Burnt orange is the color of pumpkins, autumn leaves just before they turn brown, worn tobacco-colored leather, and a crayon invented in 1954. The color is bold but never brassy -- burnt orange will always warm a room and cast a flattering glow over everything around it. The color is not an exact shade -- ideal burnt orange is in the eye of the beholder. Pick up some of its hues in decorative accents in a room -- blues, reds, yellows and greens -- for contrast that is still harmonious.
To get burnt orange, mix yellows -- pale cadmium yellow and a lemon yellow -- reds -- cadmium red and a rose -- and a touch of burnt sienna to deepen and add a brown edge to the color. Painters can experiment with a rich deep yellow plus a deep red with some yellow in it and a hint of bluish-tinged dark green for artwork on canvas. But the best way to get the shade of wall paint for your den or dining room or the accent wall in the kitchen, is to head to your paint store, pull the color cards that come closest to your vision, and have the experts mix up a couple of samples for you. Paint a big swatch of each color on the wall or coat a small board with each color to place against the wall. Then observe the samples in varying light -- all daylight hours and the typical night lighting for that space. Some oranges will go muddy in certain light; others will be too yellow-orange by day. Trying out samples takes time, but it's the best way to find a color you'll be happy with.
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The brown tone in burnt orange makes it more versatile in decor. Pure orange is so assertive that it can be overwhelming; burnt orange is muted but still forceful enough to create a welcoming glow in a room. Red and orange are stimulants and encourage both appetite and conversation in the dining room. Try burnt orange walls above natural wood or cream wainscoting, with burnt orange velvet chair cushions. Paint the interior of an open hutch burnt orange in a white or pale gray dining room and keep a bowl of matching chrysanthemums, tiger lilies or dahlias on the table. Tile a backsplash in the kitchen with rich burnt orange-glazed tiles that pick up the burnt orange in the aged terra-cotta floor. Glaze an entire petite powder room in burnt orange enamel and add a green glass vessel sink for Faberge-egg opulence. Understated luxury in a library pairs soft burnt orange on the faux-sueded walls with burnt orange leather club chairs and an orange, cream, cobalt and olive oriental rug. Bookshelves, tables, cabinets and trim should be stained and polished natural wood.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .