I know what you're thinking: that's not a color, it's a fish. And indeed it is; in fact, the salmon is one of the more interesting fish, captivating biology students with its feat of swimming hundreds of miles only to return to the very spot from whence it came.

When talking about the color "salmon," however, we're not talking about the silvery color of the fish as it makes its long trip around the Davis Strait. We're talking about the color that's much more familiar to fish-lovers: the silky pink of the salmon meat just before you slap it on the grill.

Calling salmon "pink" seems to do it a disservice, because this tone is so much more subtle. When you think of pink, you think of ballerinas' tutus, the icing on a four-year-old girl's birthday cake, or certain bright lipsticks of the 1960s.

How much more elegant and understated is salmon. You could think of salmon as being pink, but a matured pink. This is pink, yes, but the pinkness is just a bare blush washed in to the base. And the base that tones down salmon from being too bright a pink isn't white, but is cream, giving salmon its smooth, soothing tone.

  • Tip: Salmon is one of those colors that is subdued enough that you could use it for a whole room. It would work nicely for wall color for a living room, sitting room, or a bedroom, and it could even be used to make a guest bathroom more formal. You can find materials for a kitchen counter in salmon as well. A living room or sitting room with salmon walls will seem cozy without inciting claustrophobia.


For an old-fashioned look, try painting the walls of a living room, sitting room, or bedroom in salmon, and then painting the trim in a rich cream. A chintz wing chair with salmon in the pattern will play nicely off the wall color, and drapes in a slightly darker salmon will pull the look together.

For something more contemporary, paint the trim in a shade of one of the pale greens, a teal or even a turquoise. This last combination - salmon and turquoise - is a favorite in Southwestern interiors, as the stone, turquoise, is of course found in the Southwest, and the salmon echoes the colors of the desert in the morning light.

Knowing that nature is one of the best resources for color combinations, think too of matching salmon with the color the skin of the salmon - a dark, metallic silver. Using a silvery trim in a room with salmon walls will make the room even more formal, and would be an excellent choice for a formal dining room, where you'll repeat the silver with candlesticks, cutlery, and perhaps table decorations.

Salmon is also strong enough to add a nice decorative flair with just a few accents. Re-upholstering a chair or sofa in a salmon fabric will brighten an otherwise dark room, and even a well-placed throw pillow or vase will add a note of elegant cheer.

Salmon is an unusual color choice, but it's one with a great deal of versatility. You can dress it up or dress it down, and by changing the trim and accessories, you can give a new look to a room without investing in re-painting all the walls.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design

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