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Earth Tones Defined (+ How to Use Them In the Home)

Earth tones are the natural colors contained in rocks, soil, grass and every other earth element.

What Are Earth Tones?

Earth tones are most often defined as the naturally-occurring colors found in dirt, grass and rocks. However, some designers and color experts expand the definition to include sky, water, flowers and other (more colorful) elements.

How Do You Decorate with Earth Tones?

No matter how inexperienced you may be as a decorator, it is virtually impossible to ‘mess up’ when decorating with earth tones. This is because Mother Nature is the ultimate decorator – she’s been around way longer than you and me and knows a thing or two about which colors go together. Which is to say: look outside. Looking at the ground below, you’ll see how the sprightly green of the grass plays off the warmth of the dark soil. Depending on your locale, you may spot the fiery passion of reddish clay, the cooling balance of grey rocks or the softening effect of beige sand.

Indeed, the earth knows a thing or two about aesthetic, so the next time you’re in a decorating pinch, just look outside – the colors you need are all spelled out for you. Choose a few of your favorites, incorporate them into your living space, and get ready to ‘wow’ your guests with a home that feels effortlessly pulled together.

Is Blue an Earth Tone?

Since some abide by the notion that earth tones encompass only the colors found in earth (dirt), and since others abide by the notion that earth tones encompass any color found in nature, the answer to the question above depends on whom you ask. According to the second camp: yes, blue is an earth tone, since it’s the color of sky and water. (According to the first camp, no, not so much; the last time we checked, the bottom of our shoes after walking around in the dirt all day aren’t blue – just various shades of brown!)

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.