Color of the Month—Orange, 2017

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Color of the Month, Feature

On the Scene for 2018

Years ago there was one house I would walk by that always left its shades up at night to expose a big orange wall in the living room. It was impossible to miss, and more than that, it made me want to know more about the people who lived there and why they painted the room Florida Sunshine Orange. It turned the most mind-your-business walker into a nosy neighbor.

The answer to “why” is probably a lot different now than it was those 30 years ago. It’s hard to miss how colors have been trending bolder, brighter, darker—whatever they’re doing, they’re moving! Where does that leave orange? We had a lot of folks weigh in on this one: who would want it, and why?


Sophisticated Whimsy

2018 could turn out to be a big year for this color, whether you use it for quirkiness or complexity, predicts Ashley Banbury, Senior Designer at Pratt & Lambert. “For 2018, you’re going to see orange trending from fashion to home interiors—it was a prevalent color on the Spring 2018 runways, which will influence color in a home,” she said. “You will see pops of orange being incorporated in accessories from pillows to wall paint.” You may see it in small doses to compliment shades of blue, she noted, but it will also be used monochromatically, where an entire room will use different shades of orange from chairs to walls.

There are lots of ways to combine it to keep a smile on someone’s face. “Red and yellow are mixed together to create orange; yellow itself is a natural warm color that invokes happiness,” she reminded us. “Trending oranges are going to be slightly darker and muted. You will see different shades of orange, some showing a little more of a yellow undertone and some reading more red.” Pair it with blues and mustard yellow to complement those shades, or pair it with navy and red for a bold sophisticated look.

Your way to selling orange may be to show customers these different uses of the color, focusing on how it blends into a 2018 scheme as described above. But first, see how they react—don’t shove it down their throat. “It’s always important to get an understanding of what colors a customer gravitates towards,” Banbury recommends. And remind your grown-up customers that it’s OK to have some fun. “Orange connects people and is a color that is vibrant and inviting,” she described. “Because it combines the cheerfulness of yellow and stimulation of red, it’s a social color that gets people to think and it sparks conversation!”


Add Some Pulp

Hannah Yeo, Benjamin Moore Color and Design Expert, continues with some ways to juice up interest in orange. “Brighter shades are certainly appropriate for kids’ rooms or in commercial spaces, while muted oranges can have a sophisticated look,” she said. “Place it against browns and grays for a cozy, comforting color scheme. Natural wood and metal accents are also great way to infuse into toasty hues.” Still not sure? Start off with some small accents: chairs, table, or front door. “You’ll be surprised how versatile it can be,” said Yeo. You might just surprise those customers who previously ruled it out.

Yeo isn’t surprised, and neither are we after all we’ve heard, that warmer colors are en vogue. The Halloween-Thanksgiving season gives orange a boost—hues from burnt umber to bright orange evoke harvest time. For a year-round orange, pairing it with different hues keeps it fresh and appropriate. “Whites, yellows and young greens with a dose of pale orange signifies spring. Brighter oranges against blue are energetic for hot beach weather,” she said.

“Orange in the home will stay muted, but at the same time, brighten up a bit,” she predicts. “If last year was a warm cognac to terracotta hue, this year the oranges are richer and more saturated—think of exotic spices or ripe papaya. Vibrant yet deeply rooted, these bitter orange hues bring life into any living space.”

For a business, orange might be just the thing to keep customers coming back! “Zesty orange accents will continue its use in commercial spaces,” she said. “A little glimpse of intense orange against all white or all black is undeniably eye catching. The drama it creates transforms a space into an experience.”


Branching Out

Dee Schlotter, Senior Color Marketing Manager at PPG, notes that there are quite a few shades of the color in PPG’s 2018 Global Color Forecast, but not the orange you might expect. “All of the trending oranges in our 2018 forecast are not what most would see as a ‘true’ orange—the happy, bright, energizing hues. The trending oranges actually lean more towards pink hues and are trending in matte and metallic finishes,” she said.

Dee agrees with our other color experts that orange is being seen differently; these new shades are giving it the ability to succeed where it may have been overlooked before. “While the top trending colors for 2018 are darker hues, like the PPG Paints™ 2018 Color of the Year, Black Flame (PPG1043-7), softer, more pinkish-orange hues are trending for 2018 and offer a balance and grounding effect. Although these colors still can evoke happiness, they are less energizing and less distracting than a traditional orange color,” she said.

Take a tour through the PPG Paints 2018 Global Color Forecast and you’ll notice that shift. The colors vary from muted, faded oranges that lean toward a light pink—such as Pale Taupe (PPG1073-3), Bermuda Sand (PPG1074-3), and Suntan (PPG1068-4)—to more saturated, sun-scorched tones and darker brownish-oranges—like Cranapple (PPG1190-5), Summer Sunset (PPG1192-6), or Apple Brown Betty (PPG1062-2). “These shades are toned down versions of orange—as I like to say, we’ve taken the edge off—meaning they are invigorating, but are more modern versions of the clean oranges we saw years ago,” said Schlotter.

Your way to sell this idea, she adds, is to educate and discuss by showing customers new shades and their applications in inspirational photos. They more they explore, they more they might consider orange as a legitimate option. “A customer may want something attention-grabbing and inviting, which orange can exude,” said Schlotter. “However when orange is a recommendation, customers likely think of the traditional, child-like color and may not want the bright, distracting shade. For this scenario, having the names and swatches of trending oranges can open their eyes to different shades that still meet their expectations—but with an unexpected color.”


Disco is Back

How Deep is Your Love” for Orange? The ’70s are influencing 2017, opines Mary Lawlor, Manager of Color Marketing at Kelly-Moore. Browns will be the dominant neutral in 2018, she pointed out, which is good to make sure orange is “Stayin’ Alive.” “This introduces muddied colors like burnt orange into the palette, however, brighter oranges will remain to keep the palette fresh,” she said.

“For a seasonal entry door try a muted darker orange like Pumpkin Pie (HLS4306),” Lawlor suggests. “Keep those pass thru areas like laundry rooms or hallways accented with brighter oranges like Deagsy (KM5401) and Candied Yams (KM5343.)”

Since it’s a happy color, orange can keep the “Good Times” going. “It’s perfect as an accent for someone unsure about adding color to a room. It is timelessly uplifting when used sparingly, as in the back of a cabinet or in stripes on a small wall,” Lawlor concluded.



The beauty of orange is that in many cases it’s unexpected. “Orange for interiors and exteriors tends to be applied as an accent and then heavily influenced by reds, browns and gold,” said Sandy Agar-Studelska, Marketing Manager at Diamond Vogel Paint. “Consumers looking for inspired color reach for colors influenced by orange as they are welcoming and connect so well with nature.” Often, a little goes a long way. “The larger-than-life personality of orange can add a dramatic element to a space, but usually in small doses as it can overwhelm.” Today’s oranges, she noted, are trending darker, saturated and influenced by reds and browns.

Combining orange with a neutral is a great way to kick a room into high gear. “With the popularity of neutrals like gray, many homeowners want accent colors that coordinate well with neutrals. Even dark neutrals and orange-influenced colors are a great choice,” she said.

Outside it can also make a statement, and Sandy pointed to a trend toward rust or cinnamon, especially for front doors (see photo, far left). “Orange is a great color for an exterior front door as it offers a happy and welcoming vibe,” she concluded.


Bridging the Gulf

Emmett Fiore, Senior Color Strategist at Fine Paints of Europe, states that orange is heating up. “Orange is going bolder and off the center line, skewed either to the yellower or redder side,” he observed. “Its brightness makes it a very effective, fun accent color that becomes even brighter when juxtaposeed with shades of grays, blue, brown, and even black.”

Some of us are still recovering from our orange history, he says. Gulf gas station signs have given people a perception of orange that they’re just now coming to terms with—they’re finally breaking free, and the younger generation in particular is leaving the Gulf behind.

“They’ve been weaned on those signs their entire lives and they feel the image problem,” said Fiore. “These are powerful associations and it’s time for a change. Orange, the color of enlightenment, is the perfect venue for their mission statement, so it is being reinvented (skewed off that center line, swerving away from the Gulf station), repossessed, and used creatively by many new companies and individuals to get their message across.

Behold! A new orange and a bold, new generation of orange lovers.”

Perhaps that one house in the old neighborhood was just ahead of its time. Hopefully they haven’t repainted!


Room by Room

We gave color expert and consultant Kristin Summer (of Colors With Kristin in the Boston, MA area), a challenge: how would she use orange in various situations? Or…would she try it at all? Color makes a difference, even past what the eye sees. “Choosing the correct colors for your environment is essential to your health,” she says. “Colors make you feel. They have a strong healing element. Color is one of the key elements of creating energy in a room or space.” Here’s her take on orange in a variety of spaces:

• In a small bathroom: I could see it in a burnt orange, super bold and fun. The powder room should be fun! I’ve done some of my most fun murals in the powder room. One older woman had me do a scene like it was inside a French dance studio—you could see the Eiffel Tower out one of the windows, and lots of drapes in the room. She wanted a full-size painting of her in a tutu—and she was a rather large woman! Her leg was flung over the ballet bar…it was awesome.

• How about a full size bathroom? I would only use orange as an accent, with a teal as your main color. Shades of blue are my “go to” color for the bathroom (if we have to use a blue-grey we can), because I always feel like a bathroom with a shower/tub should be soothing.

• Funeral home: So not, unless we were doing a sky on the ceiling and incorporated small areas of orange.

• Stately bedroom: only if the stately room had a lot of “stately wood” to counter-balance!

• Coffee house: that would be cool, but you’d need to balance the orange out with a lot of brown.

• Home entry: definitely, if it’s a Tuscan style house in a coral shade.

Candy store: Great idea! Orange can make you hungry, so it is a wonderful idea in a candy store, with black, which will intensify the orange.

• Ceilings: I always use orange when I’m painting skies on ceiling for the drama it brings. Usually just a touch, so as not to take away the soothing effect of the blue sky. But it will just give it a little kick around the edge of the room with some yellow.