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The Unsinkable Color Brown

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.

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.

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

Soft and cozy via: LivingEtc.

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.

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.


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.

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…

Think Martha Stewart brown and the baby blue craze via Domino magazine.

via GV Interiors.

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

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

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

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.

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

via: LivingEtc.

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.

via: West Elm.


via: Domino magazine.


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.)

Posted by decor8 in Color Inspiration, Decorating Tips, guest bloggers on January 28, 2008

Your comments...

  1. kimmithylaine commented
    January 28th, 2008 at 10:42pm

    I just love the color BROWN! Beautiful stuff here!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. Shabbyfufu commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 12:50am

    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~

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. jen commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 2:42am

    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…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. design snitch commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 4:26am

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

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  5. Lynne Rutter commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 7:02am

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

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  6. Petra :-) commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 9:09am

    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 ;-)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  7. Topsy Turvy commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 11:54am

    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

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  8. Diana Evans commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 4:21pm

    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…

    Cheers,
    Diana

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  9. Melanie commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 4:34pm

    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!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  10. Kristin commented
    January 29th, 2008 at 10:07pm

    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.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  11. RowHouse commented
    January 31st, 2008 at 2:56pm

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

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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