An Interior Designer’s Guide to Incorporating Earth Tones

After years of gravitating toward greys and whites, we’re increasingly feeling drawn to earthy tones—and apparently, we’re not alone. Whether it’s due to a shift in trends or a collective instinct to seek out soothing colors during an uncertain time, nature-inspired hues seem to be having a moment. Recently, we reached out to Heather Smith of Circa Interiors & Antiques in Charlotte, North Carolina, for advice on how to successfully incorporate an earthy palette into our homes. Here, she shares how to use the familiar colors to create a serene environment that is rich, deep, and sophisticated.

Explore the potential pairings. “Earth tones are familiar to us, from the forests to the oceans. Because of this, they can be used in any space, in any combination,” Smith says. Since they pair well together in nature, she says you can expect the hues—think ochre, terra-cotta, burnt sienna, olive, Prussian blue, and merlot—to work with just about any pattern, material, or style.

Feel free to start off small. If you’re wary of making a big shift, Smith suggest incorporating warmer hues with gold or brass accents, live greenery, and brown wood furniture. You can also bring in new earth-toned accent colors in accessories like pillows, lamps, or artwork to warm up the existing cooler tones you might currently be living with.

Embrace the power of paint. While it may feel like a major commitment, paint is the most impactful way to adopt the earth tone trend (and you can always change it later). Plus, Smith says there are a variety of options to fit your comfort level. “Go for the monochromatic look—walls, ceiling, and trim all in the same color; opt for a dramatic accent wall; or try your hand at a color-blocked mural,” she suggests. Not sure where to start in terms of selecting a shade? Smith’s go-to neutral paint color is Farrow & Ball’s Shadow White, and favorite warm, earthy accent colors are the company’s Setting PlasterEating Room RedBrinjalGreen Smoke, and Hague Blue. Searching for a black option? Smith’s favorite is Sherwin Williams’s Greenblack, which she says has depth and richness thanks to the added drop of green.

Photography by Chris Edwards. TSG Tip 366 from Heather Smith of Circa in Charlotte, North Carolina. Circa is featured in The Scout Guide Charlotte.