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Brown Is the New Black for Interior Decor

05/27/2015 08:05 EDT | Updated 05/27/2016 05:59 EDT
Yanic Simard

For some, humble brown may sound like the most boring of colours, but in fact this often overlooked hue can be a source of rich depths, bringing variety, harmony, and a sense of peace to nearly any palette. Read on for some top ways to bring brown into your decor, for a look that says anything but "basic."

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Brown perfectly anchors a multi-hued look

It's Softer Than Black

It may seem obvious that brown isn't as dark as black, but what's worth considering is how this difference will then relate to the other colours in your space.

While pure black is free of undertones that can make it clash with other hues, just the intensity of such a dark tone can create conflict. Brown is a mix of several other colours (usually with a little more red/orange for overall warmth), so it can find common ground with virtually any hue, while still creating subtle contrast for a sense of life.

If your space contains a large variety of other colours, try brown as a neutral than can tie them all together, for fundamentals such as a sofa, wood stain (mid tone over deep espresso) or a chunky ottoman.

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Organic brown suits natural textures, like rich woods

It's Textural

Brown's subtle blend of hues helps take the focus off the colour itself, and allow textures to show through in a rich and inviting way.

Because brown is such a natural colour, it works beautifully on fabrics and materials that carry a more organic texture, such as leather, hide, linen, clay, wool, and the like. On a more "flawless" manmade material, such as plastics or synthetic carpeting, the conflict between the smooth texture and the earthy hue can be a turn off. To get the best of brown, choose it for items that look rich or rugged (such as a supple wool drapery over a smooth silk curtain), and celebrate a wood floor (a staple of most homes new and old).

Texture is important to adding diversity and interest to any space, so try tossing in a faux fur or boiled wool blanket, and shearling or jute pillows, for chocolatey tones with real bite.

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Interior by Toronto Interior Design Group

It's The Strong, Silent Type

Brown, especially in a rugged material like worn leather or a rugged wood, brings a warmth and masculinity which can help round out a space, balancing feminine decorative touches while maintaining a sense of peace.

To help balance airy design elements like floral prints, bright colours, and delicate light fixtures, use brown accents like a hide rug, rich wood cocktail table, vintage midcentury leather lounger, or look to Snob for artifacts and handcarved stools you can mix in anywhere.

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Zimbabwe Stools from Snob

Try brown for bedroom elements like a headboard or a warm blanket, to bring life to crisp white sheets and achieve a look that will help everybody sleep peacefully.

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Interior by Toronto Interior Design Group

It's Easy to Mix and Match

Earthy colours like brown and green are the easiest to mix and match in a tone on tone look for a simple reason: we're already used to seeing them this way in nature, on everything from leafy trees to wild animals.

To make sure brown feels sophisticated instead of simply drab, mix several tones together for that "box of chocolates" appeal. For a full effect, add in tans (a bit more orange), sand (closer to white), and near-blacks, so your eye captures a sense of gradation. Look for nature inspired prints and patterns, rather than geometrics, to fit with the organic vibe and further mix up the look.

Just because brown is back doesn't mean classic black could ever be truly "out". A black accent will bring out browns warm tones even more, so don't be scared to mix the two.

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Faux Velboa Blanket from Yanic Simard Selected (ysselected.com)

For more colour inspiration (browns and beyond) visit tidg.ca/interiors.

Got a sweet colour story to share? Find me on Instagram and Twitter @yanicsimard!

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