Explore the bolder side of the color palette.

How to Decorate a Living Room with Earth Colors

by Lisa Monroe

Wash away the stress of your busy life by creating a harmonious atmosphere in your family home using colors pulled from nature. Whether you want to completely redecorate your living room, or simply add a few subtle accents in browns, tans and greens, these earth-tone colors combine with virtually any style of interior decor.

The Color Palette

When determining your color palette, apply the color rule of 60-30-10. Your walls account for 60 percent, making it the prominent color; upholstery fabrics represent 30 percent, the secondary color; and your accents should cover the remaining 10 percent. If you are decorating your living room in an earth tone, consider cream walls, brown furniture and green plants. Combine different shades of the same color since earth tones all complement each other. If your upholstered furniture has wooden trim, different grains and shades of wood naturally blend.

Walls and Floors

Contrast the colors of your walls and floors. Too much darkness looks depressing, while too many light shades are overbearing. Combine dark-wood laminate flooring with walls painted or wallpapered in a light earth tone such as cream. Wood paneling or wainscoting adds a sense of nature. Add random pops of color in your artwork; pictures of scenic country images or wildlife naturally fit the theme.

Furniture and Window Treatments

Use natural wood finishes. To achieve an Old World style, use hand-carved dark woods, while if you prefer a more contemporary feel, use tight-grained light woods with angular edges. Opt for black, cream and brown upholstery. When you use browns and blacks, an earth-tone room can look gloomy, so counter the darker colors with white or cream curtains or blinds. Alternatively, hang an olive-green valance.


You have free reign in color accents, so explore the bolder side of the color palette in your accessories. Incorporate hints of orange, red and yellow, using candles or pillow throws to add a sun-kissed effect. Add a floral arrangement in more dramatic colors, or, in keeping with the earth-tone theme, add a few green house plants. A brightly colored lamp base or lampshade injects a bolder color into the mix.

About the Author

Based in Somerset, Lisa Monroe has worked as a professional interior designer since 1998. In 2012, Monroe started putting her knowledge into practice, writing articles for both online and offline publications. She holds a degree in creative arts from Bath Spa University.

Photo Credits

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