Orange Color: What Does Orange Symbolize?

Orange is a strong and dynamic color that can bring vibrancy to your interior design. Orange is not an immediate “go-to” color for most people as they fear it will quickly dominate the space. When softened with tints of brown or gray, orange becomes something subtle and glowing rather than vivid or domineering. Even in these muted forms, the orange color is just the antidote for cold and drab spaces.

What is the Color Orange?

Orange color

Orange is a color on the visible spectrum of light, located between red and yellow. You can achieve the color orange by mixing red and yellow in various proportions, but the orange color is also present as a natural pigment in many varieties. The color orange is visible throughout the natural world. Orange things such as plants, fruit, and animals like tigers, carrots, flowers, and autumn leaves feature glorious and varied shades of orange. The orange we see in flowers, plants, and trees is due to the presence of carotene, a photosynthetic pigment. These pigments allow the plants to capture the sun’s rays and turn them into chemical energy for food.

Natural occurrences of the color orange are by far more vivid than combinations of yellow and red. Ancient Egyptians created orange paint for tomb paintings from the mineral realgar, an arsenic sulfide. Artists continued to use natural pigments for orange paint until the creation of synthetic orange pigments in the early 1800s.

The English word for orange is named after the fruit of the same name. We derive the English word from the Old French word orange, named after the early word for the fruit, pomme d’orange.

Symbolism of Orange

The color orange is a powerful and vibrant color that has deep meaning for cultures across the world.


Many cultures see orange as the color of transformation because of its position between red and yellow. People associate red with passion and energy and yellow with intellect, wisdom, and knowledge. These seemingly opposite ideas are complementary to one another. Orange is the combination of these two colors and represents the midway point or balance between the two, the movement from one into the other.


Orange is the color of the saffron-dyed robes that Hindu and Buddhist monks and holy men wear. The shade of orange will vary according to the type of natural dye used and the specific school of religion, but the robes signify spiritual awakening. When you see people dressed in saffron orange robes, it shows that they have renounced the outside world to seek enlightenment.


The color orange is highly visible and stands out from the azure earth tones of much of the natural world. This is the reason it is common to see orange clothing on road workers, lifeguards, and prisoners. Orange is also visible in dim light and fog, so it is a common color for safety gear like life vests, life rafts, and buoys. There is even a particular shade of orange that we know as “safety orange.”

Energy and Warmth

Orange is a strong color that we associate with energy and warmth; think of a cozy fire or brilliant autumn leaves and you will start to see why. Orange is also the natural complement to the color blue which we consider a cool and calm color. Orange represents vitality in all its shades. Certain scientific studies have shown that the color orange is associated with an increased heart rate, which can signify excitement.

Fun and Creativity

Orange is the color we most associate with amusement and creative pursuits. This is likely because of its bold and cheerful presence. Scientific studies have measured the effect of the orange colour on cognition. Some have found that people who are exposed to orange perform better in these cognitive tasks and use creative strategies to solve problems.

Using Orange in Interior Design

Using Orange in Interior Design

Orange can be an overwhelming color, but if you use it in the right way, orange can energize and activate your interior design.

Find the Right Shade

As with every color, orange colors have a wide range. From dusty peaches and brilliant color to vibrant carrot and burnt sienna, orange colors are as distinct as they are varied. Consider the type of feeling you want to create in your room. Oranges with gray undertones are soft and muted. This doesn’t mean that the color is not warm, just that the gray stops it from being as overpowering as natural orange. Oranges with brown undertones will deepen the color to give you a burnt sienna or cinnamon.

Use it as an Accent Color

Using orange on the walls is not for the faint of heart. Add orange as an accent color if you want to utilize the energetic qualities of orange but don’t want to cover your living room walls in the color. Instead, try an accent wall or just try painting the lower portion of your wall orange. You can also add orange accents with home decor including throw pillows, pottern accents, rugs, and wall art.

Pair Orange with Natural Materials

Orange is a vivid color that pairs well with textured natural materials like wood, stone, and plants. Create a vibrant natural space by painting it a shade of orange that you find in nature and bringing in other organic elements like wooden furniture and wall art, stone pottery, and a variable mixture of natural greenery.

Colors That Complement Orange

Striking orange hues may not seem like a color that pairs well with other colors, but consider various shades of dreamy persimmon and desert orange and you begin to see how you can craft a workable color scheme using orange hues.

  • Oranges and Light Neutrals – Light neutrals like white, cream, beige, and light gray help to balance out the intensity of the color orange. Don’t just limit yourself to vivid oranges and neutrals. Instead, consider how you can use muted and pale shades of orange white light neutrals.
  • Oranges and Dark Neutrals – Dark neutrals like black, brown, and dark gray also help to counteract the vibrancy of orange. Deep oranges and browns set an autumnal tone. A pairing of orange with black achieves an elegant and modern look.
  • Oranges and Blues – Orange and blue are a natural pairing as orange and azure are complementary colors on the traditional color wheel. You can pair orange and blue in many forms. Use options like a vibrant orange and balance it with a pale blue/aqua or a burnt orange and navy and you have a winning combination.
  • Oranges and Greens – Orange and green may seem an awkward combination at first glance, but these vibrant natural hues create an energetic and dynamic environment.
  • Oranges and Red/Pinks – Orange and red are analogous colors, so together, they create a warm and striking combination. These colors in all of their forms stand up well to each other creating balance rather than competition. This combination is playful and also unexpected.

Ideal Rooms for Orange

Orange may not be the best choice for every room of your house. A good strategy is to use orange in strategic places throughout your home for the greatest impact.

  • Child’s Bedroom or Playroom – Orange is an active and warm color, so it complements the energy of children. Use pale or muted shades of orange in bedrooms to create a cheerful atmosphere without generating too much stimulus for relaxation.
  • Exercise Room – Scientific studies have shown that orange colors generate energetic feelings. Harness this energy by utilizing this color in your workout spaces.
  • Living Room – Deep and rich orange colors generate feelings of warmth and coziness. Create your own comfortable living room haven with the right orange shade. Use orange accents to bring vitality to your living room if an all-over paint color is too overwhelming for your color scheme.
  • Dining Room – Orange paint can provide an elegant and formal style, so it is an ideal choice for certain dining rooms.
  • Craft/Sewing Room – Orange colors can stimulate your creative juices, so put it to work in your crafting area.

Popular Orange Paint Colors

We have rounded up some of the most versatile shades to help you choose the right shade of orange to set off your interior decor.

Light Orange Paint Colors

  • Parchment (OC-78) from Benjamin Moore – Consider the “barely there” color that Benjamin Moore calls Parchment. This paint color has a strong presence of white with just a hint of warm peach and beige to warm it up.
  • Tooty Fruity (89) from Benjamin Moore – Tooty Fruity is a light orange that leans toward pink. It has a fresh and refreshing look that is perfect in a child’s playroom.
  • Faded Terracotta (No. CC8) from Farrow & Ball – Faded Terracotta looks muted enough to have spent years being washed and faded in the outdoors. It is a light to mid-toned orange with gray undertone that wash out the color.

Medium Orange Paint Colors

  • Potters Clay (1221) from Benjamin Moore – Potters Clay is a more saturated terracotta hue. This orange hue has strong pink undertones but enough gray to mute the vibrancy of the color.
  • Autumnal (6361) from Sherwin Williams – Autumnal is a mid-toned gray with yellow and pink undertones. This is a well-balanced shade that provides you with a sophisticated orange option.
  • Orangery (No. 70) from Farrow & Ball – Orangery is an orange-yellow hue. This color provides the look of rich sunlight even where the lighting is dim.

DarkOrange Paint Colors

  • Rust (2175-30) from Benjamin Moore – The Rust color combines parts of red/orange and brown to produce this deep and rich shade/
  • Copper Mountain (6356) from Sherwin Williams – Copper Mountain has the same intensity of Rust but with undertones of yellow that brighten the hue.
  • Charlotte’s Locks (No 268) from Farrow & Ball – Charlotte’s Locks is a deep but vivid orange. It has rosy undertones which make it appear burnt red in some lights.