Brown Is The New Hot Decorating Color- Really?

Decorating with the color brown has gotten a bad rap! But, it is the new hot decor color! What goes around come around but brown is new and being used in home decor in pretty new ways. Learn how to use brown to decorate beautiful rooms.
brown and light neutrals in the dining room

What goes around comes around. Especially when it comes to decorating! And decorating with the color brown has come around again! Now before we all get too excited and run around with our hair on fire, brown may not be what it seems. Let’s talk about why we should love brown and tips for using it beautifully in your home.

This post is part of the series Beginning Color Theory For The Home Decorator. Knowing a bit about color and how to use it in your home will help you be a better decorator! There are so many tips and things to understand that will also give you the confidence to make the right decorating choices for your home when it comes to color. And getting the colors in your home right is a very important part of beautiful home decor.

One of my favorite things to do as a decorating blogger is to look at trends and decor forecasts and share them with you! Why is this important? Great question!

Whether you realize it or not new trends like color really do affect how you decorate.

Maybe not in big ways. You might not be embracing the brown decorating trend but you might find a brown accent decor you just love! Like a wooden vase or a white and brown marble chain link because they have been featured by your favorite stores and online sources. They are being featured everywhere partially because brown is a very hot new color!

It’s very subtle, but we are all affected by trends!

I like to look at trends and something new or redone in a new way that can (or not) be fresh and interesting. Or I look at trends because they are a trainwreck and I just can’t look away!

OH, NO! NOT BROWN, AGAIN!!!!!

I thought that too!

If you are anywhere near my age, you might remember the browns from the hippy ’70s or the Tuscan ’90s or even the big brown sofas of the ‘2000. YIKES!

brown sofa
A comfortable leather armchair.

No wonder the thought of brown decor being popular again makes us run away screaming!

Don’t worry my friend, brown is back in a whole new softer more sophisticated way. I know brown might be a hard sell to all of us who lived through those awful brown decor trends of the past! But you can use brown in beautiful ways and LOVE the effect of this wholesome, healing neutral!

brown decorating in the foyer

And right now brown is the darling color of the interior design world.

WHY IS BROWN DECORATING SO POPULAR RIGHT NOW?

Brown is a warm, wonderful neutral that comes from nature. Lots and lots of nature is some shade, hue, or tone of brown. It is the color of the earth! It’s familiar and warm and safe.

Since the pandemic, people are longing for comfort, coziness, and stability. The color brown exudes all these attributes.

We just want our spaces to feel safe!

ISN’T BROWN THE MOST UNPOPULAR COLOR TO DECORATE WITH?

Well, yes it is! But how unfortunate for brown… and for us. It is so much more than the horrid big, fat brown leather sofas that were so popular twenty years ago!

Brown has gotten a very bad rap!

Brown can be rich and soft. Or dark and moody or warm like cinnamon toast. And decorating with a bit of brown can create great beauty in a room if done right.

So let’s set a new default thought when it comes to brown. Let’s look at this misunderstood color in a new light!

BROWN IN NATURE

Let’s circle back and talk about brown in nature.

We see brown in a stand of trees or in the sand and shells on the beach or in the mix of a bird’s feathers! Almost everywhere you look in nature you can see brown.

Brown is the color of nature! And it is the color of us! Breathtaking!

brown eggs

It is all around us creating beauty and bliss!

So why not learn how to use brown to create beauty and bliss in your living space!

A LITTLE HONESTY FROM ME

Here’s the truth, friend… I’m not loving some of the dark, all-brown rooms I’ve been seeing done by designers. They are just, well, too brown! Maybe it’s me! But they look like the ’70s. And no wonder, this whole brown craze started because the ’70s are back! Ugh! So let them style their ugly brown rooms, but we will use brown only in the most gorgeous ways.

Don’t be put off by these way-to-brown rooms. YOU are smarter than those designers! You can use brown to make a room look beautiful!

I love brown in a room when it is highlighted in one large foundational piece of furniture or in a few well-chosen brown accent pieces that are used to make a room interesting.

This post will certainly have my bent towards brown decorating done with a lighter hand.

Another preference of mine is warm colors of brown in my color palette. You can mix cool colors like cool gray and blue with brown and have beautiful results. But I find using very cool grays and warmer than warm browns hard to do. I’m leaving that to better decorators than me!

BEST TIPS FOR DECORATING WITH BROWN

Here are some tips for making smart choices when it comes to brown decorating…

CONQUER YOUR BROWN DECORATING FEAR

If we don’t give up our old default thoughts about what brown decor looks like, we will never be able to see the beauty of brown and its wide range of uses in our homes!

Our living spaces could all probably use a bit of soft, warm, yummy, cozy brown! Those are the adjectives we should be using for this beautiful and misunderstood and maligned decorating color.

So, make friends with brown! Remember all the beautiful varieties of brown in nature! Go out on a limb (pun intended) and buy one small brown item for a room like a beautiful wooden box or a few brown leather books or a pillow.

In fact, look around your home now. I bet you can find lots of decor with brown tones already! There are fabulous creative ways to use brown that will enhance the look of a room.

USE BROWN SMARTLY

It’s important to know how to use brown in a room.

Do you want brown to help you create a moody cozy room? Then maybe painting your walls a deep rich chocolate brown is a savvy way to create a cocoon of warmth!

Brown walls, whether they are a light or deep color can be a beautiful statement in the right room. Just make sure to pick out a warm color. They are richer than black or charcoal or even moody navy blue. Choose a dark, warm brown to paint walls. Stay away from muddy uninspiring browns that are mixed with cool colors. You don’t want walls to look like they were painted with dirt!

How smart to add a sisal rug to a room. Burlaps and Jutes are soft welcoming browns that also add tons of texture.

brown decorating in the living room

Do you want one luscious piece of leather furniture in a rich cognac or a linen dark brown sofa to warm up your space? These pieces sound just so stunning! Make sure to keep pieces like this on the slimmed-down side and with an updated look.

Or do you want to add a beautiful wood bookcase or end table? Oh, what a great idea because wood is so popular right now! Choose almost any wood stain but ones with red or orange undertones. We will chat about wood later in the post.

You might want to choose some lovely brown accessories! Like a mirror with a wooden frame or a basket to stash decorative throws or books in. Or my favorite is something tortoiseshell, like a box or bowl or a candleholder!

There are so many beautiful brown tones to decorate with! Hundreds of paint colors and fabrics and finishes! From rich deep chocolate to taupes to a light neutral colors! Brown adds lots of visual interest to a room.

KEEP IT LIGHT

Here is my take on brown. I think brown can be a beautiful color! I use brown in my home pretty liberally. BUT, I keep most of my brown tints and shades on the lighter side.

Also, and to me this is important, brown is best with white walls! I balance brown with lots of white. Because brown and lots of white look beautiful together! This is how I like brown in my home but there are so many other ways brown decorating can be very successful.

What if you don’t have white walls? A little bit of brown grounds a room, sort of like black, but it is softer and on-trend! Use rich warm and deep shades like deep bronze, chestnut, and smokey topaz.

IS BEIGE BROWN?

brown decorating in the dining area

Yes, basically beige is a lighter, creamier shade of brown. It most often is a yellow-brown mixed with lots of white, but it can also be an orange-brown or a pink-brown, or even a green-brown. It’s all about the undertones! It’s so so important to understand undertones when talking about color.

Beige, a lighter shade of brown, is just so versatile! Like its darker sibling deep chocolate brown, beige is much airier and easier to decorate with for most home decorators.

Think of using colors like taupe, darker warm cream, bisque, tan, off-white, and more.

Here are two very informative and helpful posts with tons of decorating tips…

CAN I MIX WARM AND COOL COLORS- UNDERSTANDING UNDERTONES

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEIGE

USE OTHER NEUTRALS WITH BROWN

brown used in the sunroom

Let’s talk about medium to dark colors of brown.

They play wonderfully with other neutrals. White and off-white are perfect when decorating with brown. And so are most other neutrals.

Just remember, keep your neutrals mostly on the warm side. You can add a touch of cool-toned neutrals to brown for a bit of tension and contrast but don’t overmix the two in your decor! A little goes a long way.

WHAT COLORS GO WITH BROWN?

Brown plays nicely with so many colors! Just keep in mind the undertones of each color. Remember my color mantra…

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE UNDERTONES

Let’s take a cue from nature and look at four of the most popular colors that mix so well with brown.

BROWN AND BLACK

When I was in college my favorite outfit was a brown ribbed tight-fitting bodysuit (anyone remember them?) with matching brown pantyhose and a brown, black, and white mini kilt. Oh, I loved the colors in that skirt! And that is probably why I love those colors together so so much today!

graphic for brown decorating

Brown, black and white is a neutral color palette that can be sophisticated or cozy depending on how you mix these colors.

This is one of my favorite ways to wear brown!

BROWN AND BLUE

Brown and blue is a beautiful combination. Nothing warms up blue and white like a bit of brown!

graphic for brown decorating

Think of the color of the ocean and sand! Brown softens blue and white and makes it look less beachy.

Did you know blue and white is the most popular color combinations in home decor? Just try adding a bit of warm brown and see what happens! Brown is magic when mixed with blue and white.

Also, add a bit of muted mustard yellow or raw sienna to add a pop of brilliant color to this favorite combination!

BROWN AND GREEN

There is a shade of brown for every green! They are a classic match! They are both earthy tones that are perfection in nature. Actually, much of the colors in earthbound nature are green and brown.

graphic for brown decorating

So pare these soothing colors in your decor. Use two shades of green with browns for a classically beautiful look.

Here’s the brown and green color palette for the featured image in this post.

Decorating with the color brown has gotten a bad rap! But, it is the new hot decor color! What goes around come around but brown is new and being used in home decor in pretty new ways. Learn how to use brown to decorate beautiful rooms.

My dining room table, like much of my home, is a mix of white, creamy neutrals, and brown. And my accent color is usually green! I love soft neutral colors with a little bit of green!

BROWN AND PINK

I love what brown does to pink. It helps it to grow up! Brown tones down pink’s feminity so it can be used in any room without looking too girly!

graphic for brown decorating

Add a bit of soft muted mossy green to round out the brown and pink color palette.

This beautiful color palette can even be used in a living room. It’s exquisite.

WOOD IS COMING BACK IN A BIG WAY

Don’t just call wooden furniture “brown”! Wood and stains for wood are big right now and can be honey-colored or caramel or blond or cafe au lait or espresso. I just love the sound of these brownish colors! Describe the color of wooden furniture! Just saying wooden furniture is brown does not do it justice!

Painted furniture has been so popular for a decade or so. It’s still popular and a new classic but wood furniture is also making a big comeback!

So think about a wood soft brown coffee table or dining table. It’s a durable and classic smart choice!

brown decor in the dining room

Our dining table has a painted pedestal base and a soft honey brown wooden top. The brown softens and warms up my very light color palette.

Besides big wooden furnishings, I added small does of wood to my decor like these raw mango wood picture frames in my kitchen.

brown fames in the kitchen

And I added carved wooden balls to a big white bowl on our living room coffee table.

white washed wooden balls in a white bowl

I hope you now see using the color brown as an important way you can add beauty to a room! Embrace the brown decorating trend and start using brown in all its glorious shades in big and little ways in your home.

BROWN DECORATING IN THE DINING ROOM

45 Comments

  1. Hello Yvonne,
    All I can say is that I’m glad I’ve kept a few of my wood pieces. My only consolation in giving so much of it away is that it was really too large in scale for our downsized home.
    I’ve recently added a few white items with a natural wood top and they tie it all together for me. It feels good to see wood featured again!

  2. Yvonne- this is a wonderful post and SO timely for me as i’m in the process of designing a new home. My palette is warm neutrals like you use- off-white, beige, tan, griege with small black accents. I have been trying to figure out how to add some brown to the mix and what tones of brown in wood furniture and accent fabrics. I have not been able to reconcile the brown with the grey but I think it’s all about the right tones and proportion. Thank you for this article!!!

    1. You are so welcome, Diane! Gray and brown are a bit tough to do right. A little gray won’t hurt but it’s hard to put brown in a room with gray walls. Really it’s all about undertones.

  3. This sure is timely! I’m thinking of redecorating my diva den. And truthfully, I’ve never given up on my brown. The sofa in that room, which will stay, is brown. Adjacent rooms are Smokey topaz and dark beige, with blue accents. after reading this, I’m ready to continue the Smokey topaz in that room! For spring, I may add some green and a touch of pink. Thanks for the great post!

    1. You are so welcome Judy. You are in good company. Beige and brown are gaining popularity. We just have to get those dreadful ’70 style brown sofas out of our minds

  4. Personally, I love brown! I must be one of the very few people who did not throw brown furniture away or paint it white.
    As you say, it’s all about the brown tones and which colors one combines brown with. I’m loving your combination of crisp white and light brown.

      1. I never stopped using brown. My last 3 master bedrooms have been Ganache. We are moving to a new home in May. The master bedroom will be ganache. My comforter , drapes, and chairs are a soft blue floral with brown and beige undertones. I love it. I never bought into that boring gray! I am so glad I did not! We also just purchased 2 brown leather chairs for our den! I love brown!

  5. Yvonne, thank you for your post. I love Brown and use it in our Master bedroom. Our walls are a light Apricot color, but our comforter and shams are a deep, rich Brown in the winter months. I’ve accented the room with soft pinks and some green. I find the palette elegant, soothing and rich. And like you mentioned, Brown is a warm, earthy color that can be softened with other lighter shades such as pinks, greens or apricot.

    1. Great tip and your bedrooms sound beautiful. I love apricot and brown. In the fall and winter, we have a soft brown velvet comforter and we love it!Maybe I need to add a bit of apricot!

  6. I resisted the paint everything trend and am happy I did so. Classic brown wood pieces never go out of style. And, I’m happy to say, I didn’t buy any of those big brown sofas/chairs they were selling at all the big box stores choosing light coloured more streamlined pieces. I love the touches of light beige/brown you added in small ways.

      1. I live in a very light, white home , lots of painted furniture, with a few antique brown wood pieces mixed in. The wood tones help to ground the rooms. Also, I cannot get behind the blue brown combo because I saw so much of it about 6 years ago in the home decor store I worked in, it was a very popular combination I admit.
        Love your posts!

  7. This was a fantastic write up about all the shades & nuances of brown! Thank you for sharing examples from nature. I never thought brown would come back again right after grey. I do prefer the lighter shades & wood tones. I actually have a lot of beige & taupe in our house but in more of a coastal feel with lots of white. I love the pics of your home, so lovely.

  8. I am trying to pin your color selections on Pinterest, and it doesn’t seem to work. It’s not directing me…

    1. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in those color palette images so I disabled them. When I get home tonight I’ll make some nice pins so they can be pinned. Check back late tonight or tomorrow for the pins.

  9. Thank you this post is just what I needed, I recently found your blog and enjoying learning about concepts I’ve never new or learned in decor, always felt so lost! I have a brown couch and brown wood coffee table and end table, and was trying to figure a color palette. I now have goals of the brown pink and mossy green palette.

  10. hehe, my brown leather couches and my cherrywood furniture are back in style! I’m keeping my accents light though!

  11. Unlike all of the others who commented; I detest brown, beige, off white, cream, or any other shade of it’s ilk. The only “brown” I can stand is taupe. I’m not a fan of any warm colors or neutrals. I love color in my living space. I love blues and greens and plums and pinks. I need color in my world that is pleasing to my eye, not what the “trends” dictate. My pecan curio cabinet and cherryish bedroom set and a few mahogany antiques are all the brown I’ll ever need in my home. I have painted my wooden end tables and coffee table a very pale (almost white) grey and like them so much better than I did when they were that awful “golden oak”. I’ve never been a slave to trends. They come and go. I decorate with what is pleasing to me. I’m not a fan of the bare metal accents, so have steered away from them. I’m not a fan of the velvet flowers and pumpkins; so I don’t have any. People have always complimented my decor so I must be doing something right. Both of the homes I’ve sold were sold to the first buyer who looked at them and the realtors told me it was because of my lovely decorating.

    So all of you brown lovers can go ahead and embrace this new trend and I’m glad it’s something you love and feel comfortable atound. I will stick with what works for me. I guess the 70s really turned me off on brown.

  12. I am looking at the rug in the picture under the title decorating with neutral and brown the couch has a gray pillow on it and a wall of windows behind it sorry to be a pain but I love the rug thanks so much

  13. I’m ready for ANY color other than gray! I never understood how that lasted so long. Gray is a depressing color while brown at least reflects more in nature. Bring on the browns!!

  14. Thank you, For mentioning Brown Decor. I have a large Brown sofa and loveseat . The color is so versatile. I choose the pale Green , Gold, Cream pallette . But Sometimes I like to change it up a bit. Thankyou .! Lauri

  15. Do you have any site to purchase the pictures in your kitchen?
    I look forward to reading your articles each day!
    Your neutral colors are beautiful!

  16. It’s about time! I painted my living room a green-based chocolate brown a dozen years ago. I have white trim, white bookcases flanking my fireplace and a white mantel. My decor is brown, teal, sea glass and ivory. My mantle is decorated with mercury glass, crystal and silver. The room does not look dark, it looks cozy.

  17. Good morning – can you tell me where you got the Gather sign? I love it over the mantel.

  18. You did a great job explaining all the beauty of brown and combinations.
    I didn’t like brown all those other times it was popular, and I’m not changing. I just not an earth-tone (brown, russet, olive) fan.

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