Earth tones are colors that—well, look like earth. But they aren’t just mud or soil colors. There’s an entire range of beautiful earth-inspired hues, and they’re making a big comeback in everything from art to interior design from their last surge in popularity in the ’70s.
With some knowledge of color theory and the psychology of color, you can make earth tones work for any art or design project you’re planning. Read on to learn more about this essential part of the color spectrum.
What Are Earth Tones?
When used in art, design, and branding, earth tones are colors that resemble earth in some way. Interpreted narrowly, earth tones are any colors that contain brown—from a light sandy beige to a deep chocolate mocha. More broadly speaking, earth tones are any that invoke a natural feel. This might include yellows and oranges, earthy greens, some grays, as well as browns.
Earth tones are generally warm, but they can be mixed with other colors in a scheme to create cool or colorful overall effects.
What Colors Are Earth Tones?
Especially in interior design, you might come across a wide variety of creative names used for earth tone colors. Think of paint colors with names such as “Pheasant” or “Roasted Russet” The following list includes some, but definitely not all, colors that are considered earth tones.
Earth Tone Decor
Earth tones can be used in home decor in everything from the floors (whether carpet, tile, or wood) to the wallpaper or paint to the curtains. You may choose to decorate a whole room in earth tones or to pick a few elements and contrast them with pops of color or contrasting or complementary tones.
Paint colors can set the tone for a whole room. They often come with inventive (you could sometimes even say “out there”) names, including these earth tone paint colors:
- Petrified Oak
- Tawny Birch
- Spice Route
- Baked Clay
Earth tones are often combined with other tones and colors for interior design. Here are a few pretty examples of earth tone home decor that show how versatile earthy colors can be.
Down to Earth (Tones)
If you’re interested in learning more about where earth tones sit on the color wheel (or what the color wheel is in the first place!), check out an introduction to color theory class. Whether you love experimenting with color in your art and design or don’t know where to begin, learning about complementary colors and other aspects of color theory and psychology can help shape your creative process. Trial and error is a great thing in your art and craft, but making informed decisions about color is even better.
All the Colors of the Rainbow
Color Theory 101: Using Color in Art & Design