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Earth tones: how to use a neutral palette in your home decor

Learn about the earth tone colours and how to use a natural palette in your decor scheme

Matt emulsion paint in Brave Ground, Tranquil Dawn and Cobalt Night, £30.04 for 2.5L each, Dulux

Many of us are seeking a sense of stability and comfort this year, which has people heading for the hills to soak up the steady pleasures of rural life. But if leaving the city isn’t on the cards for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate the grounding feel of the countryside into your interior scheme.

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Earth tones are – quite literally – rooted in nature, which means they have a soothing effect. Plus, they’re fairly neutral colours, so you can mix them easily with other shades, too. If you love the look of these shades, you’ll love the Japandi style trend, which favours an earthy colour palette. And don’t forget to add the finishing touches with our pick of the best earth tone home accessories too.

Read on to see how you can style up your scheme with these comforting colours.

What colours are earth tones?

Earth tone colours are soothing, versatile hues which are inspired by nature to bring a sense of rest and relaxation. The earth tone colour palette consists of muddy shades such as taupe, dark chocolate, moss and forest green, and Dulux’s Colour of the Year, Brave Ground. These colours are also used alongside other sunnier earth tones such as baked terracotta and warm mustard.

How to use earth tones in your décor

If you want the earth tone palette to make a big impact, then start with the walls. Treat taupe or Brave Ground as a neutral colour then pair it with accessories and furnishings in mossy green and mustard shades. Alternatively, if you’re keen on channelling the cosy feel of earth tones but don’t want the space to feel too dark, then make a feature of the shades instead. Paint one wall in a deep chocolate brown then the rest of the room in a pale green or a light earth tone such as taupe. Whatever shade you choose, these colours are guaranteed to bring you a sense of ease and warmth. Here’s our top six shades to help you achieve the earth tone look…

Taupe decor ideas

Metropolitan Field tile in Hibiscus, £89.95 per sq m, Original Style
Metropolitan Field tile in Hibiscus, £89.95 per sq m, Original Style

For a rustic feel with timeless appeal, opt for the ultimate earth-toned neutral: taupe. Its classic look lends style to your space and it also has the benefit of being extremely versatile, which means it will match well with a spectrum of other colours.

Brave Ground decor ideas

Matt emulsion paint in Brave Ground, £30.04 for 2.5L each, Dulux
Matt emulsion paint in Brave Ground, £16 for 2.5 L, Dulux

If you needed any more evidence that neutral decor is super on-trend, Dulux named Brave Ground their Colour of the Year for 2021. This colour echoes the fabric of the earth with clay, soil and stone – and what can be more grounding than that? Blend this colour with any of the other earth tones and they will complement each other perfectly.

Terracotta decor ideas

Estate 6-10-seater extending dining table, £899; Estate four-seater bench, £399; Linen cushion in Plaster, £30; Washed cotton cushion in Slate, £30; Chevron knot jute rug, £100; Le Creuset stoneware coffee press, £57; West Elm ceramic carafe vase, £25.50; Original BTC Christie ceiling light, £439, all John Lewis & Partners

Orange-based tones are also representative of earthy colours, especially clay-baked terracotta. The solid feel of terracotta combined with its strong hue creates a sense of stability but also a feeling of calm as it reminds us of strolling on sun-kissed terrain during holidays abroad.

Chocolate decor ideas

Matt emulsion paint in Amazon Soil, £24 for 0.94L, Benjamin
Matt emulsion paint in Amazon Soil, £24 for 0.94L, Benjamin Moore

Dark colours bring warmth and cosiness to a room, and none more so than this deep chocolate brown. Pair this earthy shade with rusty orange and soft cream to enhance the snug and homely atmosphere.

Deep green decor ideas

Aura matte paint in Hunter Green, £28 for 0.94L, Benjamin Moore
Aura matte paint in Hunter Green, £28 for 0.94L, Benjamin Moore

Dark green with a hint of yellow is extremely soothing as it’s associated with fresh leafy forests and moss-topped ground. So, cocoon yourself in this nature-inspired colour to boost your sense of calm and comfort.

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If you can’t get enough of these deep, foresty tones, check out our guide to using green in your kitchen.