Mother Nature's got it going on. That's why so many people choose to decorate their apartments using an earthy color palette.
When done right, earth tones can make any room feel almost as serene and organic as the great outdoors but with the added benefit of climate control. When not done properly, however, an au natural color palette is the ultimate snooze fest.
Avoid a sea of boring beige by using earthy tones in a variety of mediums.
If you're clueless about what an earthy color palette actually is, it's a simple concept. Think of it as a spectrum of colors inspired by Mother Nature herself. Every color you see outside, from dark brown tree bark to the greenest of grass, is part of the earth tone family.
In your search for the right colors, keep in mind that brown is only the beginning. Khaki, clay, wheat, espresso, burnt orange, gold, honey, terra cotta, auburn, caramel, rust and chocolate are some earthy colors ranging from muted to vibrant that might pique your interest.
Earth tones go far beyond the brown family, though. Shades of green, such as those inspired by moss and trees, fall into the category, too. Cool gray-blue shades seen in ocean waters and even the sky both qualify. Earth tones are not shiny or bejeweled out in nature.
In your apartment, opt for flat, muted versions, rather than their high-gloss counterparts. The idea is to make your apartment reflect real nature, not a supercharged version.
Renters prefer earth tones for a couple of different reasons. First, it's a truly timeless look. That trendy emerald green or pinkish-purple might be all the rage one day, but fads have a way of quickly running their course. Then, you're left to switch items out to keep up with the times.
Earth tones are popular also because they mix well with other colors. If you're unsure about how to mix earth tones with brighter colors, use accessories to test it out. Small decor items, like pillows, easily showcase what works and what doesn't. If you love 'em, then leave 'em. If not, pop back to the store of purchase for an easy-peasy exchange.
Another approach that many novice decorators try is to use multiple shades of earth tones all in one space. With a range from dark to light, you'll avoid the usual and predictable panache of taupe, tan, cream and off-white. Just make sure there's plenty of light in the space if you plan to incorporate darker earth tones, as they can create a dark, overly dramatic space. Although caves certainly are part of nature, you don't want your home to look like one.
Before you even get started with the earthy color palette, take some time to think about the shades you love most in nature.
If possible, go for a walk for inspiration or consult old vacation photos! Then, sketch out a plan for what you'd like each room to look and feel like. Easily achieve the desired effect by using some (or all!) of these decorating tips.
Nothing transforms a room quite like a coat of fresh paint. If your landlord allows, redo an entire room at a time in a neutral earth tone, such as a beige with gray undertones. Such a shade goes with all types of furniture and decor, so it's easy to accessorize.
Or, select an accent wall to make a statement in a bolder color like moss green or rainy-day blue.
Nature is full of different textures, from tree bark to smooth as glass ponds. Even a room that sticks with the same two or three colors can stand out if the decorator incorporates multiple textures.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is through decorative pillows wrapped in a variety of earthy fabrics, such as burlap, linen, jacquard and other woven materials. Pillow cover construction also plays a part, as those with cable knit or tassels made of different materials add an extra layer of oomph compared to flat fabric.
Way back before plastic became a thing, people made bowls, pots, vases and other items using earth-based materials. Decor made with vivid terra cotta or clay adds gorgeous red and orange tones to any space.
Or, opt for hand-painted ceramic containers and wooden pieces to add a truly woodsy element.
Is there anything more earthy than actual plant life? A splash of greenery easily offers an outdoorsy element to any room. Hanging ferns are a low-maintenance option, or pot a few small indoor plants and place them near natural light.
If you're feeling extra saucy create your own windowsill herb and spice garden! Don't have much of a green thumb? Faux plants are just fine, and most people can't tell the difference, anyway.
Artwork inspired by nature is an easy way to work earth tones into your setting. A statement painting or photograph of a picturesque mountain range is a beautiful focal point to design the rest of the room around. Artwork featuring animals and all types of flora and fauna lend the same effect, as well.
Be sure to pick something that really speaks to your aesthetic and interests, to keep it interesting.
One effective way to decorate in an earthy color palette is to keep most of the furniture neutral in tone with a piece or two that really pops. The ideal way to achieve this effect is with a love seat or chair in one of the more vivid earth tones (like burnt orange or grassy green). Tie it together with the rest of the room by sprinkling other pictures or decor items (frames, vases, etc.) throughout in the same general shade.
Is there anything more soothing than turning a nice, smooth stone over and over again in your hand? Make this feeling a permanent fixture in your apartment by adding stones to the decor.
It's important not to overdo this, though, as you don't want your home to resemble a 16th-century castle. A simple decorative bowl of attractive river rocks is enough to achieve the effect. Or top off the soil of houseplants with a smattering of stones.
Glassware is often blown in earthy colors, especially browns and greens. A few well-placed glass vases, bottles, bowls and even jars will lend an extra earth tone or two to your space. Dress them with dried flowers to achieve a nice, natural vibe.
Add an attractive turtle or fish aquarium for a splash of actual nature in your space. Of course, this isn't for everyone because aquariums require regular maintenance and care, but animal enthusiasts certainly appreciate the addition of a living, breathing thing (or things).
There's also the added benefit that these types of pets usually don't require a pet deposit!
Select furniture pieces made from metals found in nature (or at least those that look that way). Great options include wood blinds, leather furniture (real or faux) and pieces made of distressed wood or metal. This will bring some legit wood and metallic tones into the space.
Textiles are an easy way to add texture, color and personality to your home. Plus, a well-placed living room rug will cover up that standard-issue apartment carpeting for something far more interesting.
It's also an effective way to tie the three or four most dominant colors in a space together, thus making any room seem instantly more cohesive.
If understated is your jam, a mostly taupe room is a great way to go.
Somewhere between brown and gray, “taupe" actually gets its name from the French word for “mole," thanks to the rodent's color. With roots in virtually every aspect of nature (non-rodent, included), taupe is a versatile color that can is easy to dress up, but also does well left to its own devices.
Just don't spill any red wine and you'll be all good.
Whereas fresh flowers are pretty pricey and short-lived, dried or silk flowers are a cost-efficient and long-lasting way to bring extra earth tones inside.
Frame some dried flowers and display them proudly on the walls or floating shelves. Or visit the local craft store and select artificial stems in the earth tones of your choice. Play around with arranging them in a vase or two until you achieve just the right effect.
Lighting makes a huge difference in how effective any decorating effort is. This is particularly the case with rooms that feature a lot of darker earth tones. Lighten up the space by improving upon the area's lighting. Hopefully, you have at least some natural lighting to work with, so keep the blinds and curtains open whenever possible.
A couple of well-placed wall mirrors will also reflect any incoming sunlight, plus they'll have the added benefit of making the room look bigger! Then, switch out standard-issue light bulbs for some that will better illuminate your space. LED bulbs with a warm yellow “color temperature" are great for general living needs.
Handmade items, such as woven baskets, just scream nature. Liberally sprinkle such pieces around your home to give off an authentic, earthy vibe. Baskets hold everything from magazines to remote controls, and they look good doing it.
Earth tones are warm, inviting and truly timeless. Using a few of these tips for incorporating an earthy color palette, it will be easy to keep your decor updated without spending a fortune.