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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. Cindy says:

    We (the family) picked a Tangeriney color last fall to paint in the apt. for our son. He loves orange as a color, has worn it since Kindergarten. Picked Orange Toffee for one area, Marsh Green and Tempered Sage for another, and Nautical for the bath. They look fabulous!

  2. elizabethlinn says:

    Very inspiring! I have been looking for a color to paint my front door. I have a cottage of light gray with dark gray shutters and roof, white trim on the windows. The front door opens into my living room of various shades of blue with jewel tone accents. What do you think?

    • DJ Miles says:

      Elizabethlinn, so sorry, I inadvertently put your reply on Sweet one plum 2000, new at this! As I replied there, yes! A bright and pure tangerine/orange on your front door, in high gloss, will make for the most welcoming and spirited door in your neighborhood. With all your grays….wow! Bet you cannot wait for spring!

  3. Tahani Gunal says:

    I love the colors! I just posted some additional colour scheme images on my blog! And Paint color numbers in case you want to go buy similar paints..

    Check out <a href="http://www.aretedesign.blogspot.com” target=”_blank”>www.aretedesign.blogspot.com for more fun design inspiration!

  4. VacantonTuesday says:

    I love these 2 colors together. Theres nothing better then starting with fresh clean bright colors to bring in the spring and warm weather. Theres nothing wrong with thinking that way in this cold month!

  5. Sweet1plum2000 says:

    I have a large room with 15 ft ceilings, and a lot of natural light from windows. I have this color on the walls. What accent color can I put in the pillows and accessories? I have no other color except warm brown floors and warm cognac brown furniture. I need help with this if anyone has any ideas? I thought of Teal? Navy Blue? I love the creamy white with it as my accent paint color and will keep that. I don't what white accessories though. Lime Green? The room is casual family room with a fireplace. Thanks for any ideas.

    • elizabethlinn says:

      Why don't you try another lighter shade since your floors and furniture are dark. I think something in the turquoise family would be great for spring/summer while red or cranberry would look great in the fall/winter months. :)

    • DJ Miles says:

      oops~Sorry Sweet1plum, I misplaced this comment, but have the hang of this now. As for your room, lucky you~15 ft ceilings! And I'm thinking a few spots of a hot strawberry pink will be so fun. I live in Arizona, so these combos are seen in our deserts as well as our home fashion haunts. The oranges, hot pinks, turquoises and plums are so bright and beautiful together, even if softened in value, be it in fabric or accessories. Go for it and enjoy the hunt!

  6. [...] Lili, our senior decorating editor, “I’m pushing for bright yellow again, angel-punching be d*@$ed! It’s so perfect for spring.” Our Shaw Floors color consultant, Emily, agrees with Lili: [...]

  7. [...] Lili, our senior decorating editor, “I’m pushing for bright yellow again, angel-punching be d*@$ed! It’s so perfect for spring.” Our Shaw Floors color consultant, Emily, agrees with Lili: [...]

  8. D J Miles says:

    Elizabethlinn~ YES! Your front door in a bright and beautiful tangerine, ultra glossy, of course. This will be the most welcoming and spirited door in your neighborhood and with all your grays……wow!

  9. KTTC says:

    Tangerine is a beautiful color paired with gray, and if you love the color, but don't want to use too much of it, try pops of tangerine around the room in small accents, also add turquoise accents with the tangerine to brighten it up even more! And finally, add both turquoise and tangerine in the window fabric. These color combinations would be wonderful in Florida, very tropical!

  10. Janet W says:

    tangerine…so great. I would love to paint my kitchen with it

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