Ina Garten makes her living room feel warmer and 'cozier' using this unexpected furniture hue

The Barefoot Contessa's vibrant living space strikes a balance between sophisticated and cozy – and it begins with this tone

ina garten in her kitchen
(Image credit: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo via Getty Images)

When it comes to warming up a space, there are certain textures and colors that are go-to's: inviting woods, soft rugs, cozy creams... but a perhaps underused hue is a friendly-but-sophisticated orange.

Take Ina Garten's living room – the Barefoot Contessa's wood bookshelf and large windows serve as the perfect accompaniment for the rust sofa, whose Vitamin C-inspired shade is an ideal receptor for sunlight. It offers the perfect incentive to decorate with orange in a way that feels more stylish and less overpowering.

Vibrant orange may typically be associated with athletic spaces, such as gyms and sports arenas – and this is for a reason. 

'Warm colors are associated with excitement, energy, and warmth,' explains interior designer Laura Chappetto. 'These colors can increase heart rate and blood pressure and can create a sense of urgency or excitement.'

However, Chappetto says that orange's nuanced range allows for it to adapt to different styles, particularly more subdued home designs.

'More subtle varieties of the color are much more neutral and therefore much easier to incorporate into your space. Altering the intensity in color also changes the mood that the color evokes,' she explains. 'More subtle shades of varying hues are often also associated with warmth and coziness. They often provide a welcoming atmosphere. This makes warm colors a great choice for your living room and dining room or even a bedroom.'

While orange often evokes a '70s feel, for those looking for a more modern approach to the color, try implementing some contrasting to cool tones.

'Painting your room a subtle shade that has undertones of warmth, adding in decor and accessories, and balancing them with cool colors can be great ways to evoke the feeling of warmth without feeling too dated,' she states. 'Large rooms also benefit from having warm colors. While cool tones are said to push you away and expand a room, warm tones envelop you, making a large room feel cozier.'

Orange sofa in living room

An orange sofa similar to that in Garten's space.

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Another benefit of orange? Depending on what shade is used, it can double as a neutral tone (it's more versatile than meets the eye!).

'I chose a warm color palette for my bedroom with wood tones and ochres,' Chappetto says. 'The subtle orange adds interest while remaining fairly neutral overall.'

Laura Chappetto Flynn
Laura Chappetto

Laura is an interior designer just outside of Chicago. She prides herself on creating luxury interiors for clients that are made to be lived in. She is passionate about helping everyone fall in love with their home and has created an Instagram presence on taking tips from her luxury projects and sharing them in ways that can help people in their own home.

Shop H&G's orange edit

Hannah Ziegler
News Editor

Hannah is Homes & Gardens’ News Editor, with a focus on celebrity style and entertainment content. She got her start in media as a digital editorial assistant at ELLE Canada, and has since written about lifestyle and culture for publications such as Nylon and i-D.

Her love of film is rivalled only by one with a great soundtrack, and she hopes to someday decorate a Nancy Meyers-worthy kitchen.