Retro Renovation 2011 Color of the Year: Orange

1960s orange chairsYou know I think that “Color of the Year” proclamations by Marketeers are baloney — they are just trying to sell this year’s color to replace last year’s color. So, instead, I’ll point to a color from our mid century past that was pretty darn good enough all along: Retro Renovation First Annual Color of the Year: Orange. There’s plenty of vintage available in this color — give it a look and if you like it, snatch it up for a fraction of what it would cost to buy new accessories in whatever “today’s must-have color” is. Of course, my fundamental color advice is: Use whatever color you like. Colors are wavelengths of energy and affect people differently. Find the ones that tickle your electrons and don’t look back.

vintage bargello pillowsWhy orange? Well, it’s just continued to grow on me these past 9 years of living in my mid century house. It is a color that plays very nice with others: Orange looks good with blue in a midcentury interior. Orange looks good with green. Orange looks good with pink — yes, it does! And with banana, of course. Orange you glad I said banana?

vintage afghanOrange is a dynamic color — often called “the color of change”.  It can be brought into an interior pretty easily. All the photos above are from my living room — as you can see, I’ve brought in orange with textiles like my beloved vintage bargello needlepoint pillows. Oh – and I guess those 1960s chairs have a bit of orange in the upholstery. When I bought them at an estate sale, the chairs had slip covers on them. I peeked under and – bingo! – it was orange velveteen stripes for me! I also have some orange Stangl. Isn’t my vintage afghan gorgeous? All the handiwork that went into it — my! — and I got it an estate sale for like $10. These things are out there — they are Golden Treasures!

bowling alley countertopIf you want to be more bold, orange can be used as a paint color to create a graphic interior: See these posts about the bowling alley countertop and this kitchen.

I also have spotted kitchen cabinets available in orange — see my post on these “Mod Squad” (as I call them) cabinet doors. If I had the house for these — I would do it in a heartbeat!

vintage orange leather coatOf course, what’s good on the inside (of your house) is also fab when you’re out on the town. Maybe I need this 1960s vintage orange leather coat from Retro Genie’s after all.

Are you decorating with orange in your home? If, so how?


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  1. says

    Hi! I love mid-century and I’m so excited to have found this web site. I love orange and have been using in the house for the last several years. I was introduced to the fifties look through my husband 20 years ago. We have had many a fun road trip looking for anything deco through googie 50’s. It pairs great with danish modern too.

  2. Brandi says

    We have turquoise and orange for our kitchen. I chose the Sherwin William’s ‘Holiday Turquoise’ to offset my beloved ‘Tangerine’ Kitchen-aide mixer 🙂

    I also painted my living room in Sherwin William’s ‘Stirring Orange’, it is a very nice mellow orange with a touch more yellow than red.

    I love that orange is the color of the year! I can’t wait to see what else pops up in orange on this website!

  3. says

    I totally dig orange. My parents’ house in the ’70s was very groovy. An orange halfbath, the family room had little square orange table with black legs, black short-fur davenport with long fur hot throw pillows in bright pink and orange, a side table with sliding doors painted purple and orange. It was a happenin’ place. We recently redid our entire living room because we never used it. My vision was a cross between ’60s mid-mod cool and a little ’70s wow. A nice slightly spicy orange did the trick nicely. Photos shortly after new furniture arrived are here.

  4. Lynne says

    I forgot to mention in my post yesterday morning that my front door is painted orange. I don’t know how I let that little fact get by, because that orange front door was one thing that made we want to buy this house!

  5. Nancy Burton says

    Pam- I would love to receive the color card & information from Lindsay as I cannot find the colors she suggested.
    Thanks so much!
    Who knew I was choosing the color for 2011?!

    • pam kueber says

      wow, foliosus, you got you some orange and with an avocado wallpaper focal wall, too! is that an avocado fridge? can i feature these on the blog some day soon?

      • says

        What a cool home you have! Love all the orange and the great wallpaper in the dining room…and oh yeah, really love the yellow dinette set!

  6. says

    Orange has been *my* color of the year for as long as I can remember. Thankfully I realized it’s not such a complement to my skin and have switched from orange sweaters to vintage orange chairs. I have at least 6, most of them velvet. They look gorgeous in our 1961 mini-ranch, thankfully! I blame my parents for this deep-rooted love of orange: my childhood bedroom was delightfully decorated in brick orange shag carpet with bright yellow walls and brick orange, bright yellow, and kelly green ABC wallpaper. It obviously left quite an impression.

  7. says

    I have always loved orange and the same friends who can’t understand my fascination with a pink bathroom, can’t understand my fascination with orange. I have avocado painted walls in my living room with orange in my furniture and a few accessories. Where I really get to show it off is in one of the bedrooms dedicated to all things Harley Davidson. Both my husband and I ride Harleys and anyone who knows Harleys knows they’re all about orange and black. Up until moving into our 1954 ranch two and a half years ago, that was the only place I could get away with an orange room. Now I’ve thrown caution to the wind and drug that orange right on out to the living room and never get tired of looking at it!

  8. Martuni says

    I have an orange design dilemma.

    My hubby and I are in the process of creating a TV/media room in our upstairs sunroom, on a fairly tight budget. Although our home is vintage 1913 craftsman this room will be decorated totally in the MCM. I will decorate with vintage Platner coffee and side tables (thanks mom!), the ubiquitous flat screen housed on a large Ikea wall unit and the walls, drapes, shag area rug and L shaped sofa will be in neutral beige tones or warm grays. The fun begins with the orange and pink accent colors inspired by the iconic 60’s movie poster from “The Endless Summer”

    I’m normally not afraid of color. I’ve got a red/green/white vintage style kitchen, a lot of bold color throughout every room in the house but I’m a bit afraid of orange. This is a small but bright room, where I’ll be spending a lot of time. Do I want to keep the accent colors to throw pillows/afghan, the framed poster and various nick nackage or do I really need/want a big pop of orange? I’ve got my eye on a fab new orange plastic Eames arm chair as I need the extra seating. I do have a vintage neutral colored upholstered “shell chair” (another style Eames but it’s gray/beige. Thanks again mom!) . I could use that neutral chair and buy the shag rug in orange. Which would save me some $$. But the rug would be an even larger pop of orange. I could also buy a very similar knock off “Eamish” style pastel pink plastic arm chair (which is a little bit cheaper than the real Eames) but isn’t such a strong color.

    Oye how much orange it too much orange?

    • pam kueber says

      That Endless Summer poster is terrific. I don’t know that there is a way to help online. It seems like you have a great design sense — you are very attuned to each element of the room. In general, I would say, layer your orange a bit at a time … until you get it right. Then, take one thing out. Just like that old saying about accessorizing. My question about the Eames chairs — are they sufficiently comfy for a TV room? In my house, we all settle in like bona fide vintage couch potatoes — we need our comfy cozy, heck, I’m on the floor with pillows – which would mean: shag rug there for sure! Good luck, send me a pic when you’re ready for prime time.

      • Martuni says


        Re the comfort level; we’re only seating myself and my husband most of the time. I’m planning on purchasing an L shaped sofa for the two of us to share. Plenty of room for both of us to stretch out and room to seat 4, possibly 5 if need be. The room is small, only 9′ by 14′ and we’re not planning on using it much for entertaining. Mostly it’s for the two of us to cuddle up and watch the tube. However, I do have room for a chair and wanted to have the extra seating just in case. And I’m totally in love with this chair. I’ve wanted one since I was a kid. It feels almost like a piece of sculptural art to me. Yes, they aren’t super comfortable. I wouldn’t want to watch a three hour movie while seated in one. At some point I will replace it when I inherit my mother’s Eames lounge chair/ottoman. Now that chair is super comfy. Another reason to think about the chair in orange; what am i going to do with it when I do obtain an replacement? It really won’t work anywhere else in the house. The old form over function, heart vs head , pretty vs practical dilemma. So I’m going to take your advice and start with a bit of orange and then see where that leads.

        I’ll send pics when we’ve got it done sometime this Summer.

  9. says

    What timing! Most of my life I hated orange. I like color in general but I really couldn’t stand orange of any sort. Sometime about 9 years ago, orange started growing on me, I think I was pregnant with our first child and your tastes can change unexpectedly. Gradually orange started creeping into my wardrobe in the form of pumpkin and spice and tangerine. It joined the partnership of dark greens with light blues. I knit myself my first pair of socks last year out of yarn I dyed myself – sort of a burnt orange color. Just before Christmas my kids asked me what my favorite color was, they are always asking, and I finally said orange!

    I have yet to put orange in the house but I have the fabric – a bit of orange is going to make a splash in our all white bathroom. And I have seriously contemplated putting up orange slice wallpaper inside my dark kitchen cabinets.

    p.s. When I was about 10 I had a neon orange coat with bright white fake fur trim. I’m sure I hated it but I have to remember it fondly now, seeing the leather one above!

  10. JefferyK says

    I spent the holidays in Mexico City and was blown away by the colors. Basics like towels come in incredible shades of pink, red, and orange, shades I’ve never seen in the U.S. The most perfect burnt orange ever.

    • pam kueber says

      I wonder if it has something to do with the bright sun — the further south you go you need strong bright colors or else they wash out???

      • JefferyK says

        The light is definitely different there. I passed on the colorful towels because I was worried that the colors wouldn’t look as fabulous up here in San Francisco. But they were wonderful eye candy!

  11. Laura says

    Well, it’s nice to know that even if I am a preservationist, I’m still ahead of the curve!

    I painted my back hall entry “Mimosa”. This incidentally is the part of my 1930’s house that I believe was added in the 1960’s and I’ve decorated it with that in mind.

    And, I found a vintage pair of Ethan Allan chairs at ReStore which I had every intention of recovering – until I got them home. I think they look grand! I think the lady kind of questioned my taste because she said “Those orange ones?” when I went over to pay for them. $15 each!

  12. says

    I love orange! When we moved into our latest home, perhaps inspired by moving to the Netherlands and their official House of Orange, we ended up using quite a bit of orange in our decorating. The guest room on the top floor got some orange on the beams and trim and door, etc.

    We also painted one wall in the living room the same orange. It goes perfectly with our yellow sofa and the brown and orange fabric I found at the local fabric market.

    I´m so glad a friend posted a link to your site. It´s gorgeous and full of inspiration!

  13. says

    You know, I don’t have any orange in my home, but after seeing this post, I sure think I should. I did just pick up some adorable vintage orange juice glass with little oranges printed on them and they make me so happy. I think you have to smile when you see an orange room… I’m craving this color (and a glass of OJ)!

  14. Annalee W says

    Darn it!! Just last summer (after 35 years) my children finally talked me into changing my kitchen color away from ORANGE to taupe. My daughter convinced me, “taupe goes with every thing, Mom.” I had changed many colors in my kitchen over the years because Orange does go with everything, but I’d always kept my favorite color — Orange. Needless to say, I am not happy with taupe. It may go with everything, but ‘taupe everything’ is not near as bright and happy as “orange everything”. I’m sending a link to this post to my daughter!!!!!! Please keep showing us the wonderful color combinations that go so well with ORANGE…..

  15. Kathy Pool says

    I’m finally brave enough to post after going from the first time capsule of 2014 to the Brady Bunch orange countertops to the Bittersweet comments. My 1951 house: we enlarged the kitchen and added another dining area. I’ll have to send photos. The walls are Benjamin Moore Oriole. I was hesitant to send photos of my remodel because I used stainless appliances instead of retro…plus I didn’t want to read anyone hating my orange walls!

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