Umber is a rich, warm, earthy brown color that can pair beautifully with a variety of colors in both warm and cool palettes. When selecting colors to complement umber, it’s important to consider the undertones and intensity of the particular umber shade you are working with. Lighter umbers with red or orange undertones will look best with warmer complements, while deeper, more neutral umbers can be paired with both warm and cool accent colors. Here are some of the most popular and visually striking color combinations to try with umber.
Warm palette colors
For light, warm umber shades that lean towards orange or red undertones, you’ll want to choose coordinating colors from the warm spectrum. The warmth of these umber hues brings out the richness of other warm tones and allows for cohesive, harmonious palettes. Some excellent warm colors to pair with light umber include:
- Mustard yellow
- Burnt orange
- Brick red
- Golden yellow
These colors complement the warmth of light umber beautifully. Mustard yellow, terracotta, or burnt orange will make umber pop while also blending seamlessly. For a more bold, intense look, pair umber with a rich brick red or coral. Softer peaches and butterscotch provide a more subtle accompaniment. Whichever warm accents you choose, be sure they are of the same intensity or darker than your umber base for a cohesive effect.
Cool palette colors
While warm umbers look best with coordinating warm colors, deeper, more neutral umber shades with brown undertones can be paired with cool colors too. Deep umber has a versatility that allows it to work within both warm and cool palettes. Here are some refreshing cool colors that coordinate wonderfully with neutral umber shades:
- Ice blue
- Pale blue
- Sea green
Crisp cool hues like ice blue, blue-gray, and pale blue create beautiful contrast against rich umber backgrounds. For a softer look, blend umber with muted purple tones like lavender, plum, or periwinkle. And for an earthy vibe, pair neutral umber with soothing sea greens or aquas. Just be conscious of brightness and intensity so that your cool accents don’t overpower the umber base.
In addition to warm and cool complements, neutral colors also coordinate seamlessly with umber. Neutrals are extremely versatile pairings that allow the umber hue to take center stage while providing subtle enhancement. Excellent neutral shades to try with umber include:
- Dove gray
- Pale sage
Soft neutrals like cream, beige, and mushroom blend with umber for natural, earthy combinations. Light grays and sages create a more muted effect that lets the umber shade shine. And for extra visual interest, pair rich umber with contrasting neutral patterns or textures, like a beige houndstooth or taupe tweed. Just avoid stark whites and blacks, which will look too harsh against the warmth of umber.
Don’t overlook the power of pairing various umber tones together in a monochromatic color scheme. With umber as your base, layer in accent shades like chestnut, tan, taupe, or sand to create depth and visual interest. You can also play with different umber intensities – lighter for brightness, deeper for contrast. Just be sure to vary textures and patterns if relying primarily on umber so the look doesn’t become one-dimensional.
Colors opposite umber on the color wheel, like teal and light blue, can provide striking contrast when paired together. However, using direct complements can sometimes look jarring or vibrant, which may not suit more subtle umber palettes. Consider warming up cool complements with umber undertones. For example, opt for a teal with brown instead of a pure green-blue. You can also lay umber over complementary shades as a unifying base. Just be cautious of high-contrast combinations and adjust intensities as needed.
Split complementary colors
A safer complementary scheme is to use colors adjacent to umber’s opposite on the color wheel. These split complements will have touches of your base color for a more cohesive effect. For umber, potential split complements would be:
- Yellow-green and blue-violet
- Blue-green and red-violet
- Yellow-orange and violet
The combination of a yellow-green and blue-violet, for example, provides vibrant contrast while still coordinating with umber’s orangey-brown undertones. Split complements give you the color pop of true complements without the harshness.
Choosing any three equidistant colors on the color wheel results in a triadic palette, which provides both contrast and harmony. Potential triadic schemes with umber could include:
- Umber, crimson red, chartreuse green
- Umber, cyan blue, orange
- Umber, magenta, lime green
These triads use umber as a neutral balance for more eye-catching brights. The colors contrast strongly while still integrating thanks to the shared brown undertones in each third of the palette.
Analogous colors sit directly next to each other on the color wheel, creating harmonious palettes perfect for gradual ombré gradients. Possible analogous combinations with umber include:
- Umber, sienna, ochre
- Umber, rust, burnt orange
- Umber, olive, moss green
These groupings mix umber with other rich, earthy tones for smooth, seamless palettes full of depth and texture. Add cream or white to lighten up the scheme. Analogous colors are always a foolproof choice.
With its earthy richness and versatility, umber can be paired with a diverse range of colors. Warm hues like mustard, peach and brick red complement umber’s orange undertones, while cool shades of blue, purple and sea green create striking contrast. For more subtle accents, turn to neutral creams, taupes and grays. And don’t overlook umber monochromes, complementary triads, and analogous earth tones. However you choose to complement it, umber provides the perfect bold, natural base for all types of color palettes.
|Umber Color Combinations
|Terracotta, burnt orange, coral
|Ice blue, lavender, sea green
|Cream, taupe, dove gray
|Chestnut, tan, sand
|Teal, light blue
|Crimson, chartreuse, cyan
|Sienna, ochre, olive
With this handy reference table, you can quickly see examples of colors that work well with different umber shades. Whether you prefer bold warm tones, refreshing cool hues, harmonious earth tones or maximum contrast, you can easily identify palette ideas to make the most of your umber. With endless possibilities, find your favorite umber combinations and decorating confidently knowing these colors naturally complement one another beautifully.