The Color Orange Works Best in Small Amounts

If you want to use the color orange in your home, you need to understand all of its nuances. Orange can range from a subtle off-white to apricot, bittersweet to brown.

It is a secondary color in the spectrum being created through the mixture of red and yellow. What this means is that whether it has an abundance of red in it or an abundance of yellow, orange is always a warm color. It also combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow, making orange the true color of joy and playfulness.

An interesting tidbit about orange is that for centuries, there wasn’t a word to express the color orange.  It began with the introduction of the fruit in the 10th or 11th century, but it didn’t describe anything other than the fruit until nearly the 17th century.  Think about it, we still call orange items other names, like someone with “red” hair, clay is called red clay, or the orange fish called a goldfish!?

The Color Orange 1Let’s talk about orange in the home. Orange has a strong orientation toward food. Think about spices, mangoes, peaches, carrots, yams, baked and crunchy foods, all in the orange family.  This does make us associate orange with comfort and you’ll find that it is a perfect color for a kitchen. Orange’s positive characteristics help to create a welcoming atmosphere for the “heart of the home” and it stimulates the appetite – what could be more perfect?  I love seeing the orange accent wall in this contemporary kitchen found on The Kitchen Dahab site. However, a warning label should come with pure orange. Too much of bright orange can lead to overstimulation and can result in the opposite of the desired relaxation and comfort. Therefore, the accent wall makes perfect sense!

The Color Orange 2If we tone orange down and look at the varieties of peach, salmon, and mango, it becomes more widely accepted. These delicate versions are good choices for bedrooms, walk-in closets, and bathrooms. We’ve talked about how the light in a room will reflect the wall color onto a person or items in the room, so consider the effect of a warm peachy glow on your skin…that’s right, it is fabulous! I found this very feminine bathroom photo at

The Color Orange 3Just like peach, a toned down version of orange, the spice tones are more readily accepted than orange itself. The spice tones, like paprika, red pepper and cinnamon are often found in kitchens, dens and in this dining room from These warm earthy hues give the feeling of coziness and warmth which is both inviting and inspiring. Warm hues give rise to conversation and happiness, making them perfect for the public spaces in your home.

The Color Orange 4Taking orange even further down in saturation brings us to the myriad of browns, one of my favorite color families. When you mention browns, it does include the beiges which are simply light browns, medium browns like chestnut, and deep chocolate browns or coffee browns. What is interesting about the brown family is that in our homes, often there is an abundance of brown from wooden floors, doors and trim, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and wooden case pieces in furniture. No wonder the whole family of beiges looks great within the surroundings of a home. Entire rooms coated in chocolate can be soothing and contemplative. Add sparkle by filling the walls with paintings or black and white photos, contrast with light painted trim and use mid-tone upholstery as in the photo above from Lighting will be key but oh so dramatic! Browns are perfect for studies, dens even hallways.  Use softer beiges just about anywhere for a serene and comfortable look. These lighter tones will need texture and pattern to make them exciting, or play them off of a brighter hue. Amazingly, brown can work with almost any other color in the spectrum, as is evidenced every day in nature!

The Color Orange 5Here’s a great group of oranges from that would be lovely in a kitchen, but let’s take a look at some other interesting facts about orange.  Orange is the most optimistic color in the spectrum. It is so uplifting that is would behoove you to bring orange into your life, even if it is just orange post its! It’s optimism makes it a great color to use in tough economic times, in situations where you need to feel motivated, or when someone is in the dumps it can help them look on the bright side of life.

For those few of you with orange as a favorite color, you are the friend to have! Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is warm, optimistic and good-natured? You like to socialize and are probably a partier – even planning all the events – and being the loudest person in the room! You may not be there to clean up afterwards though, since housekeeping isn’t all that important to you.

If you are looking to use orange on a product or in business, it gives off a lively and enthusiastic feel along with a look of affordability. Many restaurants employ orange or muted tones of it to increase your appetite and encourage conversation, and your favorite detergent may be covered in orange to imply the power to clean!

So, there you have it – the many faces of orange. Be careful how you use it when it is full strength, but when toned down it can work nearly everywhere.



  1. Diane G. says

    Do you possibly know the color of that ‘spicy’ dining room? I checked her site but didn’t find it. Thanks!

    • Shari Hiller says

      Hi Diane, did you see if there was a place on her site to contact her? You might be able to find out that way. On the Sherwin-Williams fan deck, it looks very close to Spicy Hue, SW 6342.

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