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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


Design Inspiration

285 Responses

  1. stretch says:

    Restaurants decorate in orange because the color is known to stimulate the appetite, so if you have a weight problem, pass on the tangerine. I also think you would get tired of it really fast!!!!

  2. Jodie says:

    Jodie, I do not like the color Tangerine.

  3. dollfriend says:

    Sorry to throw a "lemon" in here, but I really like the YELLOW, better! It just sings "SPRING" to me, becauaes it makes me think of daffodils.

  4. Lou Jost says:

    I'm looking for a color for the inside of our new home that will go with all the seasons and all the holidays. From the inside entrance thru the whole house up and down. Can you help?

    • nancy says:

      I like green. Pick a green that is not a pastel, but a little neutralized so it won't be "in your face" and you won't tire of it quickly. I have used two greens in the past that I really loved. First was a sagey-mossy color, very soft and neutral. Now I have a pale key lime color, which is a light yellow-green, but has just a little gray to keep it from being too pastel. Everybody loves it! It's fresh, but soft. Just pick a green that you really love and it will go with anything seasonal.

  5. paulainsc says:

    I like yellow too. It's a happy color (to me). Loveing the Tangerine but …..Yellow..yes!

  6. Steve Donovan says:

    We just did a room in a paint called "Pueblo Sand" that is sort of in the tangerine palette and provided a great background to hang Southwestern Indian sand paintings and prints. It provides a subtle warmth under either direct sunlight or incandescent at night. Looks great with any warm to hot colors. It is a Home Depot Behr paint color. The paint mixer talked us into the slightly more expensive version that needs no primer. It went on great but we have found that it scratches far too easily and even lifted a bit with the masking tape. I don't think we'd use this version again but would apply a primer coat instead first the way we have always done with wall paints. It just doesn't seem to dry hard enough with the one coat which I seem to remember they call "Ultra".

  7. Linda says:

    Nancy, I love green too. My favorite is forest green but I am having trouble finding how to lighten it up so it doesn't feel like a cave. My last attempt turned out to be avocado just like the 70s. Any ideas?

  8. Jacquelyn says:

    Exciting but a little overkill int the bedroom. Opt for the bed woodtone on the bench at the foot of the bed and I think you will have a more relaxed and balanced bedroom setting.

  9. Kat says:

    Initially I winced a bit at the color on the month. I love a little tangerine in my wardrobe, but on walls? Took a few seconds, but I warmed up to it, and I think my new green and white bathroom needs some tangerine towels. Thanks for triggering some flexible thinking. ;-)

  10. Ginny says:

    It's okay for accessories – one or two to a room – but that bedroom is overdone, and the dining room and living room look like someone tried too hard. Makes me jittery to look at them!

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