Down to Earth

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Casa Galloway Living Space-credit Sam Frost
Earth tones at Casa Galloway | Photo by Sam Frost

Nature’s bolder shades add dimension and personality to any home space.

By Ashley Breeding


“Earth tones,” a term used to describe a design palette mimicking the natural landscape, often refers to muted browns, greens and grays that evoke feelings of calm and a connection to the outdoors. But beyond basic beige and sage exists a warmer, more vivid variety—wild mustard carpeting Newport’s canyons; yellow-green olive leaves; shore lichen, golden or ruddy, banded to inland rocks; even the chocolate hues of mud. These bolder colors complement nature’s more subdued shades and add a punch of personality.

Interior designer Lindye Galloway, a Newport Beach resident and founder of the eponymous studio and shop in nearby Costa Mesa, leans on this broader palette for many of her clients who wish to invite the outdoors in. “I gravitate toward using these [bolder] earth tones in bedrooms, bathrooms or even smaller living rooms,” she says, noting a preference for lighter hues in larger spaces, like a great room.

Bolder colors also look best in rooms with ample natural light, says Galloway, whose residential projects have appeared in magazines like Architectural Digest, Elle Decor and House Beautiful. “Getting a sense for a room’s natural light throughout the day can have a huge impact on the type of colors you infuse,” she says. “I begin by looking at a room holistically. I think about the color tones and patterns I want to mix into the space. Then, I try to build a design that is balanced, curated and [has] just the right amount of variation.”

Galloway sticks to either a warm or cool palette, as well as only two or three colors in different shades. “My philosophy is to keep tones consistent and grounded. Any more and [a room] can become busy,” she says, noting this as the opposite of the intended effect of incorporating earth tones.

Earthy Eclectic Living Space-credit Shade Degges
Incorporating earth tones in the home can create a calming effect while layering in texture through fabrics, decor or artwork can create a cohesive feel. | Photo by Shade Degges

When starting a new project, earth-toned limewash paint and plaster are the “perfect foundation … [for] then adding furniture pieces that bring an extra layer of earthy feel,” Galloway explains. “Taupe and dark browns are a safe neutral color that bring a sense of calm and allow you to layer in other color tones. Colors like deep reds and greens are coming in and are here to stay. With those tones, I like to keep everything else more neutral, so it balances the look.”

Layering texture—with fabrics, decor or art—is the finishing touch. While Galloway says artwork should complement furnishings to “maintain a cohesive feel,” a variety of media can work in most spaces. “Play around with different types of art, … landscapes to abstract to even sculptural, to see what works,” she says. Above all else, the style of your surroundings should make you feel good.


From the Ground Up

These products, available locally, will help you build spaces that bring outdoor hues in.

solo flute
Add a touch of elegance and practicality to your kitchen with Viterbo’s amber CHAMPAGNE FLUTES—perfectly shaped to enhance the effervescence and aroma of your sparkling wine selection, $28, at Heirloom. (949-515-2500;
Baja Jute Rug - 1
To ground some of your more punchy pieces, opt for the neutral BAJA JUTE RUG, a floor covering that comes in a variety of sizes and is handwoven with natural yarn to add depth, texture and detailing to any room, from $125, at Lindye Galloway Shop. (949-866-4404;
60379708_072_b2 ELLISON DINING CHAIR
Brighten a breakfast nook or dining room with vibrant daffodil seating, like the ELLISON DINING CHAIR, crafted with colorful linen and an intricate wooden frame, $548, available online from Anthropologie, Fashion Island. (949-720-9946;
The olive-hued KNOX UPHOLSTERED SOFA is the perfect statement piece, offering a rich texture and deep earthy tone in a style that combines elements of both European and American seating, $2,999, available online from Pottery Barn, South Coast Plaza. (714-966-2482;
Soak in amber waves of bath grain—or salts—with THE PRAIRIE TUB, a transparent resin bathtub that will add a robust earthiness to your bathroom with its unique color and features plenty of room for relaxation, $4,250, with advance order at Prairie Interiors. (
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