color theory: best oranges

orangefoyerfinalThe photograph above appeared in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine back in 2003. We love how the orange walls work with the brown grosgrain trim, the dark picture frames, and the crisp white wainscoting. Believe it or not, this is the foyer of our home, reinvented by the editors (thanks Eric and Kevin) of the magazine. At the time, I thought it was too much, and couldn’t wait to paint it back to bird’s egg blue. But lately I’ve been thinking, maybe I should have left it like this…It’s kind of fabulous, don’t you think? Everyone gets stuck when it comes to choosing paint colors. And today there are more colors to choose from than ever before. Now, admittedly, orange is not a safe color choice per se, but in the right space, it can be quite dramatic and wonderful. Inspired by the festivities of this past weekend, below, six tried and true oranges. Go ahead, orange-it up!
colortheoryorange1. Ralph Lauren Ginger (ML04): This color comes from the “Modern Light” collection, which from what we can tell are quiet, light colors designed to have a less dramatic, but still beautiful impact. Check these colors out. If you like subtlety, this is a nicely edited collection of muted colors. Ginger would make a wonderful bedroom paint color.
2. Benjamin Moore Soft Marigold (160): We adore this color , very soft. I used this once in a client’s bathroom with creamy white trim and white, grey trimmed towels and it looked very sophisticated and elegant.
3. Farrow and Ball Orangery (70): The Farrow and Ball experts have documentation of this color existing as far back as the 18th century. While this is a strong orange, it  has an earthiness about it that calms it down. In a room with dark wood bookcases, dark wood furniture, or steel furniture this color will always work well.
4. Benjamin Moore Pumpkin Spice This color really does look like pumpkin pie, and in a kitchen with stainless steel appliances and creamy white cabinets, plus lots of natural light, it’s absolutely wonderful.
5. Donald Kaufman DKC-35: A terra cotta orange that reminds us of worn pots from the garden. It blends really nicely with greens and browns. Great in a sunny room.
6. Farrow and Ball India Yellow (66 ): This pigment was originally produced by reducing the bright yellow urine of cows fed on a special diet of mango leaves. As long as you are okay with that, go ahead and paint away! This is a fabulous color.


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  • Tracy

    Thanks for the recommendations! I actually really like #6! But I’m going to assume they don’t produce the color using the traditional method anymore for my sake. 🙂

  • Janis

    I just painted my dining room Soft Marigold and I love it. I can’t decide what color to paint my living room; there is a hallway between living room and dining room; currently painted grey, but soon to be repainted. Would a warm gold be too much warm? The rug in LR is soft reds with sage green, orange, and very light bluish teal. I’m stumped.

  • jef