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.
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!
HOW TRENDS AFFECT YOU
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?
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…
USE OTHER NEUTRALS WITH BROWN
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
And I added carved wooden balls to a big white bowl on our living room coffee table.
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.