How to Decorate With Orange Without Gagging



Dear Laurel,

I’ve been enjoying your posts about your new apartment in Boston. I absolutely fell in love with your dark blue and white bathroom. That color scheme makes my heart sing!

Alas, my fiance loves orange. I mean, his apartment has an orange-ish leather sofa and matching chair and an orange accent wall. The rug is beige. And the entire thing looks so horrid.

I see in my future lots and lots of decorating with orange. Please, Laurel. Please tell me how to deal with this.

Thank you,

Violetta Norawnj


Happy Halloween, Everyone!!!


Well, by the time you get this, it’ll be November, and we’ll be on standard time.

However, I figured I better get in my annual post about the color orange, or else it’ll be too late.


The Problem with Halloween Decor


After all, we are now officially in the holiday shopping season.


Therefore, if you’re interested, please check out the brand new Holiday Shop for 2020. It is full of Christmas/Hanukkah decor and gifts for everyone, just about.

Look, I fully understand an aversion to orange. I am a child of the sixties and early seventies. Indeed, I was breastfed orange. And, I was also force-fed Howard Johnson’s and American cheese that came in a big block. Um, that is NOT cheese. It is softened fermented plastic, dyed orange. I have no idea how any of us in the TV dinner generation are still alive.

But, I miss those days.

We were more innocent.

People were kinder.

However, except for a few geniuses like artist Cy Twombly and Albert Hadley, etc., the world of design was largely a bastion of really bad taste.


Take, for instance, the ubiquitous EARLY AMERICAN style, bathed in orange and gold.


You might want to go and grab a pair of shades for a spell.


Please forgive them, Thomas Jefferson.  They have forgotten about your exquisite attention to classical symmetry. But fortunately, your amazing Monticello is looking pretty spiffy these days.

Please see what building from the Renaissance inspired Jefferson’s Monticello.


However, there is nothing early or American about this space above. Ahhh, we are so fond of the bastardized styles of anything from before we were born. Right? Remember this “Phony French Kitchen” post?




We had a sofa like that in the early 70s. I’m not kidding.



No wonder we reel when we think of orange.





mid-century-wall-tile-70sObviously, the use of LSD was a lot more prevalent than we realized.



I used to love that stuff! This must’ve been taken right before they all got neked and smoked pot.



Monochromatic orange decor hell. Apparently this is where they stash prisoners of war to get them to tell their secrets.


Please look at Poor Orange, the Most Misunderstood Color




Okay, it is clear that those of us who were alive back then, why we have an aversion to decorating with orange.


However, orange is actually one of the most classic colors.


And, orange decor  is everywhere.


It’s in wood and leather



Schoolhouse Electric - work hard - leather chairs

Vignette by Schoolhouse Electric.





Steven Gambrel


the sun setting.



And, there are many other colors in the orange family, from pale peach, gold, coral and so forth.


One of my favorite posts is this one about 20 Fabulous Shades of Orange Paint and Furnishings with beautiful examples of how those colors can be used.

Of course, there is lots of orange in art.



Original oil painting by Rachel Uchizono


decorate with orange - Artwork - Anthropologie - adobe orange wall - orange decor
This Adobe orange makes a fantastic backdrop for this decorative art from Anthropologie


nickey-kehoe-curson-beautiful rust-orange velvet sofa - art wall

Nickey-Kehoe interiors. Please check them out too. They have a very interesting slightly Bohemian style of decorating. And they use a lot of orange, as well.


Nicky Kehoe - About


It’s funny. I was reading their about page and as I was reading, I thought I had some shmootz on my screen. But, the cracks and smudges are part of the website. haha


Naples_FSummer Thornton - Interior_Design_Feature - decorate with orangeSummer Thornton uses a lot of orange in her decorating.

We saw more of this fantastic home in this post.


cory-connor-designs-hottest-color-palette-laurel-home-blog-blue-orange - decorate with orange

Cory Connor Designs

Orange as an accent color is a refreshing note, particularly in a dark blue and white room.


white-window-seat-tan-leather-stainless-ottoman-bench-tangerine-ceramic-table-lamps-white-fireplace-black-and-white-prints-white-rug-stripe-cushions-diane-bergeron-hottest-color-palette-laurel-home-blog-blue-orangeDiane Bergeron


Gil Shafer stunning dining room library - with warm color scheme

Gil Schafer’s Greenwich village townhouse. He recently changed the wall color and some other things which you can see here.

Deborah French - orange velvet sofa - orange decor

Another designer who uses a lot of orange in her decor is Deborah French. Please check out her portfolio, here.


degournay mural featuring blue and orangeDe Gournay Mural


Summer Thornton - coral walls - vignette

Another wonderful vignette by Summer Thornton featuring coral walls. I think this is quite a masterful use of color.


@jamestfarmer on instagram - orange decor - Chinoiserie screen

@jamestfarmer on instagram – James is a huge fan of orange decor and uses all its shades in his fantastic rooms.

photo: Jeff Herr


And for more of my favorite James T Farmer rooms please go here.


@jamestfarmer on instagram orange decor - photo: Jeff Herr - decorating with orange

Above is another James T Farmer beauty featuring a red-orange. photo: Jeff Herr


blue and orange color scheme Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection Benjamin Moore Racing orange red


Above, one of the 40 boards from the Laurel Home Paint Palette Collection.


This guide is part of the Laurel Home Paint Color Collection of 144 curated Benjamin Moore Colors. Racing orange red is the reddest shade of orange in the collection. It makes a beautiful backdrop for art and antiques. And, it looks fabulous with blues and greens.


How do you feel about orange now?


There are so many beautiful ways to incorporate orange decor whether it’s in the walls or the furniture. I hope that you enjoyed this post about decorating with orange and got some ideas for how to incorporate orange into your rooms to add beauty.




PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES and HOLIDAY SHOP!


  • Danielle Emery - November 9, 2020 - 9:22 AM

    I adapted your Golden Gate palette for the lower level and painted the entire family room orange (including both sides of the doors which open into guest bedrooms). I used Adobe Dust. I knew it would be mostly covered in photos, furniture and art. It makes the entire area happy and upbeat without being childish or garish. I love it. Can’t wait for my contractor to see the finished project, I think they thought I was out of my mind when I specified the colors!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy W - November 6, 2020 - 4:34 PM

    I was so happy to see this as an orange lover. However, your photos reminded me of decorating phases of orange gone wrong. I recently had 2 armless chairs recovered in an orange velvet which coordinates with my living room rug. An arm chair was done in a leopard that looks smashing with it. Love the art you included.ReplyCancel

  • Morgan - November 3, 2020 - 4:37 PM


    Ugh, I thought the years of telling other women what to do with THEIR voice were behind us.ReplyCancel

  • Morgan - November 3, 2020 - 4:25 PM

    I appreciate that view of the James F. living room with the Nympheus pillows, I’ve never seen that angle before. I have that same fabric as drapes and pillows, and a pair of orange lamps which I think look great, but admittedly was self conscious about because it’s not a beloved color these days!ReplyCancel

  • Nedra Wilson - November 3, 2020 - 3:38 PM

    Orange has never been a favorite color of mine. However it was my mother’s favorite. When she renovated our kitchen she used orange sparingly but dramatically with an Orange tulip table and orange chairs. We were the grooviest family I knew. She almost converted me but not quite.ReplyCancel

  • Linda S Meschke - November 3, 2020 - 12:36 PM

    I have a beautiful square orange leather ottoman with brass nails given to me by a friend. It is the centerpiece of my living room. She had it in her living room, and I must admit, I coveted it for years. I wish I could send a picture, I’d love your comments. Accents colors are an ecru couch and light blue patterned pillows.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Chaisen - November 3, 2020 - 8:27 AM

    Please stop Laurel with orange…esp mixed with blue! The worse combo and so reminds me of football colors..I did like the more stately Greenwich apt and love your site.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - November 2, 2020 - 10:21 PM

    I love orange! Navy and orange is my favorite color combination! Laurel, maybe you know the answer to my question – I love Ina Garten’s orange sofas that are visible in her cooking show. I would love to know where she got them – I’ve asked around but no one seems to know. They are fabulous!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Oliphint - November 2, 2020 - 6:33 PM

    James Farmer is a dream! Here in Alabama we call the red orange that’s used a lot in the Asian accessories we love “pomegranate red”.ReplyCancel

  • john marrs - November 2, 2020 - 2:42 PM

    love orange and James Farmer’s work….I have done a few orange rooms myself! check out my instagram john_phifer_marrs

    Love your blog!!!!
    Keep up the great work!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Echavarria - November 2, 2020 - 2:25 PM

    Several years ago I announced that I “hated” orange. Since then I’ve realized how much I truly love it, especially as an accent inside and outside in my garden. I’m definitely a convert.ReplyCancel

  • Virginia Richards - November 2, 2020 - 1:29 PM

    Well, my dear, you have made me a new fan of orange! Who would have thought????ReplyCancel

  • Lorrie - November 2, 2020 - 10:18 AM

    The color “ORANGE” fan here! LOL, it appears most of the comments above are from orange fans too. Perhaps the non-orange-lovers read and fled ?! Thank you for trying to give the color a more level playing field. Personally, I like to live in a neutral palette. But come fall, I love how my space comes to life with little pops of orange. A little goes a long way! Happy countdown to BOSTON, love your “Orange” fan in Salem, MA 😉ReplyCancel

  • Mary Creighton - November 2, 2020 - 4:17 AM

    “Obviously, the use of LSD was a lot more prevalent than we realized.” That really made me laugh, I always thought there must have been something in the water that caused people to decorate (and live) with all that awful decor!ReplyCancel

  • CentralCoastGal - November 1, 2020 - 11:22 PM

    Orange, glow, so comforting . . . my parents used to take mandarins oranges up to the bedroom at night with hot tea. The amber fire in the wood stove , , , home hearth. Repainting my gathering room in nectarine.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa - November 1, 2020 - 7:45 PM

    I am pretty fond of orange, it’s my “secret” color, secret to me because I never think too hard about using it but it does pop up.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Ward - November 1, 2020 - 7:34 PM

    I have an orange sofa just like the one in the Nickey-Kehoe photo. It can be cold and gloomy in Canada, and this soft cheerful sofa makes me smile every time I see it. The other colors are blue, yellow, red and beige. I love color!ReplyCancel

  • Mary Parker - November 1, 2020 - 3:53 PM

    I love the orange paisley wallpaper at Search for “Maracanda.” I think this would be beautiful in a bathroom.ReplyCancel

  • susie - November 1, 2020 - 2:40 PM

    I can see Hermes orange is the “new” thing.
    I don’t mind orange as an accent in the autumn but otherwise I’m not crazy about orange.ReplyCancel

  • Sheree L - November 1, 2020 - 2:09 PM

    Orange lover here. The examples you show of orange done right really make my heart sing! I especially love the James T Farmer and Summer Thornton rooms. Oh, and the orange sofa in the Deborah French pic may have made me sigh :] I have touches of orange throughout my home in varying shades, mostly leaning toward rust and golden shades, but in the master bedroom, we have some brighter pops of orange. Orange lifts my spirits and makes me smile, so thank you for sharing this post today! I needed it!ReplyCancel

  • Ramona - November 1, 2020 - 12:24 PM

    Confessions: I had an orange and pink silk paisley jumpsuit for my college graduation and I owned an orange car a few years later!!! That was another life imho. This revelation dates me for sure.

    In this incarnation: There is no orange anywhere in my house.

    My attraction to purples/violets/periwinkle has, however, persisted throughout my life.

    I do like reds on the orange side, not the blue, so there is that.

    Funny to the bone. Please get us past this winter Laurel. I am counting on you for beauty as a relief from 2020/2021.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - November 1, 2020 - 12:24 PM

    I actually love almost every shade of orange, from the softest whisper of apricot, to the bold orange on Hermes boxes – just not all at once. But I just seem to gravitate to warmer colors. Some beautiful images of how orange is used in those designers’ work. Thank you, Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Lizzy - November 1, 2020 - 11:13 AM

    Orange in nature, good. Orange in my home, maybe on an accent piece at most.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - November 1, 2020 - 10:10 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    If I had neutral painted walls I would definitely be bringing the out rust colored accents in the Fall. But I think that’s the only time I can embrace any shade of orange.
    My first apartment in the mid-70’s was orange, avocado green & brown.
    I’ve come a long way baby!! 😂ReplyCancel

  • Annie L. - November 1, 2020 - 10:06 AM

    Oh, my gosh! LMAO!! All this “orange” reminds me of a job I did for one of my clients seven years ago. Lordy, it was ORANGE POWER! Tamed it with touches of gold, light walls and lots of blue and white chinoiserie. NOT my thing, but my client loved it! That’s what a designer does or tries to do!

    You are hysterical, Laurel! Your candor is SO freakin’
    Refreshing! Hope you have a fabulous and funny day!ReplyCancel

  • MaryT - November 1, 2020 - 8:20 AM

    Thanks for clearing up why I have such an aversion to orange. It was from the hideous decor trends of my childhood! Still not a fan but I do like it as a smallish pop of color in places and especially with dark blue. Complementary colors do work together after all.ReplyCancel

  • judy - November 1, 2020 - 8:15 AM

    I have always said, I don’t use or care for the color orange in my clothing or decorating. It has always seemed to be too dominate a color for me. Yet, I love Autumn and the colors of this season and I do like the colors of cinnamon, rust, cognac etc. For me, I guess it just depends on the tone and intensity of this color.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Louise - November 1, 2020 - 8:06 AM

    Thank you Laurel! I love orange. It seriously makes me happy. You are such an amazing teacher. The artwork, vignettes,designers…thank you for sharing so much knowledge and creativity. Our dining room is on the list for paint projects. I live in Michigan and there’s no light from November until April! I was debating about what color and now I have the answer. Happy November!?ReplyCancel

  • Abino - November 1, 2020 - 7:07 AM

    Great spin on orange.
    Change your spirit that changes everything!ReplyCancel

  • Paula - November 1, 2020 - 6:58 AM

    I love orange – as an accent. And particularly with blue. I am the first to grab the orange tulips in spring, and in the fall, out come the orange velvet cushions, orange embroidered fabric and candles. This post made me laugh out loud, as I remembered my parents’ love of orange floral upholstery with orange drapes and the orange-hued ‘colonial’ maple furniture. No wonder I moved out at 18. Thanks for this post – it took me down the most wonderful rabbit hole of “French” country kitchens, to Scottish country homes and finally, the Bible of British Taste. A most lovely Sunday read up here in Nova Scotia (where the trees are still…orange).ReplyCancel

  • Nanci - November 1, 2020 - 5:25 AM

    I recently changed the decor in our guest room to a Navy and white bedding and added coral velvet pillows as accents and a tribal rug that had apricot and navy in it. Perfect together. Once I had my dining room painted in a deep pumpkin…was pretty. I like it done wellReplyCancel

  • Marji - November 1, 2020 - 1:57 AM

    Orange leather Italian sofa in our family room. We love it! Thanks for the positive spin on orange! No to the shag rug though LOL!ReplyCancel

  • Tara - November 1, 2020 - 1:37 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Good evening/morning. It’s late here in Houston. I’m a night owl. Happy Halloween!

    I love orange despite being a child of the 60’s and 70’s like you.

    My home office is painted in Sherwin Williams Quite Corral balanced with SW Roycroft Pewter and dark brown tracery closed bookcases. I like it… it’s better than the wimpy beige I’d tried.

    You had me laughing out loud with this paragraph:
    “ Indeed, I was breastfed orange. And, I was also force-fed Howard Johnson’s and American cheese that came in a big block. Um, that is NOT cheese. It is softened fermented plastic, dyed orange. I have no idea how any of us in the TV dinner generation are still alive.”

    Indeed!! I’ve had so many slices of that cheese it’s astonishing. I get our cheese from the deli now…

    Anyhow, I loved that post you did on all the orange rooms.

    My souls requires at least one red or orange pop in every room. It’s life-giving, imho.

    Thank you for letting us opine.

    Take care,

  • Ana Maria - November 1, 2020 - 1:31 AM

    I’ve always liked orange. Currently, I have Hermès orange boxes in my Family Room being used as risers. I also have an Hermès throw over an armchair.
    Another of my passions are French Confit Pots. Some feature a strong yellow that reads orange. I have several incorporated into my blue and white kitchen and I’ve received much positive feedback.
    And of course, I love your blog, appreciate your vast decor knowledge and love your humor!ReplyCancel