Brown Is The New Neutral
Love it or hate it, brown is making its way back into interiors as a warmer alternative to the grey tones that have dominated our homes for the last few years.
From earthy to practical (and even touching on the controversial Suede Effect paint of the 90s!), I give the lowdown on how to incorporate this somewhat polarising colour choice in your space, as your new neutral.
Brown. We’ve take you for granted. We’re sorry, but we’re glad to see you again.
You’re the colour of the earth; where we get our food. You’re coffee, chocolate, wood, leather, and puppies. Maybe we’ve said in the past that you’re our least favorite colour because well… there are some unpleasant brown things. But let’s forget about that now!
We’ve been captivated with shades of grey in our homes for a while now – from cool light greys on the walls paired with a grey marle sofa and grey concrete floors. Those Scandinavians sure know how to create gorgeous Pinterest-worthy images of chic spaces, featuring a lot of black, white and grey, so we totally jumped on board. Now we’ve lived with grey for a while and well, it doesn’t have all the feels we want in our home. Grey can be cold, drab and it can sometimes feel a bit depressing. Even a blush pink cushion isn’t lifting the mood. We thought that we wanted all grey everything, however, colour affects our mood without us even knowing. There are some colours we just feel better being around.
The very idea of ‘colour trends’ is divisive however I would argue that they are unavoidable. As much as there are trends in food, music and fashion: interiors are not immune. What we’re seeing now is a move away from cool grey and into the warmer brown tones as our new neutral. This is partly thanks to the trend for seventies furniture and interiors we’re experiencing right now, with brown a major trend in that decade!
People are craving more warmth in their homes, so we’re starting to welcome back brown in its many shades and tones. Sepia tones take on a nostalgic quality. Khaki is practical. Cognac is luxurious, and sienna is earthy.
Of course, we never experience one colour in isolation, it’s about how you integrate it into a wider scheme. When it comes to brown, stay close to other natural colours and avoid primary saturated colours. Brown is a very easy neutral to live with and works so well with some other favorites such as peach, terracotta, amber, mustard and through to greens. Use brown with black and you’ll create a rich luxurious mood, whereas brown with white looks contemporary and fresh.
There’s no need to be afraid of brown! Read on for some great examples on how to incorporate it into your home, as your new neutral.
On The Walls
Brown isn’t the easiest colour to use as paint on walls. This is where texture is the key – Italian-style decorative plaster effects are having a moment right now. For a more DIY take, dare I suggest the Suede Effect that was so popular in the 90s!? Get out your rollers, brushes and wipers, and go for shades of beige, mushroom, parchment or ochre. The lighter beiges are a beautiful warm base to layer on more neutral furnishings.
On The Furniture
Your brown leather sofa is like your cool, laidback Chris Hemsworth, compared to your sleazy shiny black leather Ron Burgundy sofa. You know what I mean?
Rich earthy shades of brown through to cognac and tan leathers are always a good idea for sofas. Look for slouchy, matte, soft leather, which will age beautifully, rather than tightly upholstered and shiny.
Brown is the natural colour of many materials used in our homes. Nothing creates warmth and atmosphere in a space more than timber paneling on the walls and ceiling.
Rebecca of Lëyer has used a grey washed Western red cedar for the ceiling and walls in their timber cabin by the beach, whereas Mim Design has used a dark stained timber veneer joinery and brown marble in the MLB Residence to create a luxurious yet warm interior.
Have I convinced you that brown is a colour that is really easy to live with yet? It feels warm and atmospheric, and is endlessly versatile – from rustic all the way through to luxurious.
This article also appears in The Designfiles, Lauren is the interior design contributor.