There are a lot of colors that go with olive green from all across the spectrum, including bright pops of primary color to more sultry shades and neutral hues. Olive green is, overall, an amenable color to add into the mix.
Quietly calming and positive, olive green has a timeless quality too, and can be manipulated to create a cozy and comforting ambiance in your home. The good news is that olive green is flexible. ‘Olive green suits all types of homes,’ points out Ruth Mottershead from Little Greene, ‘from period properties to contemporary new builds.'
Choosing the right colors that go with green is the trick to make it work, so wherever you want to use this classic color, make sure you carefully consider how to pair it.
To get inspired, here are some experts tips for using this hue as a base for your room, and the best colors that go with olive green to make the perfect partnership.
What are the colors that go with olive green best?
'With the focus on staying home over the past few years, we have found ourselves craving colours that make us feel closer to the natural world,’ says Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene. 'We are seeing a change to the use of dark and mid-greens like olive being used all over as a base colour, similar to how neutrals have been used traditionally.'
'Olive green works wonderfully in bedrooms because of the serene calming mood it creates, and it works in rooms that overlook a garden or greenery, as it serves as a natural extension, giving the impression of bringing the outside in.’
1. Olive green and mint
Think tonal and create an interesting scheme by trying green on green. In this example, from Kelly Wearstler (opens in new tab)'s California paint collection for Farrow & Ball, this minty shade called Palm is designed as a love letter to the palms of the LA skyline, and teams well with the deep olive hue accented by the furniture. The result is this bohemian look that is calming and restorative, taking its cues from nature.
‘Green has become such a popular color because people are wanting to add life to their spaces and bring nature in,’ explains Sue Wadden, color marketer at Sherwin-Williams. ‘We went from seeing bolder colors trending the past couple of years to seeing warmer, nature-inspired hues. A grounding olive green creates an earthy vibe. From a color psychology standpoint, green is the color of nature, revitalization and growth,’ she adds.
2. Olive green and cream
Bring the depth of olive green to the fore by pairing it with a delicate cream tone. ‘Olive Green is a very strong yet quite muted color,’ says Fanny Abbes of New York-based The New Design Project (opens in new tab). ‘So you can decide to make it the star of the show as the main accent and keep the rest very neutral.’
In this rental development project in Queens, the brief was to make the units exciting for a young, professional market. 'We wanted to emphasize how the space, regardless of size, can be fun and used cleverly by creating moments of interest through blocks of color, shapes and a muted yet fresh color palette,' explains Abbes.
3. Olive green and white
Consider the types of material that might complement olive green as well as your paint options. In this example, a deVOL (opens in new tab)-designed Paddington Shaker kitchen, the customers originally settled on a dramatic San Simone quartzite black, but changed their minds and went for a bespoke green paint to complement the honed Statuarietto marble.
Marble and green pair beautifully. The olive hue takes center stage while the dazzling marble and brassware gleams.
4. Olive green and black
In this example from Chicago-based design firm, PROjECT (opens in new tab), olive green’s moody quality is harnessed and emphasized for a bold look, with black and white checkerboard flooring against the olive green. The overall effect is sleek and elegant, sophisticated and dramatic.
'Olive green is comforting, sultry, and bold on its own, yet plays nice with nearly every color,' says Aimee Wertepny of PROjECT. 'Layered with a monochrome pattern like the Kelly Wearstler tile in this entry, green can really activate a space and set the vibe high. An immediate mood enhancer in my book.'
5. Olive green and pink
Olive green is one of the most charming colors that goes with pink. It's a classic pairing that crops up time and time again in modern interior schemes.
These two shades work so well because they create a sense of balance. Blush pink softens a green tone, while the warmer tones of olive green keep the palette feeling youthful and fun.
Play with the varying shades of green and pink, and opt for a dark olive to give this classic combination a revamp. Use the pairing on walls, or work it into your furniture or cabinetry, as in this kitchen design by Dabito (opens in new tab), featuring the Big Chill 33" Retro Original Fridge (opens in new tab) in Classic White.
6. Olive green and taupe
Olive green also works well when paired with taupe, as per this example from House of Grey (opens in new tab), where a dark olive green velvet bed looks all the more sumptuous against the wall. The shade on the wall is taken from the Visual Silence collection from House of Grey with Bauwerk (opens in new tab).
The paint is a soft neutral lime wash paint with a touch of taupe for warmth and depth. The olive green velvet upholstered on the bed is from Dedar (opens in new tab).
7. Olive green and orange
Orange is a great way to add a touch of warmth and depth to olive green. It provides stark contrast, can be fun and playful and encourages a retro vibe. ‘We've recently been inspired by handcrafted modernism and pairing more organic colors and shapes with contrastingly strong, more brutalist lines,’ says interior designer, Stelly Selway (opens in new tab).
‘Olive green is evocative of both the natural world as well as warmth and comfort, and makes for a statement-making background for oranges – particularly in complement to warmer tones in glossy or metallic finishes.’
'Olive green is a versatile colour which when paired with brighter colours sits as more as a neutral,' adds Saskia Howard, creative director at Howark Design (opens in new tab).' In this kitchen we paired the olive cabinetry with the vibrant orange range cooker which created at sense of energy and reflected the clients love of colour, which was continued throughout the property.'
'The neutral splashback tiles and panelling in the kitchen balanced the strength and vibrancy on the space and allowed green and orange to sing,' she adds.
8. Olive green and red
For a more dynamic contrast, olive green is a color that goes with red, burgundy, cherry and coral – giving a room real zest and giving energy to the space. ‘Being opposite sides of the color wheel, red and green are naturally complementary colors. It’s important when decorating with complementary colors, particularly when using vibrant versions of them, that you allow one to dominate,’ says internationally acclaimed interior designer Fiona Campbell (opens in new tab) ..
‘The red of the chair works as an accent here to the backdrop of the larger expanse of painted walls. Another trick is to use a less saturated version of the colour; olive green being more harmonious than a super vibrant green.’
9. Olive green and wood tones
Using hues that allude to nature and the environment is a nice way to embed olive green into a scheme. ‘Green is nature’s neutral’, explains Lane McNab of the San Francisco-based interior design firm, Lane McNab Interiors (opens in new tab). ‘It looks good with everything.'
Olive green has an earthiness that really sets off and complements pretty much any wood tone.’ In this particular kitchen in Palo Alto, California, the wood and dark green work together, the green provides depth while the white and wood marry for a bright overall finish.
10. Olive green and blue
Green and blue is another winning combination. 'It's a pairing we often use as our neutral base, say Jen and Mar, co-founders of Interior Fox (opens in new tab). 'They are closely connected on the color wheel, so it's easy to introduce the two tones to create an illusion of more color without overpowering the space. Fresh, earthy and completely versatile, you can't go wrong.
'The trick is to tone up or down depending on the desired outcome. For a calming effect, opt for lighter colors offset by natural finishes, or for a more sumptuous scheme, choose darker shades like olive green. We find that darker hues add more shadows and different tones when the light hits and make the perfect backdrop for brass accents,' they say.
What colors go with olive green that you wouldn't expect?
Whether it’s paint, furniture or even a plant, olive green is a beautiful addition to any color scheme. 'Green is one of our favorite colors to incorporate into projects,' says Britt Zunino, principal of Studio DB (opens in new tab), who also has some suggestions for bolder color combinations with olive.
'Some of my favorite green color combinations include deep olive layered with pale lavender and a pop of acid yellow and/or cobalt blue,' she says.
'We recently covered the walls of a double-height living room in a soft minty blue-green. The ceiling and crown molding were painted a few shades darker with the intention of creating a cozier space. I’m excited to incorporate poppy-red, deep forest green, and creamy accents to the room too.'
Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.