Earth tone color scheme ideas in 7 palettes of warm, cool, rich and/or chalky earth color tones for an exquisitely natural, authentic look. I've picked these earth tone color palettes from special places between the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. Earth color tones are more muted and subtle than pure hues from the color wheel, but they still pack a punch!
↑ The historic ochre quarries of Roussillon in the Provence region of France are famous for their vibrant red and yellow iron-oxide pigments. And every visiting photographer wants to shoot the 'French Colorado' of Rustrel against a blazing blue sky - one of the most dramatic orange/blue complementary color palettes ever.
The entire village of Roussillon is painted in a rich natural earth tone color scheme, with added terracotta roof tiles in pale earthy pink. Here's a palette of light earth tone colors from Roussillon:
In this palette, I've included the faded greens and blues of the wooden shutters that are so typical of Provençal villages. (If I had to pick one favorite earth tone color scheme on this page, it would have to be this one!)
You'll find similar, warm earth tone color palettes on the Tuscan color pages!
↑ Stortorget (="the big square") is a historic town square in the old center of Stockholm. Its houses were mostly built in the 17th and 18th centuries, and many are painted in soft earth tone pastel colors.
In the summer, Stortorget is a lovely place to enjoy a cup of coffee, but it's even more charming in December when the Christmas Market is on!
I've left out all the orange and yellow houses in the square, and focused instead on the cool hues and the muted reds. (I figured that by now you've seen enough golden ochre ;-)
Check out more pictures of Swedish country interiors!
↑ Rothenburg is one of those places you have to see to believe they exist.
(And people from all over the world visit every year to verify that Rothenburg does, indeed, exist ;-)
Founded in 1170, the magical medieval town is perched on a fortified hilltop overlooking the valley of the river Tauber, and most of its houses have really stood there since the Middle Ages. They are now painted in mellow earth tone pastel colors, with the occasional pale blue thrown in (I've added the typical red rooftile color of the houses to this palette).
If you're ever in Germany, go see Rothenburg. (It even has a museum & shop dedicated solely to German-style Christmas.)
↑ The most subdued palette on this page comes from an isolated stretch of rocky countryside at the southernmost tip of Greece. The Mani is wild and rugged, and the relentless sun appears to bleach all earth colors.
This color palette would look good in a south-facing, sunny room, but extremely gloomy in a space with little natural light. (After all, the Mani comes with a bright blue sky attached to it!)
If you want to inject more oomph into this earth tone color scheme, try a warm, not-too-bright red accent color - something like pomegranate. (You don't need much, just a few cushions and a piece of wall art maybe, or a vase and a chair. Red will look stunning in this environment, but it's easily overdone.)
Check out the page about red bedrooms for examples of red accents in neutral color schemes!
↑ This color palette comes with its own romantic soundtrack, because the Alhambra is one of the most sublime, awe-inspiring buildings I have ever seen. This earth tone color scheme doesn't come close to the glory of the real thing. (So obviously we need the soundtrack :-)
Built between 889 and 1333 AD, first as a fortress and then as a palace for the Muslim rulers of southern Spain, the interior is covered in the most intricately carved geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy.
Many of the walls are tiled to chest height. Tiling patterns vary, but the colors remain the same throughout: charcoal, zinc white, golden ochre, cerulean blue and a green that varies between bright and dark emerald.
These colors interact beautifully and could easily be used for an interior decorating scheme, particularly against a golden sandstone background, e.g. "natural" walls colorwashed in ochre. Worth a try!
↑ With typical northern European understatement, the Hanseatic City of Lübeck shows off its mediaeval heritage in low-key brick and calm greys.
Deeply steeped in over 1000 years of history, Lübeck is a prime example of the 'Brick Gothic' style that dominates towns around the Baltic Sea. Some houses were later rendered and painted in chalky whites and greys, so a walk through the Old Town of Lübeck is a symphony of muted reds, greys, whites and (occasionally) the green foliage of old trees.
You'll find more, similarly understated earth tone color scheme ideas on the page about brown color palettes!
↑ Few things are as magical as Nordic summer nights, when the sun barely touches the horizon and casts everything in a golden, translucent light.
This blue-green earth tone color scheme reflects the Norwegian coast on a mellow summer evening, with dusky greens and blues transformed by the low, luminous rays. (More green color palettes here!)
Which Colors/Tones Qualify
For An Earth Tone Color Scheme?
When you look closely at pebbles, rocks and sand, you can see all the 'real' colors that go into their seemingly neutral appearance, from vibrant red via rose pink to mineral blues and greens. Actual earth can be any color from the palest grey or yellow ochre to almost-black.
For the purpose of this page, all grayed, chalky, muddied, brownish, faded, dusty, smoky, dirty clay, stone and lichen colors qualify for an earth tone color scheme. Have fun with this - you can't get it wrong!
And here's some additional color inspiration - waaay beyond any earth tone color scheme: