Bold, Beautiful, Brown

The color brown may seem like a terribly boring color.  You may see it as flat or lifeless or just drab.  And through history, others have had the same sentiment as you.  However, when you think of brown, try to think of warm log cabins, cinnamon sticks swirling in apple cider, cozy velvet cushions on a crisp linen sofa.  Think of cool soil on a warm summer day while you're in the garden, the beautiful roughness of a tree trunk to lean against in your favorite park, the color of the much-needed coffee in the morning, chocolate.

In design, particularly in the prairies, we have seen soft, muted browns and tans come back strong in our interiors.  The call for wood, on our flooring, cabinetry and furnishings, has been answered ten-fold.  Builders often use a light brown color on the walls to add warmth to the home while keeping the palette neutral for you to build your style against.

What we are seeing now is deeper, richer browns coming to light.  Chocolate browns are invading our homes like mosquitoes to a picnic.  Velvety browns are showing up in our furniture and in our drapery adding the richness of a foregone era.  And soft browns remain, lending themselves as a base color for those not yet daring enough to break out of the box but wanting a warm, cozy home.

Still not totally convinced on brown?  Take note that the world's largest diamond, the Golden Jubilee Diamond, is actually brown and that most naturally occurring diamonds are brown.  Well if nature would put brown in it's most dazzling stone, why wouldn't we take a cue and explore the color into our homes?

  Golden Jubilee Diamond  at 545.67 carats is the largest faceted diamond in the world, valued between $4-$12 million.

Golden Jubilee Diamond at 545.67 carats is the largest faceted diamond in the world, valued between $4-$12 million.

In Practice...

  Houzz  - Shelley Kirsch Interior Design & Decoration - Toronto

Houzz - Shelley Kirsch Interior Design & Decoration - Toronto

In this bedroom, the designer used Benjamin Moore's Brown Sugar on the walls to create a warm space to relax and to help keep the room from feeling too large.  Brown accents on the bottom of the drapery as well as on the bedding and the wood of the furnishings help make the room muted but comfortable.

  Houzz  - Charles Cunniffe Architects Aspen - United States

Houzz - Charles Cunniffe Architects Aspen - United States

Cream and brown make a beautiful pair, keeping the darker hue from being too serious but lending a grounding effect to the cream.  Plus, using a mix of materials on this sectional adds a fabulous design detail that pleases both the eye and the hand when moving through the room and sitting on the furniture.  Added elements of the dark wall at the bar, the deep wood coffee table and the textured rug paired against the lightness of the ledgerstone and fireplace make this room a great place for entertaining.

  Houzz  - Goodfellas Construction - Los Angeles

Houzz - Goodfellas Construction - Los Angeles

While we see lots of bright, airy bathrooms, don't you want to just tuck into the tub here with a glass of wine and your favorite music floating from the speaker above you?  Tiles come in all colors, sizes and textures these days so if you are considering material options for your room, take a look at tile.  Often they can be installed on the vertical as in this bathroom and they give an instant high-end look when done so.

  Houzz  - Pampa Tiles USA - Dallas

Houzz - Pampa Tiles USA - Dallas

I love love LOVE this media room!  It's warm, it's cozy, it's fresh, it's uplifting and it's FUN!  Here is a great example of how you can combine a bright color such as turquoise with a muted color such as brown.  Take note of the texture changes in place on all surfaces including the walls and the furnishings, as well as the unconventional lighting elements.

  Dutch Touch Interiors  - Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dutch Touch Interiors - Winnipeg, Manitoba

In our own portfolio, we have used browns in a variety of ways also.  Case in point, we installed this gorgeous patterned wallpaper to add some glam, the client purchased a softly patterned bedroom set and we used both original and new wood furniture to tie the whole look off.  One of my favorite details about this room is the little fur cushion on the chair.  The client was thinking of getting rid of it but doesn't it look awesome in here?

Get Inspired...

Left to right, top to bottom:  Inukshuk #CC-460 - Benjamin Moore; French Castle #770A-3 - Behr; Ranchwood #CC-500 - Benjamin Moore; Driftwood #2107-40 - Benjamin Moore; Whitall Brown #HC-69 - Benjamin Moore; Chocolate Sparkle #770B-7 - Behr; Old Violin #RL1282 - Ralph Lauren; Edwardian Burgundy #RL1286 - Ralph Lauren.

When it comes to brown there is a myriad of options.  Inukshuk, the very first color, is one I have used often in homes as a base to go forward from.  However, it is incredibly important to consider the light conditions in your home before choosing a shade of brown and be careful to watch for the color bases coming through.  Behr's browns tend to be rather on the pink side so if you'd rather not have that, perhaps go with a Benjamin Moore color.

Let me leave you with a thought from designer Michael Berman, "When brown is really saturated it's like a blanket of velvet that wraps the walls..." (Lisa Cregan's 'House Beautiful Color').  Doesn't that sound cozy?

Amy van MeijlComment