makes it a great choice for spaces where creative work takes place. This office features the best of both worlds, a work hub and a wine room. Designed by Pangaea

Eclectic Orange

This Mexican-style bathroom features hand-painted tiles against a shade of terra cotta. Orange is a flattering color that makes the skin glow. Use subtle shades in the bathroom or other places where you get dressed. Designed by Erica Islas

"Orange has steadily progressed up the ladder of consumer preferences so there's a greater appreciation of the color," says color expert Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of the book Colors for Your Every Mood. "Orange is the child of red and yellow. It gives you the excitement of red, but at the same time, the welcoming, friendly, warm aspect of yellow."

Midcentury Modern in Tango Tangerine

Midcentury Modern in Tango Tangerine

Brightly patterned tangerine wallpaper provides a classic backdrop to this midcentury modern living space. A comfortable white couch and mismatched patterned pillows interrupt the otherwise monochromatic color scheme.

In a bedroom, try a soothing, peach-toned orange that casts a rosy glow on the skin. You can use a pale, dusty orange for a welcoming entry that invites guests into your home.

Orange stimulates your appetite and adds warmth, so it's also a good choice for a dining room or kitchen. Create a backsplash of orange tile, or use orange fixtures to make a kitchen island shine. It doesn't take a lot of orange rev up a room.

"The brighter the orange, the less you need," says color expert Kate Smith. "When you have orange, it's going to draw your eye, so make sure you're using it in locations you want to be noticed."

For a relaxing space, consider mixing apricot with deep browns and grays. If you love the feel of fall, bring the colors of leaves inside with orange, red, brown and gold accents. For those who crave energy and excitement, a combination of bright orange, pink and yellow citrus makes any room a party.

Orange on the Outside

The energy of the hue is perfect when used poolside, for a patio or in an outdoor living room. Instead of red, try a deep orange for your front door.

Use pumpkin-toned hues to highlight architecture on a New England-style Colonial home.

Earthy, sun-baked oranges are a natural fit for desert and Southwestern-style homes.

Ways to Play With Orange in Your Home

  • Use tangerine and hot pink to energize a normally dark room.
  • Orange mixed with denim blue makes a boy's bedroom feel athletic and energetic.
  • Use your favorite orange to add a sense of play to stair risers.
  • Use orange for the shelves and back of bookcases or cubbies to add depth.

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