In describing colors, "earthy" and "organic" are often used interchangeably, and they refer to hues taken from the natural world. If you love spending time in nature, hiking or camping, for instance, these brown-influenced hues may appeal to you. Not only are they the shades of a particular outdoor locale -- the moss green and fallen-tree brown of a forest, for example -- they often recall seasonal changes in the environment, such as snowdrift white or autumn leaf red. To find these hues at the paint store, look for color names that reference living things, such as daffodil petal, birch bark, or quaking aspen. And if you don't see something you like on a chip, take in a river stone or a lilac snipped from your yard to have the quintessentially earthy hue matched.
Decide how you want to dive in and start with our earthy paint color picks to help you create your look. Note: Actual colors may appear differently than on screen. Always consult paint color chips. Palettes designed by Khristian A. Howell.
To give your living room a dressy dose of sophisticated earthy color, use rich and shimmery neutral shades like oyster or black pearl. For a semicasual look, the natural stone stacked around a fireplace surround will yield copper, pebble tan, and slate blue to pull into wall colors. Finally, there are the laid-back shades of natural tanned leather and suede, which you can use for upholstery and pillow covers.
Earthy colors can also be soft and romantic, like mist gray and lavender, which are perfect for a bedroom space. For a frilly feminine look, use lavender as the wall color. For a more gender-neutral rendition, put mist gray on the walls. Select a black bed, and dress it with linens that match your wall color and throw in hints of darker gray and chalk white. If you prefer a warmer look, earthy bedroom colors, such as taupe, driftwood, and mossy green will come across as cozy, rather than cool.
Many kitchen implements inspire earthy color choices: carbon steel paring blades, a maple wood butcher block, the terra-cotta of a clay terrine, and the blue flame of a gas burner for instance. To use these colors in a scheme, choose stainless-steel appliances, natural-finish maple wood cabinets, terra-cotta floor tiles, and a backsplash that is a bright midtone blue.
Earthy colors will make a dining room feel cozy. Walls the color of lichen and a bark-brown floor combine for a woodsy look. Paint trim or furniture a cottony white for contrast, then add layers of other browns and greens, such as mushroom and pear, in accessories and linens.
Organic colors are welcome introductions in a bathroom, which can often feel cold and sterile. To warm the space, choose earthy reds and oranges, such as russet, bronze, and umber for paint and tile color. Green is red's complementary shade, so towels could be pine or sage. If possible, skip white fixtures and choose almond or biscuit instead.
Use an earthy color inspired by an adjacent space in your entryway. For example, if you have a leafy green armchairs in your living room, reinterpret that color for your walls in your entryway. Stone or stone-look ceramic tile floors are prime picks for an earthy entry because they not only carry the theme, but they are durable and easy to clean -- both perks in a high-traffic space. In smaller strokes, use rustic wood furniture and accessories that nod to nature, such as driftwood, agates and botanical prints, to set the theme.