If that new sweater just isn’t cutting it, integrating fall color schemes into your home is sure to send your coziness levels off the charts.
For color lovers, ‘tis the season to embrace the bold, the dark and the vibrant – base your fall decor ideas around the natural world and you can’t go wrong.
As the leaves turn from green to fiery oranges, yellows and reds, and the harvesting on autumnal vegetables increases our appreciation for earthy browns and inky purples, it’s time to get down and dirty with our palettes.
Fall color schemes
While a glance outside the window will likely serve you with ample chromatic inspiration, we’ve gathered some stunning ideas on how to integrate fall color schemes into your home, and asked the experts to highlight their favorite hues and combinations to help you get it right.
1. Bring the outside in with olive greens
Even as fall brings a bounty of color, we admit that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. ‘Autumn is also a great time to introduce shades of green as the verdant greens of nature start to disappear for winter – there’s no need to wait for spring to see them again,’ says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux.
Green living room ideas have been a key trend in interiors in recent months, as the pandemic has had us longing for the great outdoors – and it’s set to continue into the colder months, even as the leaves and your outdoor fall decor change color. To bridge between the season, choose olive – as demonstrated in this room including the Kitty fabric in Spring Green by Linwood, it can feel fresh in the daylight, but its brown undertones keep it cozy.
‘Olive is the chameleon of the paint palette,’ says artist and color expert Annie Sloan. ‘It can be a neutral, dropping into the background, or it can be the shining star of a color scheme. It’s warm, earthy, and mutable – a useful color and real hidden gem. It’s a classical shade, but also works as an anchor for a cool 1950s mid-century modern color palette when paired with harvest golds, oranges and pale blues.’
2. Channel fall leaves with burnt orange
If you’ve started scouring the sidewalk for the most vibrant leaves to inspire your fall wreath ideas, don’t let the inspiration stop there.
‘As we have a craving for life beyond the windows, combining shades of nature always works well to help bring the outside in,’ adds Shillingford. ‘Colors that we are used to seeing together naturally on a crisp autumn day such as rich auburns, reds and golds sitting against warm earthy neutrals work beautifully. Toasty hues such as Dulux’s Blood Orange and Rich Earth are perfect for the colder seasons to help bring warmth into a room.’
The undisputed color of fall, using earthy oranges – either in accents or as a wall color like in this example by interior designer Kit Kemp – will wrap a cozy layer around any space. ‘Where we put on coats, scarves and gloves, your home needs extra rugs, throws and patterns,’ adds Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin. ‘Burnt oranges and deep red tones in rugs and cushions – think of a scattering of autumnal leaves.’
3. Fire up a scheme with deep reds
Perhaps the ultimate interior indulgence, sumptuous red walls are a daring choice, but inarguably enveloping when done right. ‘Deep maple reds from Farrow & Ball’s Blazer to Preference Red make for the perfect autumnal living room palette,’ says Patrick O’Donnell Brand Ambassador for the paint gurus.
In this example, red takes the reins of the bedroom color ideas, keeping things light enough with white accents and warm neutrals, as well as a complementary yellow ochre stool. ‘Brick reds and rich mustard yellows look beautiful together,’ adds O’Donnell. ‘Use empathetic whites to balance the tones and avoid the room looking too cloying.’
4. Pepper warm neutrals with rich autumnal hues
For people who like their color in small doses, it’s perfectly possible to create an autumnal look with a neutral background. In this example, a cream wall color is paired with natural brown woods with orangey undertones, and accessorized with soft furnishings Mind The Gap that sport rusty red, muted blue accents and tons of texture.
‘Muted shades like Dulux’s Pressed Putty and Pebble Shore look beautiful in combination with more rich autumnal hues like ruby, aubergine or forest greens,’ says Shillingford. ‘They quieten down the sharper notes and bring out something much more grown up for spaces like the living room, kitchen and adult bedrooms.’
5. Earth yourself with dark browns
As the nights draw in, it’s time to embrace the dark side. In this room with decor and furniture by John Lewis, shades of dark brown envelope the room, their natural connotations emphasised by the grassy fall table decor ideas.
‘As summer rolls into fall, the natural exterior palette gently shifts to colors of spice and amber that inspire our interior choices,’ says O’Donnell. ‘Mix in earth browns, rich chocolate tones and the softest, most nuanced of whites. Rich browns such as Farrow & Ball’s earthy Broccoli Brown are an elegant yet practical choice.’
6. Choose warmer greys for a cozy neutral scheme
If you’re keen to mirror what’s going on outdoors, then grey always has a place in a fall palette. To make a space feel cozy rather than dreary, pick greys with brown, pink or green undertones for a warming sensation that conjures the natural world.
‘Although grey, with its comforting versatility will still be with us for a while, we don’t see the rushed return to anything gritty urban – or indoors for that matter – anytime soon,’ says Shillingford. ‘Color-wise we are throwing open the doors and windows and inviting every shade of nature in for tea.’
7. Bring a little sunshine to unexpected spaces with yellow ochre
If you’re missing the sun already, welcome it back into your home by sprinkling its warmth across rooms of the home where color is often neglected. ‘Warm yellows such as Cane, India Yellow and Sudbury Yellow are a surprisingly delicious choice for kitchen cabinetry,’ says O’Donnell. As well as the kitchen, consider using it to brighten your bathroom color ideas too, like in this example with paint by Annie Sloan.
Temper a sunshine yellow to make it fall-appropriate by adding a hint of brown into the mix. ‘Our wonderfully rich ochre India Yellow is a perfect choice for an interior that echoes the season outside,’ adds O’Donnell. ‘Layer it with strong contrasts for all-year relevance such as darker tones like Down Pipe for a bold counterpoint!’
8. Pair inky colors with muted forest tones
Just because fall signals a newfound passion for fiery hues, that doesn’t mean cooler colors get totally tossed to the wayside. Darker, inky colors can form part of a cocooning scheme, that will feel autumnal if also inclusive of natural ochres.
Among the kitchen color ideas in this scheme by Little Greene, the Vine wallpaper in blue features muddy greens alongside muted blues, while these brown-greens spill out onto the cabinetry and an aubergine linen tablecloth adds extra depth to this absorbing scheme.
9. Add a hint of pink with copper tones
After years of ‘girly’ stereotyping, pink is slowly making its warming, comforting presence felt in interior design across the home. Along with terracotta, another natural iteration making its mark is copper.
‘Copper is a perfect color for the autumn,’ says Crown Color Consultant Kathryn Lloyd. ‘It looks at its most dramatic when used with either very dark colors like bitter chocolate and charcoal where it can glint out of the dark, or light whites and pale greys where it adds areas of shine and warmth. Red and burnt orange are also great partners which work because they are tonal and blend rather than stand out.’
A pink-infused alternative to orange, it also works well with verdant greens, as demonstrated in this wallpaper by Sanderson. Alternatively, go straight to the source and incorporate metallic copper ornaments into your fall mantel ideas.
10. Layer up with tonal browns
Taking a tonal approach in any scheme will always help the end result feel cohesive and comfortable. When it comes to creating a fall color scheme, using a tonal palette of warm browns will allow you to explore the breadth of the season’s natural offerings.
In this hallway example, a parquet floor in varying tones of warm wood is bolstered by the wallpaper ideas – an all-brown illustration of wandering flamingoes by Arte – and plenty of wooden furniture in similarly orangey hues. Crisp white prevents things from getting muddy, while an olive green velvet is a sympathetic addition in the soft furnishings department.
What are good fall colors?
The best fall colors are the ones that remind you of the natural world during these unique months. This can range from the season’s idyllic aspects to its less bucolic but equally atmospheric characteristics.
The color of falling leaves and plump pumpkins, orange will always be at the center of a fall palette. For a contemporary take, look to burnt oranges, coppers and terracottas. For a wider view on warm colors, head to its complementary hues, red and yellow. To keep both feeling autumnal rather than aggressive, add a little brown and explore ochre shades. Brown itself is a fall staple, and pretty much anything on its tonal spectrum is valid.
Green has been having a big year with everyone craving some time in the great outdoors, so also look for shades of this hue with brown undertones, like olive and sage. Cool colors can also feel autumnal and kept muted, so consider inky blues and aubergine.
What fall color goes with purple?
It entirely depends on what purple you are talking about. A rich aubergine can in itself be considered a fall color, its inky yet warm properties and connotations of autumnal vegetables setting it firmly in this transitional season. This means it can be paired with all sorts of autumn colors, as well as warm neutrals, for a cozy look.
Generally, we would recommend steering away from purples with too much blue in them, or ones that stray too far from natural pigments for an autumnal look. Plum and grape colors work well with burnt oranges, and even a pastel lilac will create a pleasing contrast.
I started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. I then spent three years at the Evening Standard on the GO London team, covering restaurants and bars, and getting to eat and drink a veritable smorgasbord of wonderful things around the city. I left the paper in 2020 and went freelance, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures. A little less than a year later, I started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing me to fully indulge my love of good interior design.
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