The term “earth tones” covers a wide array of colours—neutrals like beige, ivory, and grey, as well as intense shades found in nature such as terracotta, mustard, forest green, and deep browns. Looking at swatches of these colours should evoke the essence of forests, beaches, and fields—capturing the beauty of the earth at its purest.
Bringing these colours to your living space can make for a warm and relaxing atmosphere, suiting both modern and rustic interiors with the right styling. This guide will show you how to beautify your space with these colours and create a balance that is lively and calming all at once.
Create a cohesive color palette
Given that earth tones span extensively across the spectrum, it’s essential to create a colour palette for your interior to ensure that your walls and décor work well together. Make sure you use colours of the same tone to avoid clash or mismatches.
For a simple look, it’s best to select two earth tones as complementary colours—one shade for your walls and the other shade for your accent. While this can be done with neutrals alone, combinations of light shades, like sand or tan, and more intense earth tones like terracotta or forest green, can provide good contrast.
Other factors to consider for your chosen colour palette is the size of the space you’ll be decorating and its purpose. Darker colours tend to make rooms look smaller, while lighter colours can do the opposite. Brighter colours are best for social areas, while more muddled and smoky colours are best for quiet, tranquil spots.
Play with textures and materials
Returning to the inspirations of these colours, opt for accent pieces with natural textures such as fur, wood, pebbles, and linen. Textured wall or floor panels in earth tones can also serve to break up both colour and large spaces.
Another good way to bring out the earthy tones in your living space is by making use of décor from natural materials. Clay jars, driftwood, pieces of bark, and corals can add an organic touch to complete the overall design and add character to space.
Try to mix and match different finishes and textures to keep your interior interesting while remaining harmonious with the theme. Don’t be afraid to add these elements to more modern styling as a swatch of contrast.
Add a pop of colour for brightness
Another way to build on earth tones is to make use of key pieces with pops of bright colours amidst a monochromatic design. With neutral walls and furniture, splashes of colour can come from vases, throw pillows, hanging fixtures, and even house plants.
Light neutrals like beige or grey serve as a lovely contrast to pops of yellow, Kelly green, and orange. At a loss for colour combinations? Visualize a nature scene—a flower blooming amidst shrubs, the shoreline of a beach, the first sprouts of spring—and translate it into your design.
Stick to an overall mood
Part of what makes earth tones workable for a variety of interiors is the range of colours that can be used to set a space’s ‘mood.’ A cool-toned wall colour scheme using light grey or beige can offer a more soothing feel, especially when paired with wood furnishings of the same tone.
Ensure that the furnishing and overall design are in harmony for what space is for. Plush couches and reading nooks invite lounging and relaxation, while austere tables and chairs can imply an air of business. Art pieces on your walls can also heighten a certain mood while aligning with your chosen earth tones.
Be careful with window treatments
Windows provide your space with natural sources of light and should be part of your interior redecoration. Using natural wood finishes—hand-carved dark wood for more rustic styling or tight-grained, angular lightwood for more modern styling—can make all the difference in the room.
However, regardless of your room’s colours, having heavy and dark-coloured curtains can counter the warmth and liveliness of your space. Instead, opt for curtains or blinds in cream or lighter neutral colours.
In designing your home one step at a time, the most crucial part is to understand the quirks of earth tones and work with them in way that they bring out the best out of your spaces. By following this guide, you’ll have a home that is stylish and embraces the essence of the outdoors.