Green With Envy: 5 Reasons Why We Can't Resist Earth Tones
Take a closer look at our favorite go-to hues.
Mother Nature is the ultimate influencer of design — and for a good reason. She's colorful, easy on the eyes and constantly surprises us with her effortless style. Of course we want to bring her good vibes into our homes. (And celebrate all month long, am I right?)
If you’re feeling inspired by all that Mother Nature has to offer, you're definitely not alone. Here are 5 reasons why we're obsessed with earth tones.
1: They Play Well Together
Rustic-Inspired Clubhouse With Midcentury Modern Pizzazz
Paneled walls in a forest green hue pair with mustard yellow chairs and a tobacco stick chandelier to establish a rustic, woodsy-inspired feel in this clubhouse. A midcentury modern coffee table and sofa offset the rustic feel.
Cortney Bishop Design
Earth tones have a tendency to bring out the best in each other, which means that you can (and definitely should) pair them together. For an organic color scheme of your own, check out our national park-inspired palettes.
Smoky Mountains National Park Palette
Set against the dusky blue of the Appalachian Mountains, the rolling hills and rocky cliffsides of Great Smoky Mountains National Park spring to life each June with the blooming of the native Catawba rhododendrons. Found only at elevations greater than 3,500 feet, the large shrubs, loaded with clusters of purple-pink blooms, are a special treat for visitors to the park’s highest peaks, particularly above Chimney Tops Trailhead, Alum Cave Trail and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. To add a pop of their cheery fuchsia hue to your home, try Benjamin Moore Hot Lips (2077-30). For a dose of earthy green, mix a bit of Balsam (567) or Basil Green (2029-10) into your color palette. If blue is your color of choice, take a cue from the mountains’ smoky shade: Schooner (AF-520) works beautifully as a backdrop while the punchy peach of Sausalito Sunset (074) would be best as a small accent. (All colors by Benjamin Moore.)
Rocky Mountain National Park Palette
At Rocky Mountain National Park, the landscape is so huge that visitors find themselves intrigued by the small things, especially wildflowers in spring and summer. Here, pops of yellow, purple and green in the foreground provide a contrast with the snow-capped gray stone cliffs as the backdrop. Colors inspired by the landscape include: (L to R) Behr Gallery White (PPU12-12), Benjamin Moore Sun Kissed Yellow (2022-20), Behr Sagebrush Green (Sc-138, stain), Benjamin Moore Seduction (1399), Benjamin Moore Polo Blue (2062-10). You can also bring in the brighter colors via fabric and accessories, while iron furniture would be a great resource for the almost-black hue.
Acadia National Park Palette
A road trip to Acadia National Park in Maine is a dream come true. You'll have a spiritual moment watching the sun break though the clouds on these cliffs. Cool colors naturally dominate this palette, and the cliffs are actually composed of granite. Sounds like a kitchen makeover is in order! Colors (L to R): Valspar Pantone Tannin (PN11060), Behr Flannel Gray (N520-3), California Paints Blueberry Muffin (DE-5851), Cloverdale Paint Sky Watch (7362), Sherwin-Williams Espalier (SW 6734).
Joshua Tree National Park Palette
For a place that's so dry and rocky, it's amazing how colorful Joshua Tree National Park is. The iconic Suess-like Joshua Trees themselves offer rich shades of gray, brown and green. On a clear day, the blue hues of the sky vary across the landscape. And let's not forget about the sunsets! To get this look at home, set the stage with neutral walls (Sherwin-Williams Peach Blossom, SW 6624). Layer in color and texture with jute, burlap or linen fabrics. Accessories in shades of light blues (Bluebell, SW 6793) and greens (Leap Frog, SW 6431) pop against a deep green accent wall (Evergreens, SW 6447).
Grand Canyon National Park Palette
Most Instagrams of the famous South Rim sunset make the canyon seem fiery red but the layers of rock are actually made up of soft tans, plums and blush. The canyon, like a chameleon, changes as the sun rises and falls and as the clouds sweep across, casting deep shadows. To get the look in your home, paint your walls a tan with just a hint of violet like Sherwin-Williams Greek Villa (SW 7551) or Roman Column (SW 7562). Opt for a cognac leather couch or club chairs for that orangey-brown hue in the rock. Mix and match Persian or Spanish-style rugs with plums, deep blues and dusty purple to play with shades in the sky and shadows in the canyon.
Redwood National Park Palette
Known for its vast forest of towering sequoias, Redwood National Park is also home to winding rivers, prairies and miles and miles of gorgeous coastline. But it’s the magnificent California redwoods – some believed to be 2,000 years old – that draw most visitors to this majestic park. You can embrace the park’s natural beauty in your home with the use of subtle reds, vibrant greens and calming neutrals that tie the palette together. Colors (L to R): Benjamin Moore Amber Waves (2159-40), Behr Rodeo Red (200D-7), Sherwin-Williams Offbeat Green (SW 6706), Sherwin-Williams Sturdy Brown (SW 6097).
Everglades National Park Palette
Known as the "largest subtropical wilderness in the United States," Everglades National Park is located on the southern tip of Florida and was created to protect a fragile ecosystem. This network of wetlands is home to numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee and American crocodile. Recreate the essence of this national treasure with a paint palette of cool blues and greens. Park-inspired colors (all from Benjamin Moore) include: Paddington Blue (791), Highland Breeze (783), and Woodland Hills Green (543).
Yosemite National Park Palette
Nestled in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park beckons all travelers with its famously sheer rock faces and grandest views. Remarkably green and lush, its easy to see why it became the spiritual home of John Muir, father of the national parks idea. Bring the spirit home with a Yosemite-inspired palette of (L to R): Sherwin-Williams Optimistic Yellow (SW 6900), Jubilee (SW 6248), Benjamin Moore Dark Celery (2146-10), Sherwin-Williams Silken Peacock (SW 9059), and Behr Cedar Naturaltone (SC-533, stain).
Yellowstone National Park Palette
Yellowstone, the country's first national park, is best known for its geothermic features, such as geysers and hot springs. Grand Prismatic Spring gains its rich jewel-toned palette from the water’s dramatic temperature change and the variety of organisms that can live within the mineral-rich water. If you’re looking for a bold wall color, the blues and teals of the pool are the perfect inspiration, while travertine-colored furniture and brown trim can break up the saturation. For a more subdued space, flip the palette and use the travertine colors on the walls and the jewel tones as furnishings and accents. Color palette (L to R): Benjamin Moore Evening Blue (BM 2066-20), Behr Mystic Turquoise (P450-7), Sherwin-Williams Rhumba Orange (SW 6642), Glidden Marshmallow White (30YY 83/012), Valspar Gypsy Leather (3009-8).
Glacier Bay National Park Palette
Known for its magnificent tidewater glaciers and unspoiled wilderness, Glacier Bay National Park is an incredible sight to see in the American Northwest. Calving glaciers float in a sea of rippling deep blue with towering snow-capped mountains layered above a pristine coastline. You can bring the look of Alaska’s Glacier Bay into your home by embracing a natural palette of cool, icy blues that mimic the park’s glaciers, sea-filled icebergs and rugged mountains covered in snow. (L to R, all by Sherwin-Williams): North Star (SW 6246), Dynamic Blue (SW 6958), Distance (SW 6243), Endless Sea (SW 9150).
Arches National Park Palette
In no other place are the sands of time captured more gracefully than at Arches National Park. Erosion carved the striking shelters out of sandstone over thousands of years. You can bring the beauty of Arches home by embracing orange, the color of the rock, and pairing it with bright blue reminiscent of the sky. The following colors are inspired by this photo from Arches, but you can also use the palette to bring in accessories, such as pillows or vases in orange or sky blue, or the darkest blue-black through slate. (L to R): Benjamin Moore Peach Stone (094), Sherwin-Williams Osage Orange (SW 6890), Benjamin Moore Electric Orange (2015-10), Sherwin-Williams, Flyway (SW 6794), Behr Dark Navy (S530-7).
Glacier National Park Palette
Located in the northwest corner of Montana and spanning the Continental Divide, Glacier National Park is known as a hikers’ paradise. More than 700 miles of trails wind around soaring rocky peaks, past icy-blue glacial lakes and through flower-dotted alpine meadows. Glacier's beauty has been called “raw and untamed” and the stunning views, lush forests and local wildlife are not to be missed. To bring the park’s beauty into your home use shades of blue-gray accented with vivid greens and fuchsias. (L to R): Benjamin Moore Twilight Magenta (2074-30), Sherwin-Williams Paradise (SW 6720), Valspar Loyalty (4006-7C), Farrow & Ball Pitch Blue (220), Sherwin-Williams In the Navy (SW 9178)
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Palette
The vast volcanic landscape of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is at once both strikingly beautiful and fiercely terrifying. Home to Kilauea and Mauna Loa, two of the most active and massive volcanoes in the world, the park’s landscape is a stunning, ever-changing fusion of black scalded deserts, lush green tropical rainforests and fiery orange flows of fresh lava. It has long been believed that the strong-willed and capricious volcano goddess Pele inhabits Kilauea’s Halemaumau caldera from where she created and continues to shape the Hawaiian Islands. Bring the unparalleled hues of Hawaii Volcanoes home with (L to R): Benjamin Moore Juno Peach (087), Benjamin Moore Tangy Orange (2014-30), Sherwin-Williams Bold Brick, and Benjamin Moore Onyx (2133-10). For an extra luxurious look, choose pillows, throws or other accent pieces in rich emerald green.
Channel Islands National Park Palette
Off the coast of Los Angeles is another world entirely, Channel Islands National Park, made up of five main islands jutting out of the ocean. The bare island landscape provides a stunningly open view of the mighty Pacific. Take that open, airy, oceanic feel home with you through a Channel Islands-inspired palette (L to R): Benjamin Moore Ocean Air (2123-50), Benjamin Moore Barley Grass (271), Behr Deep River (P500-6), Benjamin Moore Jet Black (2120-10).
Dry Tortugas National Park Palette
Travel by boat or seaplane to the very end of the Florida Keys and you'll find Dry Tortugas National Park — a tropical island paradise stocked with colorful, undisturbed coral reefs, rare marine and bird species and pristine white sand beaches. The park's most notable feature, however, is the massive, brick-laden Fort Jefferson, a naval fortress that was used as a Union prison during the Civil War and holds the record as the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. But if you can't make it to this tropical oasis just yet, no worries! Recreate its utilitarian-meets-coastal look by mixing industrial favorites such as exposed brick and weathered wood with paints and fabrics in unexpected turquoise and bright green hues. Dry Tortugas-inspired color palette (L to R): Valspar Dancing Mist (5005-7A), Benjamin Moore Teacup Rose (2170-50), Benjamin Moore Poolside Blue (2048-40), Valspar Spearmint Burst (6003-10A), Benjamin Moore Twilight Dreams (049).
Sitka National Park Palette
Incorporate a nature-inspired look in your home without decorating in the usual green and taupe by looking for inspiration in unexpected outdoor places. If you ever visit Sitka National Park in Alaska, you can't miss the colorful totems. To translate this look into your home's design, combine weathered wood accents with muted colors and black. Color palette: Behr Matador's Cape (M160-6), Salt Glaze (PPU-12-11) and Ink Black (N490-7).
Olympic National Park Palette
Located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park covers nearly a million acres and encompasses three distinct ecosystems: glacier-capped mountains, rugged coast and majestic old-growth temperate rain forest. In Hoh Rain Forest (pictured), ferns and mosses drape towering Sitka spruce and western hemlock trees, creating an unbelievably lush canopy of green. The Hoh River, which gets its milky blue color from glacial sediment, meanders between the trees. To bring the look of this magnificent forest to your home, start with an earthy neutral backdrop, then layer in accessories in leafy greens and watery blues. Color palette: Benjamin Moore Porcini (CSP-195), Sherwin-Williams Houseplant SW 6727, Sherwin-Williams Picnic (SW 6731), Behr Tropical Waterfall (P460-2), Behr Underwater (PPU12-20).
Fire Island National Park Palette
Fire Island National Seashore is a 26-mile stretch of a barrier island that sits between the Atlantic Ocean and Great South Bay on Long Island, New York’s south shore. There are only two bridges leading to Fire Island and no public roads within the seashore (only parkland). The Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1826. At that time it was at the western end of the island, but due to the natural movement of sand on a barrier island, the lighthouse is now located five miles from the western end of the island. Color palette (L to R): Benjamin Moore Redstone (2009-10), Benjamin Moore Amber (168), Sherwin-William Nacre (SW 6154), Sherwin-William Sea Serpent (SW 7615), Olympic Viva La Bleu (OL634.3).
2: They Adapt Easily
White Kitchen With Blue, Green and Floral Accents
A white kitchen doesn't have to be ALL white. Here, designer Andrea Schumacher opted for just two small shelves in lieu of upper cabinets, making the fanciful floral wallpaper the star. For contrast, she chose an emerald green tone from the wallpaper to paint the kitchen's island. The standout green piece complements the blue floral wallpaper, the Murano glass chandeliers, white cabinetry and Carrara marble backsplash.
Greens and browns can be used as understated neutrals or playful pops of color — which gives you plenty of options for incorporating them into your kitchen, bedroom, etc.
3: They Make Us Feel Good
Blush pink and Kelly green? Yes, please. Because earth tones are often warm, soothing colors, they tend to make our favorite spaces feel calm and inviting.
4: They Offer Just Enough Sparkle
Sarah Sweeney Photography
Gentle brown, tan and beige backgrounds are a little lackluster on their own, but agate-inspired accents provide contrast and sparkle to keep things interesting.
5: They Never Go Out of Style
Color trends come and go, but Mother Nature's hues are fashionable year-round.
Pendleton Kitchen Kit
Pendleton’s relationship with the National Park Service (NPS) began in 1910 when they were asked to create a one-of-a-kind blanket for Glacier National Park visitors. For the centennial celebration, the legendary Portland, Oregon company created an entire line of products. This cowboy kitchen set ($70 - $50) is complemented with a Badlands coffee mug ($19.50) and table linens ($29.50 - $19.50). See the entire collection at Pendleton.
Ranger Doug Framed Prints
Back in the 1930s and ‘40s, the WPA's Federal Art Project printed more than 2 million posters in 35,000 different designs to spark wanderlust in the American people. Over the years, most of the posters were destroyed, but when Ranger Doug Leen found 13 original negatives in a drawer, he sought out to reproduce them. Framebridge is offering custom-framed prints ranging from $39 - $159.
Park Pride Pillows
Any park enthusiast is sure to love Pendleton’s park pillows ($168). Original copyrighted designs wax nostalgic on the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Acadia. A portion of proceeds from the National Park Collection will support restoration of the Grand Canyon Depot and the spiral staircase at the Many Glacier Hotel.
Dr. Squatch Shaving Kit
Dr. Squatch is a 100% natural, vegan, cruelty-free men’s care line that was born out a love for nature (and a disdain for office life). Co-founder AJ Fountain was once a sea kayak guide in the San Juan Islands and hiked Olympic National Park where he encountered “a mecca of smells, olfactory bliss.” Those fresh, invigorating scents are packed into Squatch’s 5 oz. soap bars ($7) and mixed into organic colognes ($42). We love the shave kit ($78) and know your man friend will, too.
Street artist turned fine artist Deedee Cheriel grew up enjoying our national parks with her “very non-materialistic” parents, which is what inspired her original tote ($30). Designed to be a daily reminder to curb our insatiable appetites, this tote features Cheriel’s artwork that has been seen all over the world and in feature films. “It is easy to get bogged down by stuff,” said Cheriel. “It’s so freeing to be in a tent on a mountain or lake just enjoying the view.” Ten percent of the sales will go to the NPS.
Dot & Bo Coaster Set
As a gift and in daily life, coasters are never a bad idea. These retro cuties from Dot & Bo ($20) remind us of blowing off steam in Yellowstone, dodging gators in the Everglades, drinking in majestic sunsets over the Grand Canyon and bear watching in Glacier National Park. Or that we need to set the glass down and get outside.
Take your mountain man back to the park he loves every month with a subscription to Outlaw Soap’s National Park soap of the month club. Not only will he receive the crazy-good-smelling, 100% natural soap but also a Ranger Doug postcard and magnet. He’ll be teleported to Bryce Canyon one month and then back to Crater Lake the next, with the shower as his time machine. At $17, it’s a total steal and $1 of every soap club membership goes in the pocket of the NPS. Win/win.
Parks Project is one of the grooviest online purveyors of apparel and accessories we’ve noticed in a while. Not only do they hock really cool wares, like this handcrafted leather field book ($48), but they also give a portion of their profits to our national parks. Even better, they help promote conservation and preservation through education and volunteer programs.
Rejuvenation carries a lot of housewares that make fine gifts for your outdoorsy friends. This log tote ($129) is made by Massachusetts-based Steele Canvas, which has been crafting canvas carriers since 1921. It’s handsome enough to hang around the house and durable enough to carry campside.
Pendleton Bath Towels
Respected for their blankets, Pendleton’s bath towels ($9.50 – $39.50) are equally comfy and cool. Treat your park-loving pal to a lush set that will remind them of that time they slipped in the cool Yellowstone mud and needed one.
NPS Park Pass
Say I love you to the parks and your pal. The yearly pass is $80 for average Joes and $10 for seniors, but fourth graders, those with permanent disabilities and active military enjoy the parks for free – always. Get yours.
Yellowstone Park Playing Cards
When you run out of ghost stories (or disposal funds for gifts), for less than $5 you can buy a deck of cards. Their faces pack different images of park scenes like cute bears along with fun factoids.