When you're thinking of using color in your decorating, orange probably doesn't rush to the top of your list. Most people are somewhat hesitant when it comes to painting color on walls, and they're downright yellow when it comes to using a bright color, such as orange.

With good reason. Done wrong, orange will quickly wreck a room, and you'll find that before you can move the furniture back into place you're breaking out the eggshell white to try and cover up your mistake.

But you can use bight color in your home to good effect, and you don't have to limit yourself to using it with small accent pieces. And you can do this even with orange.

Yes, orange - real orange, "orange-orange." You can start with orange as an effective accent color, especially in a dark room. A bowlful of oranges or an orange frosted glass vase will seem to glow if set out on a polished dark wooden desk or dining table. If the wall behind the accent piece is dark, so much the better; the piece will stand out even more, drawing attention to itself, and drawing attention away from whatever you don't want your visitors to focus on.

If you're looking for a last minute pick-me-up for a room that's looking a little drab, you could just run to the corner store, buy three oranges, place in a blue bowl, and voila! Brightness appears.

But you don't have to confine your use of orange to small accents. You can, indeed, paint an entire wall orange, and still not scare yourself every time you walk into the room. Here, you see the effect of painting entire walls a bright, courageous orange.

One reason this room works is because the bright orange walls are broken up with the oversized windows, which bring in not only light, but also color: here, the green of the leaves outside and the white of the building next door that you can just make out.

If you do choose to paint your walls orange, remember to have lots of accent pieces of another color in the room. Here, the trim at the top of the walls offsets the orange, the white and green tablecloth makes a nice counterpoint, and the white ceiling provides a neutral balance.

That neural balancing white is crucial to making a true orange work well. The white brightens the orange, and softens its tone enough so that you're not overwhelmed by the color.

As with any color you're hesitant about using, think of how it's used in nature. Remember that oranges don't really come from the bin at the supermarket; they come from orange groves, where the fruit is nestled into a canopy of dark green leaves. That's why the green works so well in this room - the decorator here is mimicking nature's palette.

So go ahead and take a chance: brighten up your home with a little orange - or a lot. Maybe your use of this daring decorative color will leave your neighbors, to take a line from Scarlett, "Pea green with envy!"

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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