Burnt Orange Is Back: How to Decorate with the '70s Shade

Bring energy and warmth into any room of your home with this surprisingly versatile earthy hue.

Burnt orange is once again heating up home decor. The spicy hue is seeing renewed interest as television and fashion revive some of the signature looks of the 1970s. But it’s not just nostalgia and pop culture that’s got burnt orange on our minds (and in our living rooms). As we look for ways to add warmer neutrals and more energizing colors into our homes, burnt orange is a perfect choice. 

orange curtains in traditional living room

Peter Rymwid

“It adds dynamic energy to a room without being too overpowering,” says Madison Adam, interior design services manager at Article. “As an earth tone, it has a natural grounding effect that instantly makes people feel comfortable and warm.” 

Although it might conjure images of avocado green, brown corduroy, and groovy abstract waves, today’s burnt orange has a fresh new look.  Whether you’re craving retro inspiration or hoping to spice up your color palette, these tips from the pros will help you confidently decorate with burnt orange. 

small bedroom with natural light and white sheer curtains

Werner Straube

How to Decorate with Burnt Orange

Burnt orange is an incredibly versatile color. “Burnt orange is organic, warm, and natural,” says Mary Best of Mary Best Designs. As an earth tone,  burnt orange plays well with other earthy shades and neutrals, and it can be used with any decorating style. 

“Burnt orange, while certainly a color on its own, can also act as a perceived neutral because it’s so close to a natural copper color,” says Lindsey Putzier, owner and principal designer at Lindsey Putzier Design Studio. “Since burnt orange mimics copper, it can stand in as a 'metallic' hue in decor, which gives the color much more flexibility in a range of designs. Brighter oranges don’t have this same potential.”

Burnt orange has a zing that many earth tones do not, even if used as a neutral.  Anthony Barzilay Freund, editorial director and director of fine art at 1stDibs, calls out everyday decor like sofas and headboards as an opportunity to embrace the hue’s personality. “You’ll give an otherwise well-behaved room some swagger and swank all at once,” says Freund.

twin bed in bedroom with orange graphic wallpaper
Anthony Masterson

Burnt Orange as an Accent Color or Primary Color

Because of burnt orange’s versatility, you can use it as an accent color or a primary color. “To use burnt orange as an accent color, consider varying its texture on multiple surfaces for more visual interest,” says Lindsey Putzier, owner and principal designer at Lindsey Putzier Design Studio. “For example, put some orange ceramic vases on a black bookcase, then add a sisal rug with a burnt orange linen border and some velvet pillows.”

As a primary color, add burnt orange through paint, wallpaper, and tile. These surfaces are opportunities to bring textures, finishes, and patterns to the hue. But those aren’t the only options. “If using burnt orange as the dominant color in the room, I love to see it in the bigger pieces,” says Best, who recommends the color for sofas, rugs, and window treatments. 

Putzier recommends making sure the hue isn’t used in just one spot, especially as a primary color. “If you use burnt orange as a primary color, be sure to repeat the color in smaller quantities elsewhere in the space. For example, a bold orange ottoman can be paired with a painting with burnt orange tones. Repeating the color ensures burnt orange looks intentional in the space,” she says.

But don’t go too far: while some colors can work well in a monochrome scheme, Adam advises against outfitting a room with burnt orange in paint, furnishings, and decor. “You’ll find it ends up looking dull,” she says.

living room with burnt orange sofa and blue armchair

Courtesy of 1stDibs / Shawn Henderson Interior Design

Burnt Orange Color Palettes 

“To keep burnt orange feeling contemporary, try to mix it with a fresh color palette, versus colors that seem reminiscent of the 1970s,” says Best. Avoid heavy uses of mustard yellow and avocado green—even if the '70s are making a comeback, together they may feel too on the nose. You can also modernize the color with contemporary neutrals, like furniture with boucle fabrics. “Black, iron, oak, or light-colored wood will keep the look modern,” says Adam. 

Lively Neutrals

“Burnt orange coordinates beautifully with a wide range of neutrals and colors. It looks fantastic paired with warm beige, off-white, charcoal, and black,” says Putzier. In spaces relying heavily on neutrals and metals, Putzier recommends burnt orange to invigorate the palette. “[It] infuses some color without being overbearing in the space. This is a great example of when burnt orange stands in for copper metal and blends in with the rest of the neutral palette,” says Putzier.

Blue Pairings

“Orange and blue are complementary colors and can look great paired together. The duo is eye-catching, vibrant, and adds visual interest plus depth,” says Adam. From pale blues to aqua, navy, and denim, shades of blue are commonly found alongside orange. The sometimes playful colors of midcentury modern design are a great example of burnt orange pairing with a vibrant blue. 

Earth Tones

Burnt orange pairs well with other earth tones, too. Putzier recommends deep evergreens and dusty sages; the reddish hue cozies up the otherwise cool natural colors. Incorporating greenery and houseplants, as well as natural woods, are additional ways to bring in earthy accents. 

Modern Pinks

“Burnt orange looks beautiful with shades of pink, such as blush or magenta,” says Best. This pairing is great for trendy bohemian style. The mix of similar hues can easily be layered on top of one another, and with multiple other colors, through fabrics and patterns in more vibrant boho spaces. In minimalist, Scandinavian spaces, accents in burnt orange and blush play harmoniously with the lighter, calmer setting. 

bathroom with burnt orange shower wall tiles

Stephanie Penick / Courtesy of Lindsey Putzier

Ideas for Decorating with Burnt Orange

Use It in Unexpected Places

“Burnt orange dominates more than a neutral color but is still grounded and earthy,” says Best. Whether you’re using it as a pop of color or an alternative neutral, it’s a shade that you can easily use in an unexpected place without it feeling incongruous. It works well in rooms and on objects you might not expect to incorporate color. “Think of other rooms or spaces that could use some warmth. A burnt orange pillow or desk lamp would be an excellent addition to a home office given office furniture is typically quite simple,” says Adam.

Make It a Statement Piece

“If the rest of your room is painted white, with neutral decor and furniture in other neutral or complementary colors, a burnt orange statement piece is a safe bet,” says Adam. A simple, neutral backdrop creates an attention-grabbing moment with burnt orange. “If your room is already wallpapered in a bold pattern, has shag carpet, or contains maximalist upholstered items, there may be too many pieces vying for attention which will result in an unbalanced room,” advises Adam.

article sofa by pool with orange pillows and containers

Courtesy of Article

Take It Outside

“As an earth tone, outdoor decor in burnt orange will contrast beautifully with natural colors found outside,” says Adam. Similar to terra-cotta and clay, the shade is an easy fit for outdoor spaces and pops against greenery, decks, and pavers. “Planters, side tables, or coffee tables in burnt orange are great,” says Adam. 

Combine with Vintage Decor

Whether your home skews contemporary or you're going for a full retro revival, vintage accents pair nicely with the nostalgic color. “The custom mohair-upholstered sofa 1stDibs 50 honoree Shawn Henderson designed for a Chelsea, New York, living room is a star among the elegant, somewhat understated vintage and antique furniture and objects with which it cohabitates,” says Freund. Burnt orange can expertly enhance the warmth from the wood and metals of beloved antiques. 

Penfield House Story - sitting area with two modern burnt orange chairs, round coffee table; and console table with lamp Rating

Kim Cornelison

Go Subtle with Seating

“I’m always drawn to burnt orange leather on dining and accent chairs,” says Best. Leather inherently has brown and orange hues, making burnt orange a natural coloring option for this luxe material. Putzier also recommends the color for seating, whether in a dining room or living area.

Give Retro a Revival

Lean into the retro roots of burnt orange with a vibrant pattern through artwork, shag carpets, or other popular elements of 1970s interior design. To keep it from feeling like you’re stepping back in the past, Adam recommends modernizing the use of color and shapes. 1970s design refreshed for today, according to Adam, uses “hues found in nature, simple geometric shapes and patterns, and chunky, yet classic furniture silhouettes.”

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