If there’s one thing you’re noticing in friends’ homes lately, it’s probably color. And while we’ve greeted varied hues with open arms, from soft shades to vibrant hues, it’s warm, earthy tones that seem to have really captured our attention.
According to Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball, the ‘grey mania’ is well and truly over and over the last three years, color has been creeping into its place. ‘It started small, experimenting with small bits of color, but people are truly embracing it now,’ she explains. ‘The most notable thing is that people’s colors of choice have become much warmer. Now it’s very much about the earthy tones.’
Embracing these comforting colors is now, officially, on our radar, but you might find certain hurdles to overcome before you feel confident to commit. How can you be sure your colors won’t clash? Will they work with your existing furniture? What effect will your room’s natural lighting have?
These are all important questions, and the key to figuring them out is to first understand what these muted hues can bring to a home. ‘Warmth is the key to a snug feeling room,’ explains Edward Bulmer, founder of Edward Bulmer Natural Paint. ‘I see more earth pigment-based warmth gathering favor lately, and I’d even suggest brown as a wall paint in support of clever color in artwork and furnishings.’
If you’re hoping to introduce this warm color trend into your home, we’ve rustled up some advice from designers and color curators who know how to do it best.
If you want to make a color statement, the best place to do so is in your entryway. As the first space people see when they cross the threshold, first impressions rest on its shoulders. Introducing an earthy color palette as soon as you open the front door will set the right tone for the theme to continue.
But it’s not just for the benefit of visitors. Introducing warm colors to the first walls in your home that you lay your eyes upon will make you feel, well, at home. ‘People’s homes are their sanctuaries and they want them to feel like they’re nurturing them,’ explains Joa from Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab), ‘Earthy hues make you feel like your home is giving you a great big hug when you come through the door – that is the nature of warmer tones.’
For an entryway, an uplifting color is a good choice as it offers a cheery greeting to whoever walks in. ‘I personally love faded terracotta, which in the Farrow & Ball range would best translate to our Red Earth,’ says Joa. ‘Farrow & Ball’s Jitney is a sort of transition from gray to a warmer tone, too. That’s also very uplifting and has a slightly beachy feel to it.’
‘Jitney is the name of the bus that takes you from New York to The Hamptons on a Friday night,’ she adds, ‘and so the idea with the color is that it takes you out of the greyness of the city to the warmness of the beach.’
Because warm hues are comforting, they make a great addition to the bedroom. Although some colors such as blue and white need the help of an earthier pigment, any color can be warm – it doesn’t necessarily mean reds, yellows and neutrals.
‘We are seeing a lot of bedrooms incorporate grounding and peaceful colors inspired by the earth,’ says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams (opens in new tab), ‘Warm browns, deep greens and calming blues will be at the forefront as homeowners are bringing the outdoors in through design.’
In the bedroom, Sue explains that this is all about using soft, calming colors to instill a sense of tranquillity: ‘We’ve seen so many homeowners use paint to create a restorative sanctuary in their bedrooms which is where they need it most, because our bedrooms are where we begin and end our days.’
While other rooms might feel too dark with all-brown walls, Sue thinks the bedroom is the perfect place. ‘Rooted in nature, our color Urbane Bronze creates a sense of calm, safety and security. I recommend painting it on all four walls in a bedroom for a cozy, cocoon feeling,’ she says.
3. Living rooms
Like the bedroom, the living room is a place for relaxation. For an earth tone living room, consider blues, greens and purples, all of which are said to have calming effects.
‘Use restful colors that help you – specifically you – relax,’ says British-based designer, Russell Sage (opens in new tab), ‘My hero Karen Beauchamp, a former creative director of Cole & Son, once told me that if a color is to feel like home then it should have a touch of the earth to it. So instead of going with banana yellow, opt for one with a hint of brown in it.’
As with the bedroom, you can experiment with whichever color takes your fancy in the living room. To achieve an earthy and warm color scheme, the only rule is to not go bright or cold. ‘I’m drawn to cognac leather tones,’ says Russell. ‘These are palettes that look good in any light. Nothing so bright it smacks you between the eyes when you want to watch telly.’
What colors work well with earth tones?
You might be feeling inspired to build a colorful scheme that consists purely of earthy tones, and we don’t blame you. But warm colors can be used alongside cooler colors, too.
Try experimenting with earthy color combinations, like browns and deep reds, then introduce a bright, cool color to contrast. This works well on smaller details, like a bookshelf or door trim, but a statement wall could work just as well instead.
‘Think of warm-toned earthy shades such as terracotta oranges, clay-tinted pinks and creamy ochres,’ says color expert Annie Sloane (opens in new tab), ‘Then, add a “disrupter” shade, such as a cool toned blue to contrast with, and therefore emphasize, the qualities of those comforting warm shades.’