Decorating with… Coral!

By Kate Riley July 16, 2013

Continuing the Color Inspiration Series today with a look at one of my favorites, perhaps yours too, the very in vogue shade of coral. It’s been hot this spring and summer in fashion and decor, and is such a happy hue that is part pink part orange. Many people consider coral a feminine shade but I think just like pink that energetic coral is very balanced when partnered with black, navy, or rich wood tones.

coral walls steven gambrel

Steven Gambrel design via Houzz

Coral is the color of the sky at sunrise and sunset, casting a warm glow over the ocean and earth. It’s a perfect paint color in a bedroom, I love it mixed with aqua and modern white accents, very fresh!

coral in girls bedroom

DM Design Solutions

coral wall guest room

Live Laugh Decorate


Coral is a fab color for painted pieces too, chairs, dressers, and accessories all glow in this cheerful shade.

coral painted chairs

Mary Best Designs

coral dresser sarah dorsey

Sarah Dorsey

coral frames tobi fairley

Tobi Fairley

I have a design crush on coral textiles, big bold florals and geometrics too. Coral is warm and youthful and it looks amazing with warmer metals like brass and gold, or paired with darker neutrals like mocha, charcoal gray, and smoky blue.  

coral curtains jamie herzlinger

Jamie Herzlinger Design

betsy burnham coral textiles

Betsy Burnham Design

coral headboard merideth heron

Meredith Heron


What other colors also look fab paired with coral? 

coral and gray palette

101 Woonideen / House to Home


coral and ice blue palette

Erica Bierman Photography / Lori Smythe Design


navy and coral palette

Madeline Weinrib textiles / Darci Goodman Designs


Deep browns look rich next to shades of coral and soft neutrals soften the impact of this energetic hue. 

coral with neutrals

Amanda Nisbet / Phoebe Howard

Getting the right coral paint can be tricky, it can lean salmon or orange or pink depending on the light in a space and its location in the home. I chose ‘Begonia’ by Sherwin Williams for my studio wall. Have you painted anything coral lately? What shade would you recommend?



  1. I am loving the coral trend! I really like that it is less of the peachy-coral of the 80s but more of a bold color that can lean pink, red, or orange. I went with Sherwin Willians Rejuvenate in our otherwise carrara marble and white bathroom and really love it (I think it is the same color used on the picture frame pic, above). It is bright, leans toward orange, but just says “happy”!

  2. Love! Our youngest is doing her new room away at the university in coral, navy and white!! Loving the combo. Will have to show her the photos!!

  3. Hi Kate,

    I’ve found your blog not too long ago and I’ve been following you since.
    I’m in total sintony with you…even from the other side of the ocean (from Portugal).

    I love coral. I have a new house to decorate and for my daughters room
    I’ve selected the ice blue/coral combination, I just love it.
    For the master bedroom, I’ll go with the grey walls and coral complements.

    That coral headboard is amazing…

  4. That means so much coming from you, Kate — thank you! You’ve been a huge inspiration as I’ve gotten into DIY over the last few years, and for my thoughts about what design can do to make people’s lives better (Alma Project, etc).

  5. Those panels on the back wall of the Erica Bierman Photography/ Lori Smythe room are BOMB!!!

  6. I am so glad you’ve brought up coral. I am obsessed with the color so much, it’s basically the theme of my website. All the photos are fantastic Kate. Thank you so much for sharing! And oh, I have lots of DIY that have not been on this website yet, will share with you later. Thanks again!

  7. I’ve loved having coral in my wardrobe, it’s a color that looks good on everyone. So,why not use it in decor! Prefer it as pops of color to bring life into a room. I’ d start small with accent pieces like pillows, accessories . It’ s a happy color. Pinned and thanks for sharing.

  8. A few years back I found an room in architecture design with coral and tourquosie. I research the paint and fabric and went to work on my office. I loved it. Family and friends thought I was nuts. Had people asking “what happened in there???” Why did you do that???. Needless to say, peer pressure prevailed and a coat of primer and beige later everyone but me were happy again. Only saving grace was the home later sold in a day. People in WA state sure do love their neutrals :)

  9. Interesting to see coral paired so much with turquoise. They really are great together. For those of us who like “rustic” and “distressed” in our décor, a common, similar, color found in lots of 19th Century antique pieces is Bittersweet. In the powder room of our 1880s farmhouse, I put a modern frosted glass bowl sink, in turquoise, on an antique table, and added bittersweet and turquoise antique accents. Turned out great!

  10. I love the coral frames! Coral and grey is so chic together – thanks for creating this post of inspirational color combos!

  11. Great timing! I was just working on changing all the orange (too harsh) accents in our navy/gray/ivory bedroom to a softer, easier-on-the-eyes coral. Nice to know I’m on trend! :)

  12. Mmmm!!! I am loving the Coral and Grey! Working on a little revamp of our master bedroom, and I think the mister could deal with this. :-)
    Do you have any suggestions for great coral fabric?

  13. I loved this post! I am currently in the process of decorating our office with coral as well as using accents of coral throughout the house! For the office I went with 2 walls of Benjamin Moore’s Kingsport Gray and 2 walls of Benjamin Moore’s Intense Peach. I was nervous to be so bold at first with coral walls, but I LOVE IT!! I am adding turquoise accents throughout the office space as well as maybe a cream colored chaise lounge!

  14. I painted my 3rd daughter’s crib coral last year after being inspired by an amazing Amy Butler fabric I fell in love with. The room is lilac and white with the coral crib as a burst of colour. The coral is Oriental Poppy by ICI. I’m working on my blog but haven’t gotten in gear yet so to see it you’d need to check it out on my website ( also in dire need of updating). So many projects so little time…

  15. I love the coral on the painted furniture and accent pieces. I’m thinking about painting my daughter’s night stand or desk coral–would it be too much to do both? The whole rooms painted coral felt overwhelming–I prefer something more calming like pale blue/aqua or white.

  16. I’ve been so drawn to coral the last few years. I absolutely love it. But I’m also glad you mentioned how difficult it can be to get just the right shade. I’m helping a friend pick out colors for her new place, and she’s very nervous about color in general, having always stuck with neutrals. As I was looking at different options for her, I realized how quickly coral goes to peach or mauve. Yikes!

  17. Hi Kate,

    Love this Coral trend! Where can I find the coral loop de loop fabric on the little stool in the Tobi Fairley coral picture frame screen?

    Love your designs!

  18. Thank you for this timely post, I am decorating a nursery and when I tell people my color is coral, I get a very surprised reaction! Ah, sweet validation!

  19. My wife wants that “Live Laugh Decorate” for our bedroom renovation. I unhesitatingly said yes to her. She is just so happy when I agreed. Is that orange or pink painted on the cabinet with lampshade on it?

  20. We just painted out front door coral. The actual color was Martha Stewart Living “Maine Lobster.” It’s lovely!

  21. It’s amazing how versatile coral is! The top two images almost look Mediterranean, I love the warm global feel. I have lots of coral in my living room (including a two-foot tall Flamingo) and I’ve mixed it with mustard and turquoise – as awful as that sounds, it works really well and is quite retro!

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