Going Dutch (Or Spanish): Orange and Red Rooms

In the name of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals this weekend, I thought I'd offer a slightly more design-conscious celebration of the game than ear-shattering vuvuzelas, wild cheers and bar-room brawling. The two teams participating in the finals this year are the Dutch and the Spanish so I'm using the colours of their uniforms as an excuse to celebrate these hues through interior design. How's that for team spirit?
People shy away from bold, warm colours in rooms mainly because of their intensity and the perceived notion that they are difficult to work with in interior design. Finding furniture and drapery to match a room saturated in rich, warm tones can be a challenge - but the rewards can be striking. As with any vivid colour the key to using hot tones indoors is to stand up to their vibrancy with courage and conviction, using the colour either as a base for the entire room or choosing to use it as an accent colour to a more neutral backdrop. Either way, your options are many; you can make the colour as intense or as subdued as you wish, as you'll see in the Martha Stewart Living illustrations below. Which shade are you routing for?

Orange is a favourite colour of mine. I love its sense of playfulness. Using it indoors is not something I have tried, except in accent pieces. I splurged once and bought a beautiful Indian silk pillow in the most bold shade of orange you can imagine. It was embellished with a beautifully ornate design that was stitched using a neutral cotton twine. I also have a whimsical pair of dish towels from Anthropologie featuring a whacky orange design with appliquéd parrots and green pom-poms on the fringe. It sounds outrageous, but they look fantastic as pops of personality in an otherwise white kitchen. Expect the personality of a room with orange to be light and peaceful with a whimsical edge. Using it in formal spaces will soften the seriousness with a playful hit. Below are some examples of how to use orange effectively indoors.
This traditional English-style foyer, painted pumpkin orange, offers a warm welcome to all who enter. Paired with plenty of whites -- the wainscoting, ceiling, risers, trim, and balusters -- the walls feel crisp, particularly when outlined with brown grosgrain ribbon (which is adhered with craft glue). The warm browns of the wood harmonize well with orange, animating and restraining it.

The dove gray of a bookcase tames the vibrant orange shelves and interior; the armchair's dusty-orange velvet upholstery is toned down by a cream-and-pale-green side table. It's easy to add orange shades with a flower arrangement like this clutch of coral roses.
An iron garden table is painted an irrepressible orange -- perfect for waking up at the breakfast table with orange juice, cantaloupe, and marmalade. Window seats are made cozy with cushions covered in mocha-colored canvas and piping in another fresh orange. Café curtains with a subtle orange stripe add a horizontal element.

In this living room, Philippe Starck chairs sit next to a weathered celadon cabinet. The pale-orange walls unite this unexpected pair.
Here is whimsy at its finest. An array of elaborately floral cushions in shades of orange mingle on a daybed on a sunny porch. The effect is fun and eclectic with a definite nod to nostalgia.
A sunset's colors look best in the bedroom, where burnt oranges and warm yellows make this room warm and enveloping.
A hot orange in carefully modulated doses visually organizes disparate elements in this formal living room. A pillow, a console, a coffee table, and picture mats all wear the same vivid hue. Chinese porcelain -- the lamp and two lidded jars -- adds accents in a similarly intense shade. The sofa sports stripes of peach and orange; the Sultanabad carpet with strong orange elements is handwoven.If you're feeling any trepidation, you can start off on a small scale by customizing a neutral room with a few coordinated accessories: a spicy-orange bedspread, terra-cotta Roman shades, and a curry-colored lampshade.

There's a reason why bulls charge those taunting red sheets wielded by matadors. Traditionally associated with passion, heat, love and anger, red is the most extreme colour of them all. Use red in rooms conducive to spirited conversation and activity: living rooms, dining rooms and entry halls. Avoid using red in bedrooms where peace of mind and rest are the focus. As with orange, red can be used intensely or sparsely, depending on the mood you are aiming to achieve. Pops of red in neutral spaces are punctuation points: use it in flowers, cushions, trim and decorative accent pieces to create focal points. (Red will never fade into the background!) As a unifying colour, the bolder the better; dive in and fearlessly use red on the walls or the floors for a very dramatic effect. Below are some examples of red indoors.

When Martha first purchased her home in Bedford, she experimented with red in the Colonial house on the property, transforming the rooms into lush examples of bold colour executed perfectly. In the formal living room, a black lacquered Chinese screen, an Indian carved-teakwood table, and a pair of modest beige armchairs counterpoint the red-hued walls, upholstery, and carpet. The fireplace-wall paneling and the curtains are embellished with reddish faux-bois effects: The pine paneling was coated with a deep-red glaze and then grained with a reddish-black paint to mimic a luxurious, dark wood; the curtain fabric was silk-screened. Antique red Turkish Oushak carpets, such as this one, are rare. The arrangement of snapdragons incorporates the spectrum of reds used in the house. (Martha has since transformed the rooms again and the red is no more.)
A coppery-red arrangement of astilbe and celosia warms a cool-gray hallway in Martha's home. Above the flowers, a Directoire-style girandole holds a white porcelain model of a mandarin figure. A Chinese ceramic garden seat in a deep sang de boeuf red stands under the table.
Orange Fitzhugh-pattern Chinese-export porcelain, originally from Skylands, inspired Martha's dining-room color sceheme. The painted walls match the deepest tone on the china. A quince-colored velvet tablecloth and sunset-hued fabric on the folding screen highlight the richness and depth of gold-tinged reds.
A Chinese-style red painted bureau in Martha's living room has a faux-marble top. Black tole candlestick lamps, a set of lacquered stacking boxes, and a grouping of eighteenth-century English prints depicting Asian-inspired scenes continue the chinoiserie theme.
A 1930s Chinese Chippendale-style fish tank (one of Martha's collectibles) showcases a red mini-orchid. Even the covers of the books on the shelves -- a collection of Loeb classic, a series of works in Latin translated into English -- contribute to the color scheme.

This homeowner brings nature's elements indoors and turns them into pure decorating gold: The stools, for instance, are tree stumps from a nearby field that she coated with a latex primer and five layers of fire-engine-red porch-enamel paint. The Manila clamshell light, red coral pillow, and bamboo-inspired glass-topped table are all outdoorsy touches.

This kitchen, which has windows on four sides, is further enlivened with glossy red paint on the window frames, some of the cabinetry, and a staircase that leads to a guest bedroom. Black-and-white linoleum tiles pull together furnishings and fixtures from a range of eras, including bobbin-turned English Regency chairs with rush seats grouped around a nineteenth-century Continental trestle table.
An ornate, vividly colored fabric, such as this Turkey red damask tablecloth, instantly adds warmth and a sense of refinement.
With the help of these candle and flower centerpieces, the whole table will shine. For each one, use candle wax to attach a small floral frog to the center of a shallow bowl. Push a taper into the floral frog to secure. Pour water into the bowl. Clip amaryllis blooms (or other large flowers) from their stems, and arrange them in the bowl around the candle.


Pru said...

What a clever idea Andrew. I liked both the orange and red photos, and am still torn as to which team to support tonight! I have never experimented with orange but remember as a child having bright yellow walls with blue curtains and the woodwork done in fire-engine red - I'm pleased that there are no photos of it!

Will said...

Great post!


Pru, colourful rooms create colourful children I believe. Have no shame! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love your photos and want to incorporate more orange into my house. Not a Halloween orange, but more of a persimmon.

Anonymous said...

From these pictures; red is hot, orange is cool and refreshing. Sparingly used, orange was very charming. But for the World Cup, I'm definitely a red.