How to decorate with brown

Warm and inviting, rich and enveloping are words associated with a classic winter scheme and no colour meets the brief more perfectly than brown.  Solid and reliable, conservative and yet sometimes perceived as boring, brown is without doubt a colour that would be greatly missed by interior decorators who appreciate its broad value and appeal.  Let me show you how to decorate with brown.

How to decorate with brown

The beauty with the colour is that although it is perceived as a winter colour, it really can be used all year round, particularly as a background neutral choice.

How to style with brown
Image – Dulux Australia

An alternative to black or navy

Brown is a great masculine colour that is an alternative to black or navy and often seen as a softer version of these two definite colours.  Rarely is brown thought of as a favourite colour, however few people reject it outright and many rely on it considerably in their decorating palettes.

Brown is one of the most natural of colours, associated with the earth, it is represented in the wide range of natural timbers which are loved by many and bring warmth and richness to any palette.

How to style with the colour brown
Image – Ralph Lauren

How to decorate with Brown in interiors

Smooth coffee tones have been in vogue recently, however the trend is now moving away towards darker, bitter chocolate browns which are now popular.  These deep, almost black browns produce a dramatic scheme when partnered with off whites.  They also work well laid over a softer coffee tone, for example furniture in a darker brown/black against a coffee coloured wall is particularly effective.

Dulux recently released some new brown colours.  Two of my favourites are Dulux Leather Boots and Dulux Country Hideaway.  These are very sophisticated deep, dark bitter chocolate browns that are great for interiors and are particularly good for exterior projects.

How to decorate with brown
Image: Dulux

Haymes Burnt Brown with their Blanched Taupe is a great combination.  Used with Haymes Solace, you have a gorgeous layer of luscious browns.

I must say that leafing through these warm tones is quite a relief after the rush of grey we have seen recently.  I love greys but I do believe that decorating with brown is a good alternative to consider.

Related: Manipulating a space with colour – colour lesson 5

Autumn Colour palettes


A fabulous earthy colour palette is one with a range of browns from bitter chocolate through to a softer, lighter version with warm whites and natural greens.

When used with warm whites, this creates a broad palette that provides an opportunity for great tonal contrast and is a good option for those people who shy away from the black and white trend in decorating.  Ensure that you use the right white though – this article can help you: Related: 5 mistakes to avoid when selecting white

Consider the Finish when decorating with brown

The downside with brown paint is that it can sometimes appear quite flat and should therefore always be teamed with an off white to give the palette a lift.  It is a good idea when choosing this colour to use paint with a special finish.  You will find that the subtle texture that this provides works well and brings another element to the scheme.

How to use brown in interiors

How to style with brown
Image –

Classic Partners for decorating with brown

As brown is such an earthy natural colour, it is at its best when partnered with other natural accessories.  A tan or brown natural leather sofa springs to mind with wool or other natural fibre carpets and rugs.  Natural hemp and sisal are excellent choices as these also bring a natural complement to a brown painted wall.

Related: How to select the right rug

In terms of colour, the classic one is orange, even if you just style with some orange toned foliage, the effect can be stunning.

How to use brown in decorating

Related: How to use sociable orange

Wallpapers in brown tones

As with special paint finishes, wallpapers in brown tones work well as the texture prevents the look from being too flat.  Look for natural woven wallpapers in these rich tones.

How to use brown in interiors
Homes to Love

How to decorate with brown

So if you are looking for a natural, warming, masculine hue and want a soft version of the blacks and greys that are so in fashion, you can’t look past earthy brown.  Let me know what you think in the comments section and whether you have a particular favourite.  I hope to hear from you as I would love your feedback so that I can help with your decorating dilemmas.

If you feel you get overwhelmed with making colour and decorating choices then you should download my free e-book on how to create a mood board.  This, amongst other invaluable checklists and e-books can be found in my free resource library.  You can get access to this here.

Follow me on Pinterest for lots more decorating inspiration – if you are a fan of decorating with brown I have a whole board of ideas to show you.


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