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Emily Henderson

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by Laurren Welch
Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 19

Hi, everyone. It’s me, Laurren, here again to talk color. More specifically, brown. A few weeks ago, when we first met and I brought you this post about fun color combos, we didn’t once discuss brown. I’m going to right that wrong today by devoting a whole post to the hue because… IT’S BAAAAAAACK!

Well, maybe it’s not fully back, but its bags are packed and it’s headed this way.

If you’re thinking “But Laurren! Brown has been back for a while as evidenced here and here and here and here…” You’re not wrong! Things have warmed up over the years. We’ve seen a shift from painted furniture and cooler color palettes to spaces that include blonde-toned woods and earthy textiles and paint choices.

But I’m not talking the golden-hued teak credenzas or camel-colored leather sofas of recent years. (That’s all still great though.) I’m talking brown brown…deeper, darker, richer hues, from terra cotta and mahogany to walnut and chocolate and everything in between.

If you never thought this day would come, where we’re taking a deep dive into brown and, dare I say, actually kind of crushing on it all…I didn’t either, despite knowing that in the world of design—both in interiors and fashion—things are constantly cycling, with most trends emerging as a counter-reaction to another. Sure, brown is always around in some capacity. Furniture is, after all, most often made of wood, lol, but shades and tones and the way and quantity in which it’s used certainly fluctuates. I mean, literally everything can come in brown—furniture, floors, walls, upholstery, textiles, cabinetry—and in the ‘70s, everything kinda did.

Things were generally pretty drab before the 1950s. Not devoid of color completely, but it was expensive to dye textiles and plastics had yet to be invented, so things took a VERY colorful turn in the ‘50s and ‘60s as new materials emerged. In the ‘70s, folks were like NO THANK YOU and the motto became “wood panel it all!” The retina-scarring ‘80s ushered in the ‘90s country kitchen shortly followed by the all-Tuscan-everything that shook the early 2000s (SO.MUCH.BEIGE). We’re still recovering from that last one. For a good decade, painted furniture and the all-white kitchen/bathroom/everything have dominated homes and Pinterest boards around the world, so it seems only natural that a big shift is on the horizon.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 22
image source

How do we know it’s happening? We’ve seen some retailers like CB2 beginning to carry darker wood pieces, but fashion is generally the best indicator of what’s on the agenda decor-wise since trends often trickle down from there. And lately, fashion has been all about brown…

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Fashion Grid
image sources, top row: left | middle | right. image source, bottom row: left | middle | right

As you can see in these images from recent fashion weeks, tone-on-tone is definitely a thing and you’ll never go wrong pairing brown with red, but it’s that brown/teal/red combo at bottom left that really has my heart going pitter patter.

You didn’t come for the fashion, though, so let’s move along. Furniture seems like a logical place to start…

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 6
image source | design by alison davin

In the above image, mismatched pieces in varying wood tones pair with woven accents to create a rustic-boho space that feels decidedly different from the wood-heavy minimalist vibe currently dominating Instagram.  (You know the look: matching light wood furniture, sunset hues, ceramics galore.) Not that we don’t appreciate those spaces—we do—but, there is something about exclusively outfitting a room with pieces in a singular tone, material or style that, no matter how carefully chosen, can feel a little “done-in-a-day,” if ya know what I mean. The dining space above might not garner all the internet “likes,” but its sophisticated, collected-over-time feel will definitely help it hold up in the long haul.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 15
image source | design by katie de stefano

From the walls to the furniture to the textiles, the chic bedroom pictured above, in all its dark, chocolate-y glory, is a glaring style contrast to the more casual dining space discussed at top. It can be hard to get away with SO MUCH of the same hue, but it works here in large part thanks to the visual counter courtesy of that white upholstered headboard. (Imagine, for a moment, if the whole bedframe was iron? Very different story.) The wood finish on that French nightstand is very similar to the grasscloth-clad walls but that sliver of white from the table’s marble top is what keeps the piece from getting lost in the shuffle. It’s the little things in design, you guys.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 13
image source | design by barlow and barlow

If you worry about darker wood furnishings—particularly antiques—feeling stuffy or visually heavy, consider repurposing a piece in an unexpected way. Set against glossy tiles and topped with a bubbly vessel sink, the strong and stately console-table-turned-vanity pictured above tones down the playfulness of the room’s chipper pink-and-green palette.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 10
image source | design by mandy reeves

If you’d prefer to dip your toes back into brown rather than dive head first, take a cue from the bathroom above: there are a lot of pretty things happening here (That pendant light! That claw-foot tub!) but, upon first glance, your eyes instantly land on that beautiful mahogany china cabinet, am I right or am I right? That’s thanks to the space’s all-white color palette—it provides the breathing room needed for that beautiful antique to become the strong focal point it was always meant to be. (FYI the wall paint is Montgomery White by Benjamin Moore.) I think it’s also important to note that, though an unconventional choice for a bathroom, that Turkish rug goes a long way toward making this whole thing work. (The cabinet is pretty big and could feel a little jarring as the room’s only flash of warmth.)

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 14
image source | design by norm architects

It’s not all about wood pieces, though. Here, a not-quite-terra-cotta sofa teams up with cooler shades of gray to warm up this stunningly stark office space designed by Danish studio Norm Architects for Kinfolk magazine. It’s a surprisingly versatile brown—lighter and redder in shade—and would lend itself to a range of design styles. We particularly love how well it plays with the thread of royal blue found in the two (very different) rooms pictured below.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 4
image source | design by studio esteta
Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 11
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Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 19
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With the popularity of all-white interiors came, perhaps, the most asked and agonized over question in all of design: should you paint original wood-toned trim/moldings/doors? We get why the thought ruffles feathers, but we also get why someone would want to do it. (Sometimes you just don’t want that much contrast between trim and walls okay?!) If that last sentence made you say to yourself “who let this lady in here??!!!” then you’ll be happy to know times may be a changin’, as we’re seeing more and more folks embracing original finishes and sometimes even choosing to install wood-toned trim where it once wasn’t. And we’ve gotta say: it’s pretty darn dreamy.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 20
image source | design by case design

Here’s an example in a more minimal design scenario. A big part of why this works is that there is no molding where the wall meets the ceiling to detract from the sleek aesthetic and the gray plaster walls balance all the warmth with a hit of cool.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 17
image source | design by peter benson miller

Moving on to the topic of flooring, I don’t know that brown patterned floors are a thing, but this space—well, actually this entire home—is so, so beautiful I couldn’t not include it. So let’s just call it…brown patterned floors…they’re happening…ish.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 9
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What makes the room pictured above different from all-wood spaces of years past—outside of the fact that it’s, you know, actual wood—is the shift in pattern between the flooring and wall molding and the fact that the wood doesn’t lean particularly warm or cool in tone. A palette of three very “now” hues—terra cotta, blush, and lilac—help to soften the serious, minimally furnished space and the white ceiling lifts everything.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 7
image source | design by int2 architecture

The kitchen above takes the wood treatment allllllll the way up to the celling—and man is it good. Again, this is in large part thanks to the change up in pattern—it just wouldn’t feel as special or as current without the herringbone design wedged in the middle to break things up. Plus, this is likely real wood (even if just veneer), unlike the faux wood paneling of decades past. Clean, modern finishes in pastel-y hues provide the contrast needed to keep things from going in a more rustic direction.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 21
image source | design by park & oak

For your noncommittal folks, the kitchen above is a stunning example of how to tiptoe into the wood wall treatment. (Doesn’t it feel like whatever goes on those shelves just instantly becomes EXTRA special?)

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 16
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Of course, we’d be remiss to talk color without talking paint. Here, deep brown walls with an almost chalky finish amp up the drama of simple bedding and furnishings.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 18
image source | design by charles rutherfoord

While the furnishings in the dining space pictured above aren’t something the EHD team typically gravitates toward, the lighter, more cocoa-toned wall color is no doubt very enticing and could definitely translate to a variety of design styles. (The paint is Vicalvi’s Havane in a matte finish, which might be hard to get in the States. Maybe try something like Log Cabin by Benjamin Moore.)

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 2
image source | design by ferm living

Here in the living room of “The Home,” the Copenhagen show apartment of the Danish Brand Ferm Living, moody blue-gray walls are topped with a is-it-brown-or-is-it-burgundy? celling. It’s a bold, beautiful treatment best suited for larger spaces. (Though it could feel super cozy in a smaller bedroom.) The blue and gray furniture really perfects the room’s color palette.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 12
image source | design by dimore studio

Shades of brown + green + steely blue-grey with a hint of pink—I guess I’ll have to file this color combo under missed opportunities, as evidenced by the two-toned space pictured above. It’s both cozy and dynamic.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 5
image source | design by jdp interiors

We can’t forget about wallpaper. A busy brown print like the one pictured above might be a little much in a larger space, but in a powder room, it feels just right. We’re on board with the neutral palette used here but also wouldn’t hate to see how a bolder pop of color would pair with the print.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 3
image source | design by kelly wearstler

The color of this abstract graphic wallpaper—it’s Graffito by Kelly Wearstler—is called “salmon” but definitely feels like more of a light cocoa in this photo, so let’s just go with that, okay? The use of color, texture and pattern makes the room feel delightfully rich and layered.

Emily Henderson Brown Color Trend Interior 8
image source | design by edward bulmer

Because I don’t know where to fold in a discussion about this brown wood-topped bathtub, I’m just going to leave it here as a parting gift to you. : )

Almost 2,000 words later…whew. We made it. Thanks for hanging in there. Are you convinced yet? A brown convert? I just realized I didn’t really touch on cabinetry, but you gotta stop somewhere.

Tell me your feelings—do you think brown is back? Do you think it never really went away? Do you have horror stories of brown rooms past? Spill it because while tons of these rooms sell brown hard, we know it works in very specific instances, and all of you aren’t currently running out right now to brown up your spaces.

  1. Liked seeing all the photos – love it when there is lots to look at, and even liked a couple. But honestly, I even removed brown from my wardrobe to simplify (#capsulewardrobe), so I reallllly don’t want to add it (back) to my home. It’s not flattering to me – feels heavy and reminds me of barns and mud. Nonetheless, really enjoyed this article and the writing – it had the perfect tone.

  2. yuck. i will never be on board with the chocolate brown walls trend. i lived with our bedroom with chocolate brown walls for 9 years and it was horrid. we didn’t paint over them when we bought the house (first house i ever owned – lesson learned – paint the walls before you move in or it won’t happen for years) and my husband just kept saying he liked it, but i’m pretty sure he just didn’t feel like painting the walls once we were all moved in. it was like a cave all the time. and yes, even with white bedding for contrast, it was a cave. once i painted it light pink for my daughter (we ended up giving her the room), it was so light and bright in there. that old paint color just sucked all the light from the room.
    i can get on board with the new beiges and oatmeals, but not these dark browns.

  3. Darker woods- yes, I can see that.
    Brown furniture- Eh, mayyybe
    Brown walls- hard stop. No. Not again.

    1. ☝🏻

    2. Same opinion. 🙂 Brown in natural textures/tones – wood, pottery, baskets, leather, that kind of thing: sure, partially because the texture makes it.

      Brown walls… I mean. Oatmeal or beige, in some lights, maaaaybe? With the right decorator? Otherwise, hi 1970s, welcome around again! Pls bring your protest posters, k?

      1. What Aimee, Janice, and Ros said! When I used to do home staging, brown walls were the worst: despite loading up on white and mirrors and a touch of color/metallic decor to lighten up the room, those rooms never truly managed to look warm and inviting. Never.

    3. honestly, I was on the same page as this, but then I saw all these photos and was really into the brown. I’m not sure I’m ready to go paint brown all over my apartment (nor do I have the right apartment to go brown) but yeah…still on the fence.

      1. What’s that thing in fashion? If you were old enough to wear it the first time around you’re too old to wear it the second time it comes back into fashion. Well I was old enough to have an apartment when Brown was hot. I’m certainly too old to decorate with brown again, sorry.

  4. My mother taught us that brown isn’t flattering to our complexions so I eliminate them as decor options, too. But I can see how others might enjoy them.

    1. Wow. I wear dark brown hair right next to my face every day. I do hope it’s nit unflattering to my complexion.

  5. Very enlightening article. I am not a brown fan; however, I just recently added a mocha-colored carpet on my stairs to coordinate with area rugs that have muted blue, ivory and slight touches of the mocha. Aha
    That being said, what do you think will happen with all the brown kitchen cabinets from the 2000’s trend?

    1. i have the brown cabinets from that trend, put in by the previous owner. the wood is nice. i can do brown wood furniture, but that is it. But, about those kitchens from that period, i have that cherry/dark brown wood cabinet and black granite counters and “tuscan”-look yellow-y kind of ceramic tile. it’s horrid. but i’ve lived with it for 11 years. trying to find a way to make it less horrid.

  6. Love this articel. I’m on board with the brown trend, especially the dark brown wood furniture and accents!

    1. Love it on furniture and accents, too! deep rich wood tones…I used to think it was stuffy and “old” but in the right room, it’s SO great.

  7. I became a brown fan (although no brown walls) when I balanced the room out with grays and white and creams. It became so calming to me and more modern not sooo ’70’s.

  8. Thanks for this! I love a chocolate brown sweater, a camel coat, etc….so why not in my home? I think the problem–as I’ve experienced with both homes I’ve owned–is that brown often wasn’t used thoughtfully in the past. It was just put everywhere, with little thought as to where it worked and where it didn’t. Our current house is ALL brown, and while I’m eager to change some of it (the old, ugly brown carpet), there are some places where I have to admit the brown works and complements other features. I think there was just a period of time when the brown was overkill, and now it’s gotten a bad reputation. It’s all about the balance! I’ve also gotten tired of seeing all grey and white, and it’s nice to see some warmth pulled back into design. Pretty examples!

    1. ahh yes I agree!!

  9. I really adored most of these reference photos in the piece, so clearly I am on board for this trend. I would never paint it on walls, but wood, statement pieces, terra cotta-leaning hues? Two thumbs up!

  10. Maybe it’s because I remember the 70s, but I’m just. not. ready. But give me a year of seeing it and I’ll probably come around. Great post. Going to run screaming for the hills now.

    1. Ha! Fair enough 🙂

  11. I have always loved dark trim, but I definitely don’t think it’s the popular choice. Jessica Helgerson remodeled a sw hills Victorian Portland house in all dark wood paneling (I viewed in person and was VERY dark inside) and that house sat on market for months and months and months till owner finally pulled off the market. It was a beautiful home, and I bet if she did in white it would have sold. Just saying, it’s definitely not for everyone.

  12. Great post! Love the darker wood coming back, as we have lots of darker wood antiques/vintage in our family, and I’d love to see how I can make better use of them. The brown walls and non-wood furniture are a harder sell. Love it in the inspiration photos, but it’s something that has to be done REALLY well. I think I’ll leave it to the professionals.

  13. I love browns — my whole house is neutrals, mostly off-white and wood tones with caramel and terra-cotta. Then again, the house was built in the 70s and I feel like it works best here.

  14. NOOOOOO! These rooms are beautiful, but I cannot got on board with brown in my home or wardrobe. I love these posts though because they do try to get you to think out of your comfort zone.

    1. Yes! Sometimes, you need to see something totally out of left field to shake up your brain.

  15. Darker browns in furniture? I’m on board (depending on the piece). But in wall and ceiling paint? Not for me. All of these rooms look good. I just wouldn’t want any of these paint colors in my own home. They feel depressing to me.

    I wish designers and stylists would decide that my antique oak China cabinet was suddenly hip. 😉

  16. Does anyone know where that octagonal pendant light in the bathroom photo is from? We just bought a house with two of the exact same lights! We’re obsessed with them, but we don’t know anything about them or where they came from. Help!

      1. Thanks so much!!

  17. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 🙂 Although I’m getting on board with introducing more leathers, woods, etc. to warm things up, I’m scarred from the late 90’s/early 2000s brown craze and have been chipping away and ridding it from our home (previous owners really LOVED brown) so I can’t get on board. I’m talking iridescent brown mosaic tile in our bathroom, multiple “dirty diaper brown” painted rooms in our home, cherrywood cabinets and even tan trim around the windows and walls (plus almond color window casings…..what???). Ironically, my bridesmaid dresses were espresso brown, but again this was early 2000 and if i was getting married today, it would be navy 🙂 To each his own for sure and skilled designers like the EDH team can make brown work I’m sure, but it’s a hard pass on this trend for me in my home right now. Still, a great article!!

  18. I love the baskets and the darker wood… but some of these pictures are not current. For example, the tile is in an older Roman house – how do we know it was just put in… many of the wall pics are at least a couple of years old, so not something that is happening right now too…..Wondering how it’s a new trend?

  19. I cautiously like a dose of brown in a room but I’m with those who are like NOOOO for painting brown anywhere. I can’t handle that again. Now my darker wooden furniture in my light filled, pale painted house works great! (my floors are mid brown hickory btw). It’s not too heavy and adds a collected layered look. My favorite photo here was the dining room with woven things on the walls – overall the worn antiques vibe reminded me of that modern monastery series which I really liked.

  20. Brown is my FAVORITE color of all time – soothing to the eye and it always grounds a room. I’ve been transitioning our Tuscan Brown extravaganza to a more modern aesthetic without ditching my brown. So happy to see others embracing it!

  21. I’m a little confused by the author’s assertion that home decor was “pretty drab” before the 1950s (in terms of color). I understand that it has become cheaper and easier to get interior decor and furniture since that point. But interior decor had been full of color prior to that. Upper classes could afford the richly dyed fabrics and ornately crafted furniture, but lower classes also used colors in their more humble interiors, with brightly colored quilts and painted floor coverings. I’m often surprised by the vivid colors I discover on historical pieces and works of art. I just started ” The Secret Lives of Color”, by Kassia St Clair, and it is fascinating.

    1. Also, the paint colors in historical houses faded over time, so people began to think that the muted, faded colors were what were used originally. They were not. They removated some rooms at George Washington’s Mount Vernon home fairly recently, and the actual original colors were startingly bright. Almost neon!

      As you say, though, dyes were very expensive, so only the wealthy could afford them.

  22. Sorry, I’m going to be that history nerd 😁 I’m a little confused by the author’s assertion that home decor was “pretty drab” before the 1950s (in terms of color). I understand that it has become cheaper and easier to get interior decor and furniture since that point. But interior decor had been full of color prior to that. Upper classes could afford the richly dyed fabrics and ornately crafted furniture, but lower classes also used colors in their more humble interiors, with brightly colored quilts and painted floor coverings. I’m often surprised by the vivid colors I discover on historical pieces and works of art. I just started ” The Secret Lives of Color”, by Kassia St Clair, and it is fascinating.

    1. I’ve been reading that book too and it’s fascinating!

  23. Perfect timing as I just picked up brown paint chips. We are consider painting the lower cabinets of our all-white kitchen … both to offer some contrast and because the all-white kitchen feels like it is getting a bit tired and overdone. With an off-white granite counter that has splotches of moody browns among the pattern, we think this might tie things together nicely. And now I know we may be on trend for once lol.

    1. We just planned our kitchen remodel with walnut bases and white uppers! Do it! It’ll be a great contrast. Warms up the room.

  24. Brown is my favorite color 🙂 not sure how I feel about it as a ‘trend’ but I wouldn’t mind a bit more in my home and closet…

  25. We live in a log cabin with wood walls, ceilings and floors, and I love it!! It’s cozy, beautiful and warm. We are lucky in that we get lots of natural light (not always the case with cabins), so that helps. Plus, our furniture and rugs are blues and greens for the most part. I’ve always liked brown in my wardrobe too, so I’m happy to see lots of brown options.

    1. Oooh your cabin sounds lovely 🙂

    2. Log cabin dweller over here too! I love our wall color (natural aged cedar). Some of our rooms are darker, some brighter, but I never miss having drywall. I’ve had people suggest painting the interior white to lighten it up, and I just look at them in horror.

  26. My favorite, favorite, favorite room is the bathroom with the clawfoot tub and the mahogany cabinet! Next fave is the sitting room with the baskets on the wall. It occurs to me that both rooms have white walls. I love dark furniture and dark cabinets but I guess I love them most when they’re set off by a light background.

    I don’t think brown ever went away…it’s just a color that’s being presented in a different way, now.
    P.S. I love that beaded curtain! I wish I had a doorway to put one…but I don’t. Oh well…

    1. agreed on the white. I think it makes SUCH a big difference in making the brown feel fresh yet inviting.

      1. I think it’s important to see the furniture pieces against the white walls first. I had a friend who wanted the starkest of white walls — absolutely no pigment at all. And she had a few inherited mahogany antique furniture pieces. They looked like dark blobs against the white the contrast was so stark.

        I think if you have dark furniture some color helps to avoid that abrupt transition. You can also see the details so much better.

  27. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. To me, brown is a tired color.

  28. I love the return of brown. We’ve always leaned heavily towards wood antique furniture, wood floors mixing in with modern pieces. I think it brings a warmth and sometimes quirkiness to the space. Thanks for a great post!

    1. ooh yes. I love me some good wood antique furniture!

  29. Oh No! Please don’t tell my husband. He thinks everything should be brown, that brown is the answer to all problems. Delete. Delete.

    1. well…nowhere in this point was there a photo of a brown leather recliner in a room with brown walls and trim with brown tiles and brown curtains…HAHAHA. it’s like…make it brown but CHIC. not basic and pulled from a property touring shot from House Hunters!

  30. Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed I’m a “brown” person, but I pinned more than half of these. I felt a response to a lot of these pictures that I don’t have when I’m looking at a lot of grey rooms. I skim by them really fast — they don’t resonate at all.

    So nice to see some warmth coming back to interiors after all the cold, empty spaces that have been all over for the last ten years.

  31. When my husband and I were house hunting last year, one of my requirements was no dark wood moulding (often seen in old Minneapolis houses). We ended up buying a 1917 craftsman with alllll of the dark moulding and built-ins because it checked the rest of our boxes. I intended on painting it all white but over the past 6 months it has really grown on me! The key is to mix in modern pieces to keep it from feeling too antiquey. We may paint it one day but am really digging it for now. It makes our home so unique and interesting!

    1. great point!

    2. that sounds beautiful! please don’t paint it the wood! just paint the walls! and yes, totally agree on the modern furnishings to make it feel modern!

  32. I hope it is back!! So tired of everything being gray.

    1. I think it is. But I also think if we’re tired of gray, we should just do whatever we want! Trends are fun to talk about and explore, and they give us new ideas and perspectives, but ultimately, do what you want at home!

  33. Ahhhhhh yesssss!!! I am all about that dark wood trim, especially on the windows with lighter walls and have been drooling over the two bathroom pics ever since I ran across them a couple months ago online during bathroom redecorating research. My husband even knows about my wood trim obsession because whenever I see a room/house that has it in a movie I always have to comment on how much I love it. It looks so classic and warm at the same time. LOVE IT

  34. Yes! Gray had a good long run, but I’m ready to explore palettes of brown. Beautiful examples, very inspiring.

  35. AMEN! I moved into an older house in 2017 with lots of warm brown – window trims, doors, etc. I decided to leave them and only paint the millwork white. I also have some sark wood furniture from my house growing up that I have been a little self conscious of. So happy it’s back!

  36. The final image of the bathroom! That is the exact pink I am dreaming of for my powder room which is filled with wood trim and door. Anyone have a guess at the paint or have a similar suggestion?

    My home is filled with the original unpainted woodwork, trim, doors. I have been very tempted to paint it white at times but have resisted because I know how hard it would be to uncover the beautiful wood some day.

    1. I have original wood trims too and had to adjust to them. They were such beautiful craftsman style trims that I didn’t dare paint them. I embraced lighter less saturated wall colors and the rooms look lovely (prior home owners had red and mustard yellow walls! Yuk!). I’m even now considering going even “whiter” to create more airyness/boho/California cool vibe. It’s actually hard to find many examples of real wood trim on Pinterest…sadly.

    2. The owner of that house, Edward Bulmer, has his own paint line and used Cuisse de Nymphe Emue on the walls of the bathroom

      1. Thank you Louise! And Stephanie, we too have had to adjust to the wood trim but also keep our walls white and light. I especially like Farrow & Ball’s chalkier paint colors with the wood trim.

  37. I always love beautiful natural materials (stone, leather, wood). I mean, were walnut and mahogany ever really “out”?! I love the depth and richness of it. That being said, I don’t think I will be embracing the brown walls and fabrics, it’s a little too much for me.

  38. I think that Brown will finally be done right–for the first time! With more contrast, and balance of warm and cold. If it’s not done like that though it will look like the early 2000s (atleast to me.) So ya, I’m into it, if done in a modern way.

    1. Agreed especially re doing it in a modern way. Definitely makes a difference!!

  39. Thank you Emily and Co. for your inspiration, love your blog as always. I need to call my twenty something boys and get back the chocolate brown microfiber sectional I gave them for their first apartment! ok, maybe I’m kidding… but man that thing was indestructible and so brown, LOL!

  40. I’m sitting on a luscious brown upholstered couch as we speak and my guest bedroom walls are painted a warm cocoa. I guess I’m in 💗

  41. Love brown wood furniture in darker shades to warm up white walls. We are even putting in a chestnut vanity in my new grey/white marble bathroom. But no no no to the rest of it, especially brown ceilings! I did enjoy the post and your style of writing :).

  42. In the 80’s I bought a brown Iranian rug in San Francisco the only one they had they said no one wanted it. I did Browns and cream I still love it

  43. This was an interesting post! Loved the pictures and the explanation for why the brown works in each picture. Well written!

  44. On gosh, do I love all the browns, almost as much as green. Great job on this post. What goes around comes around!

  45. It’s interesting thinking about all of this cyclical color trend stuff. To me, there was another little brown surge about 5-10 years ago, which I still have some of the remnants of. It was mostly chocolate brown and sandy tan used as neutrals. I still have chocolate brown towels in our master bathroom, tan carpet in one area of our house and dark brown carpet in another, and lots of dark wood furniture – most of which isn’t what I would pick now, but it just hasn’t been replaced yet. Those browns were replaced in the trends by gray, which ironically still goes really well with chocolate brown. I have a coverlet from Target (purchased in 2011 I think) that is gray with dark brown accent stitching, and it’s like it’s just the right combo of warm and cool tones that bridges both sides.

    I think it’s inevitable that we swing toward warm neutrals just about the time everyone has accepted cool neutrals as the default, because then the warm ones seem fresh and new. I’m not ready to start buying it again yet, though – I haven’t even gotten around to replacing my brown bathroom towels that were perfectly in style 5 years ago! Maybe I just need to wait it out!

    1. I think you’re right. I had a pink and brown shower curtain in a temporary space between houses in 2013.

  46. I’m a more recent brown convert. We moved from a center hall colonial with white trim everywhere to a 1940’s bungalow with a large extension – all with beautiful craftsman style walnut trim. I’m embracing the skew of more wood/brown in our decor and have even designed our kitchen remodel to have walnut base cabinets, white uppers and a navy island – walnut to tie into the feel of the home but white and navy to give it a modern flair. Brown clothes…now that’s something I’m not sure about yet…

  47. Great article, beautiful pics but I agree it’s not for everyone nor suitable for every space.

  48. Mind blown! Planning our own kitchen renovation and was wondering if I should keep the brown cabinets. They’re actually nice and in good shape. The answer is maybe now! I like a deep, rich neutral brown without too much yellow. Love it in furniture + furniture. Very interesting post!

    1. are they wood? i say KEEP! just work around them and i bet you’ll like them. wood is so warm and rich.
      if not wood, i say paint them!

  49. I love your writing Laurren, it was an enjoyable read. But while I think these examples are gorgeous, I just can’t imagine using brown paint in an ordinary house with lower ceilings and smaller windows – it seems the grander scale and airy natural light elevates the brown tones, but in a regular house I feel it would feel dirty and drab. But wooden furniture and architectural features I am here for!

  50. Best brown room ever – Billy Baldwin’s studio apartment in NYC.

    Thank for including the antiques, which so often are mis-characterized as “brown furniture.” As most of your photos show, antique woods contain a range of colors. I love the way mahogany fades to gold after years of sunlight.

    Right after you say “let’s talk paint,” you show a bedroom with a beautiful taupey brown on the walls. Can you tell me the name of the color and the maker?

  51. Browns hard. And these pictures all have very expensive and interesting materials – real wood, velvet, plaster, etc. For the average person to use brown and have it look good is NOT easy.

  52. Just painted out some brown walls before moving into our home–it would have been fine in a matte/flat paint, but it was shiny and horrible. I like natural wood, but usually I have strayed from brown. Until I found a brown/gray rug that was super cheap and so I bought it and it turns out I love it. I like brown bordering on some other color best, like gray or orange or whatever.

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  54. Like any color, if done well, can be amazing. And if not, not. Nice examples!

  55. I enjoyed the thoughts and the idea of expanding my mind to embrace brown. Like another commenter said, I probably just need time (like a year!) to come around to embracing brown (other than natural leathers or etc.) in the home! That being said, I don’t enjoy wearing browns. I enjoy blacks and whites and creams, but I never radiate toward brown clothing. So I take that as a sign.

  56. I live in a MCM home with exposed wood ceilings that are stained a mid-tone brown. When we moved in a few years ago, I had difficulty figuring out how to incorporate this color into the overall look. I’m happy to see brown re-emerging to hopefully give me some more ideas of what to do with my own home! Also, I am so OVER the all-white kitchens. Thank you for this post.

  57. Not complete sold yet but I do love that kitchen with the dark brown shelving area.

  58. I like the warmth of brown, in doses. Too bad none of these photos feature the orange-brown that is my 1950s home’s trim, though! I’d love to see solutions for wall paint colors and what kinds of wood furniture work with original trim/woodwork when it’s a tricky color like 1950s orange-brown. And on a small budget. And without turning my house into a contemporary version of a midcentury-mod museum . . .

  59. Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of the Pantone color “Opaque Couché” and it’s honorable place as the ugliest color in the world? Tobacco sellers are required to use this color on their packaging to discourage people from smoking!!

    So I guess that’s how I feel about the wrong color brown. . .that said, adding brown to mute colors down as opposed to adding cool gray feels like something new and welcome. We could use some more warmth in this world and maybe that’s why design is going there. I personally love shades of terra-cotta.

  60. We had chocolate brown walls in our dining room area for several years. After a while I noticed that I felt depressed every time I went into the space. Once I realized that walls the color of poop were the culprit, I updated to bright, airy paint and haven’t looked back! I am on board with using brown in accent pieces, namely ones that should be brown, like something made of wood. But I would definitely advise against using it in something so large scale as painting the walls of a big space with it as you are sure to tire of it quickly!

  61. I loved all the brown walls and furniture. Where I live it’s always cold and foggy. In my own opinion, brown is comforting.

  62. I was into brown when I was a kid. Other kids had Barbie pink walls; mine I painted brown. And many decades later I painted one wall of my bedroom dark chocolate brown and we repeated that when we moved to our downsized condo.
    I just wish I could find a rich brown sweater for my wardrobe … still hasn’t trickled down to department stores.

  63. Brown never really went away for me but I’m a die hard Anglophile who inherited a lot of brown furniture from my Grandparents. Brown has so much depth and soul to it. I’ve never considered a richer brown on walls before now but for me, I’d lighten up the interior a bit before going darker on the walls too. But, in a world of so much white and gray, this post feels so fresh. I’m bored of white and minimalist everything. Bring on the pattern mixing and layers of rich tones.

    Really loving the rich tans, terra cottas, and burnt rust colors in fashion right now too. Goes so well with so many hair and skin colors.

    I’m all in!

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