Nature-Inspired Color Palettes
Bring the great outdoors inside! Take your hue cues from Mother Nature and build decorating themes and color schemes that are sure to please through every season.
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Inspired by trips through flowerbeds, vegetable plots, and produce aisles, this yellow-tinted green palette makes every day feel like spring. Granny Smith apple green takes on the starring role; supporting players include peapod, celery, lemon, and kiwi. Bright whites, seen here as tulip petals, round out the fresh-picked palette.
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White walls, woodwork, and a slipcovered sofa allow green to take center stage. Strategically introduced as a pair of lattice-pattern chairs, a solid tufted ottoman, and flowery accent pillows, yellow-tone greens work with orange, brown, and gilded accessories to take the chill off the room's bright-white perimeter.
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The soothing shades of ocean waves shift from green to blue depending on weather conditions and changing light. Similar color variations arise in this green-tinted palette of blues that combines turquoise, aqua, teal, azure, and baby blue.
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Sea and sky colors beautifully meld in this space that doubles as a nursery and sitting room. A grass-cloth wallcovering that weaves together rich navy, soft cornflower, and turquoise establishes the palette. The baby blue sofa and like-color chevrons on an area rug introduce upbeat rhythms; ocean artwork rendered in deep-sea hues supplies some drama. White woodwork, frames, and accessories keep the look buoyant and breezy.
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Exotic locales produce distinctive color schemes, including this palette that features coffee-bean brown. Putty gray and creamy white supply cooler counterpoints to the warm brown, while yellow, citron, and leafy green evoke images of sunbeams, tropical blooms, and verdant growth.
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Nothing turns up the temperature better than brown walls. The warm tone envelops this study in coziness. Golden wood finishes, a throw splashed with copper, and a bronze side table blend forest-harvested hues and textures. White woodwork, an upholstered chair, and a cowhide rug pop against the room's dark surfaces; yellowish-green foliage and flowers give the room a refreshing lift.
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Sea critters, tropical fruits, and breaking waves inspire this pumped-up palette. Pale, midtone, and saturated oranges -- including shades of shrimp, papaya, tangerine, coral, and blood orange -- combine with complementary blues to fashion high-impact designs.
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The citrusy scheme takes a formal turn in this elegantly appointed living room. Blood orange drapery and upholstery fabrics set a classic tone, while papaya pops as a throw on the neutral sofa and a pattern on lamp bases. Lighter orange shades and deep blues appear on the area rug.
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Greens found in forests, orchards, and terrariums play well together in designs ranging from contemporary to cottage. This palette, which includes olive, turquoise, aloe, clover, and citron, combines warm yellowish greens with cooler greens sporting blue and dusty undertones.
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Sun-drenched olive walls supply a luxurious background for a chic mix of motifs, fabric patterns, and touchable patinas. Bright citron green and turquoise pop on flocked chair fabric and partner with blue coral wall prints to give this chic dining room a strikingly coordinated point of view.
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Terra-cotta, putty, khaki, taupe, and amber colors evoke images of rocky landscapes, prehistoric finds, and sandy deserts. Ranging from light to dark, the tones nicely play off one another to quietly add dimension to rooms meant for relaxing.
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Spice Route Vibes
Saturated amber tones practically glow in this neutrally decorated space. Thanks to khaki walls and taupe sofa fabric, the warm tone impresses as drapery panels and throw pillows. Khaki repeats as a pair of leather-upholstered seats and a parchment-shaded lamp. Taupe tones darken and pop as brown embellishments on the chairs.
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Although this stony-tone palette's charcoal and ash grays read as cool, reddish undertones heat up the cocoa brown, cream, and khaki hues to create a perfectly balanced mix of warm and cold temperatures. Try this palette in rooms outfitted with naturally warm-stained cabinets, flooring, and furniture.
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Brown-stained furniture finishes and a woven khaki area rug provide warm counterpoints to this dining room's ash gray walls. Charcoal gray fabrics on the armchairs take on a bluish cast that subtly reflects the color of nearby draperies. Shimmering mirrors contribute yet another shade of gray to the fine-tuned medley.
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Composed of red-tinted and blue-shaded purples, this scheme combines a flower's most vivid hues with its softest tones. Use the perennially pleasing palette, which includes fuchsia, orchid, hibiscus, mauve, and magenta, to cultivate distinctive designs.
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This neutral bedroom presents dusty and crisp purples in multiple ways. Deep orchid makes a splash as patterned and solid pillow shams; paler purple appears as a downy comforter. A magenta throw and mauve accessories keep the eye moving throughout the space.
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Yellow shades of straw, cream, egg yolk, banana, and butter emit sunny vibes, making this a popular palette for brightening kitchens and work spaces. The lively hues create bedrooms and bathrooms that issue cheery wake-up calls.
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Straw yellow, which appears as painted walls, wallpaper, and drapery fabric, provides a fine foundation for more vivacious yellows that amplify this bedroom's appeal. A banana yellow comforter and pillow shams step back to let brown-and-orange throw pillows and a marigold blanket shine. Check out the area rug: It pulls together the varying shades of yellow with high impact.
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This palette revolves around the popular neutral greige, pictured at top. Depending on light and color companions, greige can read as gray or beige, making it a versatile hue that works with both stone and wood tones. Here, it partners with pearl gray, khaki, putty, and steely gray to fashion a light-and-shadow palette ideally suited to creating peaceful retreats in a range of decorating styles.
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White wainscoting and trim highlight this room's going-greige walls and window shades. Steely grays stand out as a woven basket and a solid-color lampshade, while lighter gray linens soften the bed and a putty-hue cowhide rug warms the floor. Note how well the greige backdrop works with ebony floors and wood furniture's stained finishes.
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When tossed together, spearmint, putty, aloe, true mint, and white generate well-rounded green scenes. Tinted with blue, the refreshing green shades read as cool, bright, and fashionable.
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Minty greens, whether light or dark in tone, are flexible hues that act as neutrals yet demand attention. Here, mint walls handily showcase white elements, a fetching fireplace, and silver, glass, and gold accessories. A navy throw and turquoise pieces on the mantel pick up on the wall color's blue undertones.
Next Slideshow 9 Designer Color Palettes
9 Designer Color PalettesAre you craving a colorful new look but are stumped about where to start? We asked a handful of designers to share the color palettes they're using now to give rooms a refresh. (We've given the paint match for each color so you can use the paint chips to coordinate fabric, furniture, and more.)Begin Slideshow »