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Burnt Sienna Color Guide: Get Toasty

Warm up your space with a little burnt sienna! Here’s everything you need to know about this toasty color.

What Is Burnt Sienna Color?

Burnt sienna pigment is a deep red-brown color that resembles the earthy substance known as sienna.
Sienna, in its natural state, gets its coloring from iron oxide and manganese minerals. When heated, the hue of the earth pigment deepens or darkens, creating a “burnt” look.
In terms of appearance, burnt sienna is in the family of red clay and terracotta, sharing the same reddish-brown undertones. Even though burnt sienna is technically a neutral, its red tint makes it come alive – making it feel like a (non-neutral) color.

Raw Sienna vs. Burnt Sienna

Raw sienna (terra di siena) is light, burnt sienna is dark. How the two are differentiated on a physical level? Natural burnt sienna is simply raw sienna that’s been heated. Both can be classified as warm colors.

Dark Sienna vs. Burnt Sienna

If you’re an artist, you may have also come across the term dark sienna. This name for a shade of paint, crayon or colored pencil is simply that – a name for a color (most likely, someone, somewhere decided it looks like a darker version of sienna, and boom, the color name was born). Whereas the burnt name refers to an actual burnt version of an earth element, dark refers to shade only.

What Is the Burnt Sienna Color Association?

Burnt sienna is associated with all things rustic and artistic – thanks to the history of the mineral.

Before modern artist’s tools were widespread, since the time of the ancient Romans, raw sienna and burnt sienna were savored for their high pigmentation, and used for drawing and various painting techniques. The name ‘sienna’ actually comes from the place where it was “discovered”: Siena, Italy. (And, fun fact: terra rossa, a cognate of sorts, is the term used in English for "red soil" or "red earth." Translated directly from the Italian, the phrase means, you guessed it, red soil or red ochre. "Terra gialla," too, means "yellow earth" or yellow ochre and is used sometimes in English to describe a bright-colored soil. Each of these phrases, widely used throughout names for sienna paint colors, watercolors and paint companies today, affirms Italy's part in the discoveries and appeal of burnt sienna.)

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Pictured above, a rug featuring shades of burgundy and sienna plays off a calming woodsy dining set.
Pictured above: home decor featuring lighter, brighter shades of burnt sienna.

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What Colors Go with Burnt Sienna?

Thanks to its earthy coloring, burnt sienna emits rustic, natural vibes, and is often the hallmark of the Southwestern style – especially when paired with bright turquoise, yellow or black. 
Above, black, grey and beige pop out against a gorgeous burnt sienna wall.

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When using the color to decorate a home (Southwestern or otherwise), keep textures raw and unrefined. Because the color of burnt sienna is so “organic” by itself, it complements beautifully with earthy elements like brick, leather, stone and natural wood.

Explore Burnt Sienna

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