How to design the perfect earth tone kitchen

Move over, all-white kitchens – the natural look is back! For many years, simple solid colors were in vogue when it came to kitchen design. Shining white counters, bright yellow cabinets, and non-patterned tiles, galore!

The look wasn’t bad and it was in style for almost a decade. However, earth-toned designs are now in – and we are in love!

In this blog post, we’ll share some incredible earth tone kitchen designs with you, and provide tips on how you can design the perfect kitchen with this theme in mind.

So let’s get started!

 1) An earth-toned floor

earth tone kitchen design with a large center island

Okay, so you need to go with a wood-paneled floor, right? Wrong! When you say you want an organic design, many people assume the only choice is wood. That’s true in the case of cabinets (unless you’re open to patterns and such on them – which can be pricey and complicated), but when it comes to the floor you have plenty of options.

A glossy wooden floor is always lovely, but personally, I think if you’re going for wooden flooring, a kitchen may not be the best place for it. You won’t enjoy the sounds and feel of the material as much in your kitchen. While wooden flooring is best used in a bedroom or living room, a plain concrete floor is THE ideal choice for a kitchen – and you can pick out the perfect earth-toned vinyl or laminate to cover it.

You can choose between solid colors or patterns such as bricks, pebbles, stone, slate and much more. You want organic? Now that’s an organic look you can’t get anywhere else! Stone cabinets…just think about it for a full minute.

You can also go for cork, bamboo, or tiles. The first two are eco-friendly, earthy-looking options, with cork being fairly unique in some ways.

 2) Choosing the right kitchen countertop

Get the countertop right, and you’re halfway there already. When opting for an earthy kitchen design, you have two main options: wood and granite. The latter can be a bit pricey, and it’s also less popular generally since cabinets can’t be made out of granite. However, if you want some contrast and can find a variety of granite that goes well with the polish you choose, it’s definitely an option to consider. You could also try having the counter be granite only around your sink – it’ll look absolutely beautiful, and make a stunning highlight.

Generally, a wooden counter is perfect for an earth tone. Depending on your preferences you can go for different wood varieties, thicknesses and polish colors. If you want your kitchen to look light and airy, you can go for a thinner, lighter colored wood. You can also experiment with different wood types for the counter and cabinets so it isn’t all the same type – having some contrast and a highlight is a good idea.

 3) Finding tiles that work for an earth tone kitchen

Normally, I’d recommend going for a mild, light color – a light peach, a soft buttery yellow, or off-white – because earth-toned designs tend to look rather dark due to all the wood and polish. However, if you opt for a light-colored variety of wood or have lots of natural light in the kitchen, you have many more options available to you.

First things first, wood-patterned tiles are out of the question. Seriously, don’t even think about it. You’ll need floodlights to illuminate your kitchen.

An earth tone covers everything organic – so organic colors like green, brown and orange, materials like wood and bamboo, and lots of interesting textures and patterns. So, there are many other options available. Green tiles, for instance. A light airy green would look refreshing, and it wouldn’t spoil the theme.

It’s a delicate balance of finding the right shade and getting the right light, so the final result looks good. It’ll take time, so start planning in advance. And if all else fails, you can always go with white or off-white.

 4) Choosing paint or wallpaper to complement your earthy kitchen

With paint, you have a lot more options – and the final result is more easily imagined since paint dealers have software for this very purpose. Again, I’d suggest going for something light and bright that sticks to the theme. I wouldn’t recommend plain old white when it comes to paint, because it’s easily stained and white paint tends to look rather plain on walls. It makes them look unfinished and bare. Off-white would work well.

If you go for wallpapers instead, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Remember the key points: light, earth tones, and color combinations. I would suggest avoiding intricate patterns (even if they’re earth-toned) because the overall effect might be a little noisy. You’d end up with too many patterns, and the result wouldn’t be pleasant to look at. Imagine wearing a floral t-shirt with tribal pattern leggings and a striped scarf. That’s the sort of thing I mean.

 5) Finalizing cabinet design

Cabinets are the bulk of what’s visible at a glance in a kitchen. You need to make sure they reflect the theme you’re trying to incorporate. Luckily, when opting for an earth tone kitchen, cabinets are the easy part.

The simplest, most cost-effective solution is to simply go with a wooden look. Get the cabinets designed as you want them – with or without patterns, with the right thickness, a handle you like – and then polished. You can choose between different polishes based on how dark and how transparent you want them to be. If you’d prefer the wood grain to show, for instance, go for a lighter, more transparent polish. If you want more of a solid look, go for low transparency.

As for cabinet handles, you can either go for an organic design – i.e., something that looks like a piece of bamboo or twig, or for an “old world” feel with large brass handles. I find they work well with wooden furniture unless you’re going for a modern look.

If you want a dash of modern-ness in the kitchen, you can add a highlight to the cabinets – like a see-through panel at the bottom, a minimalistic handle, or in-cabinet lights.

 6) Kitchen essentials for a complete look

Okay, so you’ve got the major areas covered, and now it’s time to look at the finer details. Kitchen essentials and fittings play a small but important role in completing your earthy kitchen design. Let’s talk about utensil hangers and utensils, for instance.

If the hangers will be visible (in the case of large hooks used for ladles, egg-beaters, etc.) see if you can find something made of bamboo. It looks refreshingly light, and if it hasn’t been used elsewhere in the kitchen it can introduce a new texture to the space. Many utensils are also available in eco-friendly varieties.

The faucet in your kitchen sink is another important point. Do you want it large and old-school, or small and modern? Do you prefer the traditional shiny silver, or would you like to opt for a colored faucet?

The kitchen containers, especially the ones you’ll have on display, are also important. You can find jars and containers in just about every pattern. However, if you want to support eco-friendly businesses, consider buying containers made of eco-friendly products. These usually look super organic, and will work well with the theme.

 7) Kitchen plants, for a classy look

Who doesn’t like having some plants in the house? They give any space a stately, graceful look. They can be big or small, tall or short, variegated or green. And containers come in a wide variety of options as well, based on color, material, shape, and size.

In an earthy kitchen, I’d recommend avoiding common indoor plants as they often look artificial and plasticky. I love them – they’re easy to care for, and many of them are great for removing pollutants from the air – but they do look a teeny bit fake. I’d go, instead, for edible plants – especially spices and herbs, which can flourish without much sunlight and are often easy to care for. Bamboo is another great option, especially if you think your kitchen’s starting to look rather woody and ‘heavy’ – if you have patterned cabinets with thick wood, for example.

Small clay pots are ideal for spices. Place them on a saucer to avoid staining your kitchen counter, and place them wherever there’s plenty of light. Windowsills or spots with overhead light are ideal.

You can grow rosemary, basil, cilantro, mint and many other common herbs indoors. If you have a particularly sunny spot, you could try growing peppers or tomatoes as well! Just remember to rotate the pots 90 degrees every week, and to trim regularly (every 1-2 weeks, ideally). Plants need to be trimmed to stay in good health, so you’d actually be doing them a favor by eating them!

Need help designing an earth tone kitchen?

We can help! We’ve been in the kitchen remodeling business for many years and have a wealth of knowledge. Although we do not offer this service directly, depending on where you are located, we’d love to put you in touch with one of our colleagues. Simply reach out to us and we’ll do our best to help you find a reliable kitchen remodeling contractor or company to help with designing and building!

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