Color Inspiration

The Unsinkable Color Brown

January 28, 2008

By Rachel Perls of Hue Consulting, decor8 guest writer.

Ah, good ol? brown. Woodsy, earthy, dependable. It?s not actually a spectral hue, but a dark version of orange. All the same, rustic, wholesome brown is a staple in interior design and deserves its moment of glory.

The Unsinkable Color Brown via: LivingEtc.

What words come to mind when you think of brown? Snuggly, rich, comfy, natural, soothing, luxurious and warm may be a few. It?s also a safe choice, if red shouts, then brown is a soft hum. Brown’s pale sibling, beige, is a very popular wall color here in the states. No wonder IKEA targeted us with their popular “Be Brave, Not Beige” campaign including a fun website dedicated to encouraging the infusion of saturated color into the home, especially the ‘typical’ American one. While I believe strongly in the use of color in a space, I?m not entirely against beige and its milky cohorts. From buff to burgundy, rust to wheat, brown can give you a huge range of looks and whether understated or bold, it’s often a terrific canvas to work from.

The Unsinkable Color Brown Subdued colors shown here in Laura’s Bohn soothing
living room via the New York Social Diary.

The Unsinkable Color BrownSoft and cozy via: LivingEtc.

The Unsinkable Color Brown via: House to Home UK.

These neutral tones can work quite in supporting roles: to provide a backdrop to accent pieces, or maintain continuity between stronger tones. The warm mushroom chaise lounge works wonderfully here as a counter-balance to the soft grey wall.

The Unsinkable Color Brown Here, deep brown paint provides weight and a sense of depth in this sitting area. Chocolate also look lovely in smaller spaces, such as an entry, kitchen, or bathroom. via: Homes and Gardens UK.

The Unsinkable Color Brown
Wood floors are a basic component of most homes. And wood furniture. Most people stop there, concluding that since wood is brown all wood furniture must match. Right? Have you ever considered that each variety, while still ?brown?, has a different undertone? Cedar, pine, oak, cherry wood tones range from red, to orange, blonde or even blush. via: Flooring Express.

The Unsinkable Color Brown Chocolate bread pudding cupcakes with toasted walnuts, homemade
toffee, and cream by Cheryl Porro, recipe here.

Think of the food craze for a moment, chocolate and coffee. Ranging from milky caf? au lait to triple shot espressos, cupcakes, and cookies. Not only does chocolate taste great, but it can create a genuine sense of warmth and security, while stirring up your appetite. No wonder that it’s called Comfort Food. (Now I?m hungry!)

Speaking of food, aren?t these walls below simply edible? Brown is an excellent choice when you want to set off a more saturated hue. Think about contrast – dark against light, muted against bright. Brown and orange, or turquoise, or pink…

The Unsinkable Color BrownThe Unsinkable Color Brown Think Martha Stewart brown and the baby blue craze via Domino magazine.

The Unsinkable Color Brownvia GV Interiors.

The Unsinkable Color Brown How?s this for a decadent feeling Kelly Wearstler-esque space?
via Domino magazine.

The Unsinkable Color Brown All grown-up in this variation with cerulean blue seating
and textured walls. via: LivingEtc.

The Unsinkable Color Brown Here?s a nod to the brown and pink fad. via: Zia Priven Lighting.

The Unsinkable Color Brown A passion for purple? This unexpected combination really
works in this space. Warm brown is rustic, while purple adds
a modern playful touch. Love it! via: The Rug Company.

The Unsinkable Color Brown You can also go light and airy with a touch of vintage.
This seems to be all the rage at the moment. via: LivingEtc.

The Unsinkable Color Brown via: LivingEtc.

The Unsinkable Color Brown Or you can try brown with a little navy and lilac, a bit more masculine
and sophisticated while still providing relaxation and comfort. via: LivingEtc.

The Unsinkable Color Brown The Unsinkable Color Brown via: West Elm.

The Unsinkable Color Brown
via: Domino magazine.

The Unsinkable Color Brown
Texture and pattern are important considerations when you?re mixing monochromatic (one color) elements. To dabble in brown, start with accent pieces: a throw pillow or piece of artwork. Amenity Home has a beautiful range of textile pieces to bring nature inside.

By combining lights and darks, and layering different textures together, basic brown spaces can become anything but boring. Do you like using it in your space? I bet you have more of it around than you realize!

[To read more of Rachel’s posts on decor8 about color, click here. Thank you Rachel for stopping in today, with chocolate lining all the aisles of stores, your timing is great!]

(images all linked above to their source.)


  • Reply kimmithylaine January 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    I just love the color BROWN! Beautiful stuff here!

  • Reply Shabbyfufu January 29, 2008 at 12:50 am

    WOW…my 24 yr old daughter turned me on to your blog, as it’s her favorite. Although my style is not quite as modern, I will enjoy looking through all of your posts. A wealth of information! ~Janet~

  • Reply jen January 29, 2008 at 2:42 am

    WONDERFUL post! i could not live without chocolate! our bedroom is painted a dark mocha with a white stucco ceiling – it always makes me think that I am floating in a frothy mocha latte when i am in bed… ahhh… pure bliss…

  • Reply design snitch January 29, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I’m all over the brown and purple- gorgeous! Thanks for the inspiration on that one. Oh- and thanks for making me hungry, too!! :)

  • Reply Lynne Rutter January 29, 2008 at 7:02 am

    wow, just when i thought it was all over for brown. up with brown!

  • Reply Petra :-) January 29, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Hey Holly :-)
    love to read your blog, once a day I have to ;-)
    I am in love, too with this fantastic Chocolate bread pudding….
    Petra ;-)

  • Reply Topsy Turvy January 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I agree! Brown is a wonderful color in interiors. I esp. love that rug co. room… Wish I had that kind of architecture to work with! Lana

  • Reply Diana Evans January 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    great post….I painted my den which is also my studio in a deep velvet brown and I love it….it is so warm and cozy and I get so much work done…


  • Reply Melanie January 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Why am I suddenly craving an espresso with a side of dark chocolate? Thank you for always putting together the most beautiful and inspiring photo collections. The brown and purple is particularly tasty!

  • Reply Kristin January 29, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Holly – I love brown too! All the different hues. What great pics from Living Etc… fabulous! Great blog… thanks for all the hardwork, it really is a treat to see what you’re posting about.

  • Reply RowHouse January 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Really terrific post. I love that Domestic Bazaar sign in the 3rd photo.

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