What Colors Go With Rust?

Rich and earthy, rust is the most recent interior design craze, and it isn’t hard to see why. If you’re hopping on this trend, you probably want to know what colors compliment rust best.

Rust goes with most colors, but it works best with other earthy greens and browns. Alternatively, it looks exceptionally chic with brighter colors like teal, light blue or more intense colors like burgundy and black. Each produces unique visual effects and creates a distinct mood in a room.

Let’s dive deep into color theory and interior design concepts to discover the possibilities of this gorgeous color.

Rust goes with most colors, but it works best with other earthy greens and browns.

Choosing Complementary Colors for Rust

Rust is a vibrant, versatile color. It’s becoming increasingly popular as an accent or main staple color because it creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

There are a handful of factors to consider when choosing a complementary color for rust. When doing so, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want a warm or cool color scheme?
  • Do you want to make a room feel more spacious or more intimate?
  • What type of mood do you want to create?

I’ll discuss this in more detail below:

Create Warmth or Coolness in a Room

Rust works equally well with warm and cool colors, so the sky’s the limit as far as these pairings go. The real question is whether you want to create a warm or a cool effect in your space.

Combine the following colors with rust to create a warm palette:

  • Beige
  • Terracotta
  • Copper
  • Muted greens
  • Warm browns
  • Off-white
  • Lighter or darker shades of orange
  • Beige greys, or greiges

Vivid and neutral warm tones can accentuate your design superbly, and it all depends on your personal taste. Warm neutrals lend themselves to a more contemporary look, while bright accents can create a more visually stimulating environment.

Some would argue that rust fits in better with cooler colors:

  • White
  • Black
  • Cool greys
  • Deep blues
  • Dark greens
  • Deep purples

This way, the warmth of the rust makes it stand out against an otherwise cool and calm environment and moves it away from feeling too sterile or unwelcoming.

Combining rust with opposite hues creates a stunning visual effect and a fashionable interior.

The ratio of rust to other cooler colors will change the whole balance of a room, so decide whether you want the space to be cooler or warmer and design your interior based on that.

More rust means more warmth, while fewer rust accents will create a cool area. Watch the video below to learn more about various colors, their warm and cool qualities, and how to accessorize with them in a home:

Play With Color and Space

Color influences the temperature of a room, but it can also play with space and dimensions. Specific colors can make a room feel larger or more intimate, and they can create a sense of cohesion and flow between various other rooms in a house.

Light colors make a room feel larger because they reflect light, and they trick the eye into thinking the room is more extensive, and every detail of the wall is visible, making the details and dimensions clearer than darker colors would.

It gives the illusion of more space to work with and less clutter, making it a popular choice for a minimalist design.

A lighter or brighter rust shade would give the same illusion and make for a more open and spacious effect.

Dark colors make a room feel smaller and they look cluttered quicker. They can also create an intimate, cozy space with laid-back energy. You must, therefore, be more selective of your decor and design.

Darker shades of rust lend themselves beautifully to creating a snug, relaxing space while still bringing in an invigorating pop of color. If you don’t want to create this illusion, include smaller accents of deeper rust into the room to tie it together.

A unified color scheme can also create a cohesive home design and a flow from one room to the next. If you scatter rust-colored cushions and other accessories from the kitchen to the dining room, the path between the rooms feels natural, and it makes the space feel larger and more unified.

This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t use too many colors in your design. The space will begin to feel cluttered and incohesive, so choose one or two primary accent colors to compliment the rust elements.

Besides using color, there are various ways to make a room look larger or to influence the space of a room without actually changing its dimensions. Erikka Dawn Interiors will take you through these techniques in the video below:

Use Color To Create an Atmosphere

Rust is the color of clay, iron oxide, terracotta, and many other earthy elements that hint at a hot and nature-rich environment.

Interior design is far more than matching colors and placing furniture; it’s about creating an atmosphere using various elements such as color and placement.

Using rust as a base, there are endless color combinations you could try to create different atmospheres:

  • Rust and white: This pairing would combine the cool tranquility of white with the warm energy of rust to create a soothing and grounded atmosphere.
  • Rust and deep blue: Using warm and cool colors together creates a balanced and visually interesting environment. Reminiscent of Art Deco design, this color combination brings in a richness and opulence that makes it a truly memorable pairing.
  • Rust and muted green: Two earthy colors with vastly different shades create a gorgeous, fresh, vibrant look without becoming visually overwhelming.
  • Rust and black: This is a bold choice that will absolutely pay off and give the impression of a sophisticated and high-fashion, yet warm and comfortable, setting.

Colors You Shouldn’t Use With Rust

Rust, though dynamic, doesn’t go with every single color on the spectrum, especially when it comes to interior design.

Placing small splashes of traditionally clashing colors in a room isn’t a disaster; in fact, it can be quite stylish. But if you want rust to define a space, there are some colors you shouldn’t include in your color scheme:

  • Hot pink
  • Bright red
  • Lime green
  • Magenta

You’ll notice that these are pretty loud colors on their own, but when combined with rust, they’re positively garish. They draw attention away from the gorgeous rust accents and create more of an eyesore than anything else.

That’s not to say that muted or deep versions of these colors don’t work well with rust, quite the opposite.

But the critical feature of a cohesive color scheme is that the colors aren’t competing for attention. They all bring something unique to the space and naturally lead the eye around the room.

Why Certain Colors Don’t Mix

Everyone has looked at a particularly gaudy home color scheme or poorly color-coded outfit and had an itch they couldn’t seem to scratch. There’s actually a scientific reason for this.

Complementary color schemes work well together because all three primary colors are present and theoretically look very pleasing (not always practically, though).

Orange and blue are complementary colors. Orange brings in red and yellow, which, when paired with blue, includes every primary color.

This looks excellent when the right shades are matched, but the theory goes out the window if the wrong ones are paired.

The opposite also applies. Pairing primary colors with other primary colors, secondary colors with different secondary colors, etc., creates discord, and the brain can’t process a dominant and subordinate color.

  • If equally saturated reds and blues are used together, it can look unappealing.
  • Orange and purple in similar shades look unsightly together.
  • Rust, paired with a similar shade of green, results in the two colors fighting for attention. This presents an overall cluttered and even unsettling effect.

Is Rust a Good Color for Interior Design?

Rust is associated with vintage and retro design, and like most big trends, it’s made a huge comeback.

Sometimes referred to as burnt orange, rust is a stellar addition to any interior. Some throw cushions here, an accent wall there, rust can create visual interest in a diverse range of ways, whether it’s the dominant or subordinate color.

Neutrals like beige and brown work well if used correctly, but if overdone, they can turn your space into a kitsch 1950s-esque nightmare. Rust is the perfect balance between neutral and vivid, injecting life into a room without overwhelming the senses.

Incorporating Pops of Color Into a Space

Interior design has limitless possibilities, with entire rooms as blank canvases for you to use however you like.

Sometimes, painting on a whim whenever you choose a new favorite color isn’t a sustainable option or even an option at all. That’s why learning about all the creative ways to incorporate your favorite hue into your living space is beneficial.

Here are a few simple and affordable ways to include pops of color in your design:

  • Rugs: A rug can bring a room together like magic and function as a dynamic and fun way to brighten a space.
  • Textiles: Tastefully placed throw cushions and blankets can make a space feel like home and double as a chic design element that lets you sneak bursts of color noncommittally.
  • Accessories: Including picture frames, plant pots, or even books of a particular color is a subtle yet effective way to add character to a design in a way that feels effortless and natural.
  • Accents: A more committal approach is to include a piece of furniture or two of a specific color or even to paint one wall or parts of a wall in your desired color. This is an excellent option for those pursuing a bolder look.

A more permanent solution to this is, of course, to go right ahead and paint your room rust or whichever other color you love.

A room painted entirely in one color, especially one as striking as rust, is a statement to be sure, but a statement nobody can resist.

If you opt for this route, you’ll need to be more selective of your accessories and furniture going forward, so beware that your new color scheme might not blend perfectly with old furnishings and accessories.

This could be tricky to work around if you’re set on your statement color, but the suggestions listed above provide some fabulous alternative ideas to going all-in and painting an entire room.

Although rust is pretty eye-catching, it doesn’t take much to liven up a room. A retro lamp and matching rug should do the trick, especially if this is a color scheme you want to incorporate throughout your home, and not just in one room.

The Relationship Between Color and Emotion

Rust is a striking color, so a great option would be to use it as your primary accent color and offset it against a muted or deeper background, like off-white or deep teal. This elevates the visual interest while keeping it clean and simple.

Most people have recognized at some point that certain colors evoke particular emotions. Blue is often associated with sadness, but it’s also the most common favorite color in the world. Rust has equally diverse associations.

Rust itself often evokes feelings of melancholy. Nobody wants to find rust on their bicycle or cooking pot. The color is very different, though.

Shades of orange are associated with:

  • Harmony
  • Energy
  • Change
  • Health
  • Wisdom

This differs from person to person; everyone has a unique experience with color and attaches emotions and memories to them differently.

Including rust and other shades of orange in a living space will imbue all of these values and emotions into the area as well, creating a balanced and energized environment.

To enhance this effect even further, match colors that balance these emotions out. For example, adding another highly energetic color can cause a clash, but including a more subdued color will complement the energy and keep it controlled.

The below table illustrates what sorts of imagery and emotions various colors evoke and how they might work well with rust:

ColorPositive AssociationHow They Complement Rust
BlackPowerMysteryEleganceBlack refines a color scheme and brings a level of sophistication that rust lacks.  
WhitePurityCleanlinessSimplicityWhite emphasizes the brightness of rust while keeping the overall environment clean and relaxed.
GreenStabilityPeaceHealthRust represents change, so green is a perfect grounding element without compromising visual appeal.
BlueSerenityIntegrity SecurityBalance out the change and energy elements of orange with the security and peace of blue.
BeigeConservationComfortReliabilityBeige and other shades of brown will have a grounding effect on the bright and energetic rust.

Colors with similar values to rust and other shades of orange can become overwhelming and make a space unpleasant, even if those colors’ values are positive. As it turns out, you can have too much of a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Rust is a versatile color with a lot of energy and positive connotations, so it works well with more muted or darker colors that balance this energy out. Dark teal and off-white as some of the most popular color matches for rust.

Rust is a fun and fashionable color in all aspects of life, particularly in interior design. There are a multitude of big and small ways to incorporate it into your space, including rugs and various home accessories.

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