Behind the Color Orange

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

Original_Kitchen-Countertops-Cabinets-Jennifer-Gilmer_s4x3 Photo courtesy of Jennifer Gilmer

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.


"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."

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.

Next Up

Orange-Packed Office

Inspired by her favorite color, design coordinator Crystal Hopkins turns a guest room into a creative, multipurpose space featuring different tones of orange.


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