December 2, 2022

If you’re craving comfort and warmth—and who isn’t these days?—pile on the brown. It’s like a high-style hug for your home.

There’s a special excitement in finding new virtues and accolades for brown, a color that has always enjoyed a permanent seat at the decorating table. With its spectrum ranging from caramel to mocha, camel to cognac, brown is the color of nature and the comfort and warmth associated with it. For those who crave these reassuring qualities for their homes—which nowadays is everyone—it’s no surprise that brown is currently a top pick from the color deck. 

Beige-colored walls create a soothing backdrop for an abstract painting washed in tones of gray and earthy browns. | Photo by Lucy Call

Brown’s capacity to nourish a space is well-noted by designers and decorators. “Brown is warm and inviting,” says Rion Locke. “It’s definitely a comfort color.” Locke and Richard Miller, principals of LMK Interior Design, use the earthy color to enrich and elevate many of the interiors they create. “Brown is a timeless choice that looks great with practically anything and everything,” Miller explains. 

“Start with pillows, art and accessories if you want an easy way to introduce brown into a space,” Miller suggests. “But disperse the color throughout the room to tie it all together.” | Photo by Lucy Call

Versatility, in fact, is key to brown’s appeal. The varied wood tones of oak floors, walnut cabinetry and cedar ceilings, for example, can create a uniquely rich-yet-reserved backdrop for a décor. “Brown performs beautifully as a neutral, just as it does in nature,” Miller explains. And just as they do in nature, the color’s countless shades and hues complement each other in combination. In fact, Locke and Miller often layer furnishings, fixtures and finishes in a range of brown tones upon a canvas of wood surfaces to ground a space while moving the eye throughout it. The resulting contrast—at times subtly monochromatic and at others strikingly tone-on-tone—“creates a rhythm” that elevates the look and feel of the rooms, Locke explains. 

Horizontal stripes come to life with subtly toned brown tilework in a Park City home’s handsome shower. | Photo by Lucy Call

Brown also plays well with nearly all other colors. It fosters a calming, organic vibe when paired with today’s favored hues including sage greens, rosy terracottas, moody mauves and luscious creams. For a chic, cooler palette, Miller suggests teaming brown with blue or gray. Even energized oranges and golds can create an impact, but be mindful of the patterns you choose, Locke warns. “Unless you’re creating a retro look, avoid the big florals and oversized geometrics of the ‘70s.” Miller offers other advice for keeping it fresh and new. “Create contrast and don’t go too dark with brown. Otherwise, the look can be heavy and dated.”

White sinks and stone gleam against a backdrop of walnut cabinetry and biscuit-toned walls. | Photo by Lucy Call

Because most of us have natural woods inside our homes—flooring, furnishings and cabinetry—brown hardly seems as novel and noteworthy as many of today’s flashier colors splashed throughout Pinterest and Instagram. And that’s part of brown’s appeal. It may be on trend, but “brown is definitely not trendy,” Locke insists. More akin to black, brown is a sophisticated and a timeless choice. But while black can feel cold and aloof, brown is warm and welcoming. Given these challenging times, is it any wonder why we love brown, now more than ever? 

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Learn more at lmkinteriordesign.com