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When talking color for February, red, pink and white are always at the top of the list—thanks to Valentine’s Day. What I really want for February isn’t a romantic cliche but a mood brightener, something to balance out these gray, cold days.

We kicked off this month’s debate with three strong contenders: sunny yellow, springy violet and a citrusy tangerine.

Since so many of our editors were traveling during our scheduled meeting time, we took the conversation to email — and the lack of face-to-face time let the gloves come off. After days of impassioned arguments, gorgeous images and lots of emails that started out like, “Well, Lonny said…”, it came down to a tie between yellow and tangerine.

yellow and tangerine paint swatches

To break the tie, I turned to our pal Brian Patrick Flynn, sending him images of the paint swatches. Here’s what he said.

“Tangerine. It’s totally underused and can be so gorgeous with white or cream. Yellow makes me wanna punch an angel.”

Tangerine it is! And we’re not alone in loving it. Lonny Magazine named it one of spring’s hottest colors for 2011, while Stylecaster gave it a fashionable spin as spring’s hottest lip color (though the shade we chose is more subdued—Olivia Wilde’s pout not Chloe Sevigny’s).

tangerine mood boardHavana Place Mats, Horchow; C2 Tangerine paint swatch, House Beautiful; handmade pillows, Etsy; Working Practice: Ghada Amer at Cheim & Read, 1stdibs (warning: some of this stuff is racy); tangerine Fiestaware, amazon.com

The thing I love about this color is how one piece can brighten a room, like the Hermes box in Barbara Barry’s office:

barbara barry's office

I also love how, for a bright, it plays well with so many other colors, from pink to aqua to grass green. Tobi Fairley loves this shade and uses it in tons of designs:

Tobi Fairley Melon Buffet

Tobi Fairley Orange Bedroom

Read Brian Patrick Flynn’s interview with Tobi Fairley

And look how divine it is with gray, warming a color that might otherwise be bland. Simultaneously masculine and feminine. Love!

Tangerine and Gray Dining Room - Traditional HomeDining room, Traditional Home

orange and gray living roomLiving room, Bright Bazaar

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