Use the color green to evoke the positive symbolism and vibrant qualities of this striking color. The color green is well-loved for its vibrant hues and for its positive associations. From moody and mature shades of evergreen and forest to the silvery shades of pale sage, you can use the full spectrum of the color green to impact your mood and bring vitality to your home.
Basics Qualities of the Color Green
Green is a color on the visible spectrum between cyan (blue-green) and yellow. As a middle color on the spectrum, many consider the color green one of balance. We associate green with growth and life because the natural world is filled with the color green. Chlorophyll, a chemical component we find in algae and plants, has a green pigmentation. Animals and people have adapted to this natural green environment by adopting shades of green for camouflage and reasons of beauty.
Modern English derives the word green from the Middle English and Old English word grene the root of which is the same as that of grass or grow. Other languages like the Romance, Slavic, and Greek that coined independent words for green, derived their word for green from those we associate with vitality and growth.
People have associated green with positivity and health in most cultures and throughout time.
We associate the green color meaning with the natural world because of the predominance of the color green in nature. With the ever-present example of new spring growth, many people associate light green shades with freshness and vitality. We see dark green as a symbol of maturity and stability, similar to those shades we find in mature forests.
Life and Health
In Chinese culture, green symbolizes the east or the sunrise, a symbol of new life. Like in Western culture, where green signifies healthy living, in many Asian cultures, green means clean and free of contamination. The green color is also important in Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. Historic writings point to the coming of al-Khadir, or the “Green One”, who is a symbol of immortality.
Modern scientific studies even show that green environments can reduce feelings of fatigue and may have a positive effect on your mood and exertion while exercising.
Calm and Balance
The color green is the complementary color of red in the traditional color model. Artists and designers use the soothing qualities of green to balance the passion and fire of red. Green colors also promote feelings of serenity and well-being which can balance the body and mind.
Wealth and Prosperity
It is understandable that the color we associate with growth, we also connect with wealth and prosperity. Green is the color of the lucky shamrock in Ireland as well as the color of money in the United States. A green card permits residence, and a green light means to “go”.
In the Chinese language, the same symbol they use for green is a homophone of the word for youth. They consider this a symbol of wealth and prosperity because it symbolizes growth and abundance. The Chinese often paint banks, buildings, and restaurants green.
Hope and Optimism
The color green signifies hope or an optimistic approach to the future. We associate the color green with fresh and new beginnings, even after a period of difficulty or distress. We have examples of this in nature when new growth arrives in a forest after a devastating wildfire. Arab cultures associate green with optimism because of green’s symbolic association with their afterlife, where they will wear green clothes within the lush gardens and tree-lined streets of Jannah.
Using the Color Green in Interior Design
Green is a popular color in home design. Embrace the vitality of bright fern or the soothing character of pale celadon to bring the beauty of nature in all her splendid forms into your home.
Ideal Rooms for the Color Green
Evoke a more positive atmosphere by incorporating shades of green in various rooms throughout your home.
- Bedrooms – Muted shades of natural green are restful and restorative, so using them in bedrooms is an ideal choice. Choose light to mid-toned greens with a healthy dose of gray and blue for the most soothing options.
- Exercise Rooms – Scientific studies have shown that green colors that mimic nature increase our exertion and reduce fatigue. Choose a vibrant but not too bright natural shade of green for your exercise space.
- Home Office/Study – Evoke green’s qualities of stability by using a deep and moody green for your home office of study.
- Kitchen – We associate green with the freshness of nature, so green is an ideal choice for kitchens. Using muted sage greens for cabinets is a stylish way to bring green into the kitchen.
- Bathrooms – Many bathroom spaces are small and lack windows. Give your bathroom a fresh new look with green paint.
Colors to Pair with Shades of Green
There is such a variety of green tones, that you are sure to find one to pair with other colors to evoke different looks and feelings in a room.
Forest Green and Warm White
Shades of deep forest green paired with warm white or cream can create a harmonious balance of dark and light. With its cool undertones, forest green is softened by the addition of the warm tones in white and cream. White helps to soften the intensity of the dark shade and balance the overall look. We recommend pairing Benjamin Moore’s Black Forest Green (HC-187) with November Rain (2142-60).
Olive Green and Beige
The muted earth tones of olive green and beige create a natural and cohesive look that hails straight from the Mediterranean coast. Depending on the shade of olive, beige can blend more or tone down the intensity of the olive. For a darker toned olive green, try Olive Grove (7734) and pair it with a light beige, Natural Choice (7011). These are both available from Sherwin Williams.
Silvery Green and Slate Blue
Try a silvery aloe green with a medium gray blue for a style with nuance and depth. The pale whisper of green is enriched by the deep blue to achieve the perfect balance. We recommend Silken Pine (2144-50) paired with Normandy (2129-40) from Benjamin Moore.
Emerald Green and Gold
Like green and blue, green and yellow are a natural combination. Heighten the style of any room by using dramatic tones of each. Emerald green and brilliant gold yellow create a luxe combination. Try Beau Green (2054-20) and Buttercup (2154-30) from Benjamin Moore to create an over-the-top look.
Rainforest Green and Anthracite Gray
Try a combination of rainforest green for a fresh but moody look. The rainforest green color provides a look of stability that is the perfect backdrop for deep anthracite gray accents. These colors give you a sense of rich color without being overwhelming. Consider Lush (AF-475) and Kendall Charcoal (HC-166) from Benjamin Moore if you want to try this pairing.
Rich Gray-Green and Dusty Red
Green and red are contrasting colors, so they are ideal for balancing one another. Green shades mute the vibrancy of red, and red colors bring intensity to green. We associate red and green with Christmas decorations, but nuanced shades of these colors look beautiful all year. We love Redend Point (9081), Sherwin Williams color of the year for 2023 for the muted red option here. Pair it with Urbane Bronze (7048), a deep brownish gray/green, to create a sophisticated and tranquil look.
The Best Shades of Green
Green can be vibrant or soothing, dramatic or serene depending on the shade. Find the best shade for your interior spaces and learn to pair it with colors that complement and contrast this gorgeous tone.
Shades of Light Green
- Hollingsworth Green (HC-177) from Benjamin Moore – Hollingsworth Green is a pale paint color that is a blend of green and blue with just enough gray to give it a soothing quality. The more light you have in your room, the lighter this color becomes.
- Softened Green (6177) from Sherwin Williams – Softened Green is a light and muted earthy green paint color with yellow undertones. Pair with warm neutrals like beige and cream to accent the warmth of this color. It is a serene color with presence but without being overpowering.
- Teresa’s Green (No. 236) from Farrow & Ball – Teresa’s Green is a warm and soft celadon green with a healthy dose of blue. It is a rich but light shade that is sophisticated enough for a living room and serene enough for a bedroom. Pair with deep colors like red, gray, and navy for a dramatic effect.
- Escape Gray (6185) from Sherwin Williams – Escape Gray is a cool green tone with a blend of gray and blue undertones. This color can read as a neutral, so it works well in large spaces like living and dining rooms as well as bedrooms.
- Soft Fern (2144-40) from Benjamin Moore – Soft Fern is a pale and muted spring green color. It has warm undertones of yellow but is toned down by a touch of gray. Pair with warm neutrals like cream, beige, and dark gray.
Shades of Medium Green
- Evergreen Fog (9130) from Sherwin Williams – Evergreen Fog is a light-medium green gray with a hint of blue to keep the undertones cool. The gray in color mutes the overall effect to create a soothing and elegant green.
- Carolina Gull (2138-40) from Benjamin Moore – Carolina Gull is a rich mid-toned green with a healthy dose of blue. This color also has rich gray undertones which mute the intensity of the color to give it a muted teal look.
- Hazel (6471) from Sherwin Williams – Sherwin Williams calls Hazel a “green-influenced blue”. Hazel leans toward the aqua side of green. This vivid and cheerful color is perfect for a child’s room or anywhere you want to brighten the space.
- Green Smoke (No. 47) from Farrow & Ball – Green Smoke is a mid to dark-toned green with rich gray undertones. As the name suggests, this color looks like it has weathered into comfortable familiarity over time. Pair with warm neutrals like tan, khaki, and cream.
- Palace Green (CW-520) from Benjamin Moore – Palace Green is a sophisticated yet fresh mid-toned green color. It is an elegant mixture of Prussian blue, white, and yellow.
Shades of Dark Green
- Tarrytown Green (HC-134) from Benjamin Moore – Tarrytown Green is a dark green with a generous undertone of blue. This is a bold and chic color, but it is not too overwhelming for a small room.
- Evergreens (6447) from Sherwin Williams – Evergreens is a saturated jewel-like green that is reminiscent of forest colors. It can represent quiet stability or vibrancy depending on the colors you pair with it.
- Pewter Green (6208) from Sherwin Williams – Pewter Green is a dark but muted green with a significant amount of gray. The gray tones the green to create a calm and soothing color that reads more neutral than other dark green paint colors.
- Salamander (2050-10) from Benjamin Moore – Salamander is a deep forest green mixed with generous portions of blue and black. This deep shade of green pairs well with warm neutrals.