We’ll always love a high contrast black-and-white moment or a fun tropical color palette, but there’s something incredibly timeless about earth tones. From warm brown to serene sage, these calming hues lend a laid-back, cozy feel to any space. Plus, thanks to design trends like organic modern and all brown everything, earthy color schemes are taking center-stage once again.
“Earth tones are a go-to when I’m looking to create a calm, comforting, and warm atmosphere,” says Havenly lead designer Toussaint Derby. “They all contain some brown pigment, which explains their muted appearance and cocooning effect on a space.”
Ahead, Toussaint shares her favorite earth-toned color palettes, plus her number-one tip for pulling off earth tones in a space: texture! “To add depth and contrast to grounded earth tones, texture is essential,” she adds. “Layer in varied materials like leather, rattan, jute, shearling, faux fur, linen, and beyond.”
1. Charcoal and Chocolate
If the idea of a bold terracotta or earthy green seems too far out of your color comfort zone, fear not: there are plenty of subtle, neutral earth tones you can bring into your space. Take the timeless combo of charcoal and chocolate, for example. Varying shades of brown, tan, and cream mixed with grounding charcoal makes for a refined, chic take on the rustic look. It’s a perfectly understated palette that adds undeniable warmth.
2. Evergreen, Winter White & Oxblood
Red, green, and white aren’t just for the holidays. These complementary colors work beautifully together no matter the season, especially when paired with grounding tan, warm wood, and luxe brass accents. When working with more bold earth tones, select one primary color (in this case, evergreen) and pepper in complementary accents (like the oxblood bench).
3. Latte and Spiced Red
As you can imagine, coffee-inspired browns, warm cream, and spice rack reds add endless warmth to a space. To pull off this cozy earth toned palette, bring in eye-catching brass and rich wood tones to complement the red, and opt for clean, neutral walls to balance out the look. The end result is sophisticated, yet cozy.
4. Deep Navy and Terracotta
Here is another example of two complementary hues on the color wheel working well together in a space. Here, cool navy blue is the hero color, while the terracotta orange in the bench and area rug adds a hint of warmth. The contrast makes for a dynamic, well-balanced space that still reads earthy.
5. Rust and Mustard
This living room is proof that bold, warm earth tone hues, like mustard yellow and rusty red, can still bode well together. To pull this off, remember that a little goes a long way, and be sure to balance out the vibrant colors with plenty of crisp white and ivory. Bring in color with accent furniture and decor, versus wall-to-wall paint or hero furniture.
6. Black, Ivory, and Ochre
If you tend to favor a neutral color palette, stick to your preferred black, white, and gray with an earthy color pop, like ochre. This rich, golden earth tone pairs beautifully with gold or brass accents, and easily adds a hint of warmth to an otherwise minimalist aesthetic. Even a few ochre throw pillows and a vase or two will get the job done!
7. Navy, Off-White, Burnt Orange
Burnt orange and deep navy are another foolproof match that take inspiration from the color wheel. Brighten up the bold earth tones with light wood furniture, texture-rich bouclé, hints of brass, and a pop of cool green via live plants. The end result is sophisticated, timeless, and understated.
8. Shades of Sage
Sage is one of the most popular earth tones (not to mention our 2021 color of the year), and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it incredibly calming, it essentially functions as a neutral while still adding a hint of color to a space. To add some much-needed contrast, bring in warm wood tones, cognac or brick red accents, and brass hardware for a perfect earthy palette.
9. Navy, Gray, and Pine
If you’re looking for rich earth tones that still feel bold, look no further than navy, charcoal gray, and pine green. When paired with warm wood flooring, ambient lighting, and brass touches, this color palette feels like it was tailor-made for a moody at-home library.
10. Olive and Bronze
Warm neutrals with yellow undertones paired with cool olive and bronze accents create a sun-filled backdrop that’s stylish and inviting. Add in a hint of warm cognac leather and graphic black and white artwork, and you have a dynamic earth-toned living space fit for Friday nights at home.
11. Brown, Pumpkin, Cream & Leaf Green
On paper, this color palette certainly reads a bit bold. But when done right, leaf green, pumpkin orange, and rich gray-brown can pair beautifully together. Here, the charcoal brown is the hero color, while the green and orange are brought in via unexpected ceiling wallpaper. The end result feels surprisingly subtle and unique.
12. Dusty Blush and Taupe
On the softer side of earth tones, dusty blush and warm taupe look particularly elegant together. Consider this tried-and-true color combo if your space leans modern-traditional or classic — it’s subtle, feminine, and refined. Add a hint of drama with a marble coffee table, black throw pillows, and luxe velvet drapes.
13. Emerald, British Tan & Wheat
This earthy color palette has “fall” written all over it. The emerald green keeps things fresh and crisp, while the tan and wheat bring in some grounding warmth. Pair it with bold wallpaper and leather-bound books for a timeless, classic aesthetic.
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