Rust is a pleasing earth tone that imbues warmth and color without being visually overwhelming. Despite its reddish-orange-brown undertones, rust can surprisingly function as a neutral and will work with a range of other colors, from greens to blues to even oranges. Once regarded as more of a retro shade — we're looking at you, 1970s — the color rust has been trending in the world of interior design over the last few years. This sudden surge in popularity might have something to do with the simultaneous attraction to rustic and bohemian design styles that put a premium on warm colors found in nature, such as red, orange, yellow, and green.
"Rust is a rich color that brings a lot of warmth and style to a home. I like to incorporate it into a space with large upholstered items to make a big high impact statement," says Emma Kemper, principal designer at Emma Beryl Interiors. "Rust lends a moody feel and can almost act as a neutral, so I like to pair it with other warm earth tones or with dark inky blues."
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The color rust is a versatile shade that looks just as good in laid-back designs as it does in ones that are more refined. Although we're partial to using it in bedrooms and small spaces that enhance its inherently cozy vibe, it's a beautiful addition to living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms as well. Besides paint, it can also be incorporated into your home in a variety of other ways, such as tile, wallpaper, textiles, and even lighting.
"Rust is an earthy neutral that is made up of a small family of different hues, so naturally, I would pair it with muted tones so that it serves as an organic splash of color in a calming scheme," says Beck Shea, founder and creative director of BS/D. "Incorporating green life with rust is a match made in heaven; the two play off one another so well based on their organic vernacular. I'd incorporate sage- or olive-tone pillows and obviously natural plant life."
Depending on which color rust is paired with, it can evoke the energy and passion of red, the stability of brown, or the excitement of orange. Read on to discover 12 timeless colors that will pair flawlessly with rust.
12 Rust Color Combinations
1. Rust and Black
Despite its earthy origin, don't overlook rust as a color palette option in sophisticated spaces. For an elegant take on the shade, pair it with matte black walls and warm wood flooring. The team at Shapeless Studio executed the look flawlessly in this bedroom design complete with burnt-orange colored linens and picture frame molding on the walls.
"I think the key to making a showstopper color like rust work is to do it in bold splashes so it doesn't overwhelm the room or read trendy. For example, picture a moody traditional library with rich mahogany or chestnut wood paneling and a tufted rust mohair sofa. Can you get any cooler than that? I don't think so," says Jessica Kain Barton, principal designer at J Kathryn Interiors.
2. Rust and Gray
Take cues from this living room by Veronica Hamlet of Hamlet Interiors and pair rust with a cool color, such as gray. Here, two burnt-orange lounge chairs surrounded by neutrals make quite the impact. The sculptural chandelier centered above is the perfect finishing touch.
3. Rust and Beige
One surefire way to incorporate the color rust into your space is with a luxe sofa. This living room setup spotted on Artilleriet Interiors is a study in how to pull off the swanky look. Step one: Invest in a stunning velvet sofa. Step two: Pair with a beige-colored area rug and matching curtains. Step three: Sit back and enjoy!
4. Rust and Burgundy
You don't need a lot of color variation for rust to make a real visual impact. In fact, a tonal look, like the one in this moody living room spotted on Neptune, can make a big impact. With both having red undertones, burgundy and rust are different enough to offer a bit of contrast yet similar enough that the combo won't take away from the drama of the space.
5. Rust and Royal Blue
Jewel tones bring unparalleled richness and vibrancy to interiors but use them sparingly to keep the look sophisticated and understated. Sabbe Interior Design nailed the balance in this timeless sitting room where a royal blue armchair pops against burnt-orange walls. A curated gallery wall, carved fireplace, and traditional furnishings complete the look.
6. Rust, Teal, and Turquoise
If a maximalist, show-stopping space is what you're after, pair rust with a vibrant hue, like teal. The burnt-orange sectional sofa in this eclectic living room by Justina Blakeney visually anchors the colorful teal and turquoise corner, adding weight while not taking itself too seriously. Casually placed throw pillows, an inlaid coffee table, and pompom fringed curtains enhance the playful mood.
7. Rust and Brown
Another color that has been rising in popularity lately is chocolate brown. We love the way Night Palm Interiors has combined the two in this warm and inviting living room with a rust Mario Bellini sofa and an oversize brown-colored leather ottoman. Even the rose gold mirror hanging on the wall adds to the desert-inspired color scheme.
8. Rust and Light Blue
While earth tones like rust typically impart a more masculine vibe, it's easy to tease out their softer side by pairing them with pastel hues and metallic accents. For example, floor-to-ceiling baby blue zellige tile in this bathroom by Black Lacquer Design adds dimension and also softens the black sink and rust-colored marble countertop for a look that's glamorous and eclectic.
9. Rust and Pink
From the reclaimed wood ceiling and floors to the limewashed pink walls, this dreamy bedroom spotted on Soho Home has an enviable lived-in look yet still feels effortlessly elegant. Thanks to the sculptural furnishings (like that rust channel-tufted headboard!), approachable textiles, and balance of earth tones and cool shades, the combination of rustic and refined works beautifully.
10. Rust and White
The color white is like a blank canvas, which makes it easy to match it with almost any other hue. Martha Mulholland opted for the crisp backdrop in this craftsman-style living room that showcases white walls and furniture, allowing the terra cotta curtains to be the star of the show.
11. Rust and Forest Green
With its red undertones, rust is located at the opposite end of the color wheel from green, making them complementary colors and a winning duo. We love the way Jean Stoffer Design masterfully showcased the pair in this kitchen with the help of forest green cabinets and a stunning vintage runner.
12. Rust and Mustard Yellow
If you're partial to sunset-inspired color palettes, take a look at this bedroom setup by Jenni from I Spy DIY. The mostly rust-colored space is punctuated by a welcome dose of mustard yellow accents in the form of dried foliage, a throw blanket, and the artwork on the wall. The end result is a warm and cozy design that feels oh-so-ready for fall.
Colors That Go With Rust
The color rust is an orange-meets-red-meets-brown hue that calls to mind the warmth of the desert or cozy autumnal days. It's a flexible shade that functions as a neutral despite its earthy undertones, and it coordinates quite flawlessly with a variety of other colors. But before you make a decision, think about what mood you want to evoke in your space. Dark and moody? Bright and eclectic? Or cool, calm, and collected? Another factor to consider is the amount of lighting (natural and artificial) in your room. This will ultimately affect your color scheme.
When you're ready to make a choice, here is a recap of some of our favorite colors to pair with rust:
- Royal blue
- Teal and turquoise
- Light blue
- Forest green
- Mustard yellow