Five Ways to Decorate with a Brown Sofa

Everyone knows a brown sofa is extremely practical, which is why so many retailers sell them and so many of us buy them!  Dark brown is most forgiving when it comes to dirt and stains and for those of us with active families, a brown sofa is a smart choice. 

One complaint that accompanies the ownership of a brown sofa is an assumption that the color is blah or boring.  Not true!  Here are five ways to style a brown sofa so that it remains fresh and modern.


Lighten Up.   A dark brown sofa will not dominate a space when surrounded by lighter elements.  Paint the walls a pale neutral then choose artwork, accessories, and accent furniture in lighter or colorful hues to balance the darkness of the piece.  


brown sofa patterened pillows bhg


Crisp white ceilings and trim also keep the space light and bright.


brown sofa light trim bhg


Welcome Warm Tones.  Brown is a warmer neutral that plays well with wood and other warm tones, just think of all the colors of fall!  Choose accent hues in autumn colors such as deep red, mustard yellow, or burnt sienna to pair naturally with a brown sofa.


brown sofa colorful pillows and rug bhg


warm tones brown sofa bhg


Cool It.   Brown works equally well with cooler blues and greens.  Use accent chairs, window panels, or colorful pillows in cooler tones to add calm and color to a space anchored by a brown sofa.  


cool tones brown sofa bhg


brown sofa green accents bhg


Console Yourself.    Although this sofa is tan not brown, the same design principle applies.  Pull the sofa into the center of the room, layer a console table along the back, then fill it with books or other objects to take the eye away from the sofa and toward the decorative display.


tan sofa console table bhg


Embrace It.   Add accent chairs that pick up the hue of the existing dark sofa and cover the sofa with decorative pillows to lighten the visual weight of darker furniture. 


brown sofa and accent chairs bhg


Work with the existing piece by painting the walls a similar hue.  Use the power of contrast to create impact between light and dark with crisp white ceilings and trim.


chocolate brown sofa light pillows bhg


Brown sofas are cozy and stylish too when paired with pops of fresh color and the contrast created with white.   In what ways do you style your brown sofa or dark upholstered furniture?





57 Responses to “ Five Ways to Decorate with a Brown Sofa ”

  1. I just refreshed our family room and we just so happen to have a brown leather couch. A recent trip to a tag sale, led to a turquoise dresser for $5 that inspired the whole room. I hope you can check it out!

  2. Wow Holly, well done! I love your light pillows with turquoise accents!

  3. After years of negotiation, my husband won and we bought a dark brown leather sofa and love seat. I’m not a fan of the blue or turquoise and brown palette that’s been so popular, and I had never been able to make this room what I wanted to be. ESPECIALLY since I’m a bright color kinda girl. Then I went to work at Pier 1 and seeing the different ways our dark sofas have looked in different seasons showed just how versatile this color can be and now I have a whole new appreciation for this furniture. Still, I appreciate this article because now I understand the why and how a great look comes from these dark basics.

  4. Wow! I sure needed this article! I’ve been thinking of asking this very question, as I am one of your most inept decorators/DIYers who follows you! I have a new dark brown leather couch, and this article has given me lots of ideas to consider to help me make my family room look good. Thank you so much!!! Again, I follow you because I love your decorating style, your creativity, your photography, and your writing style! You’re truly fabulous! (I’ve stumbled across you right near the beginning of your blog and have checked in nearly every day since!!!)

  5. Thank you so much for this article Kate! I have a dark brown leather couch and replacing it is simply not an option right now. It gets downright depressing seeing room after room with white or light slip covered couches all over blogland and magazines. I love seeing rooms that look different from the norm and I appreciate your recognition that dark couches can be lovely in rooms too. Thank you for showing some outside-of-the-white ideas :-)

  6. I am so inspired! I have been gearing up to slipcover my large brown sectional-but it is huge and was going to be SO MUCH work. After reading this I really think my four kid, one dog, and one cat family may be better off sticking with the brown sofa and painting furniture and making curtains instead. Thank you!

  7. Thanks for the tips! We don’t have a brown sofa, but we do have two very large brown club chairs. I always fret about how to decorate around them. These are some great ideas!

  8. Oh YES! We LOVE brown sofas and chairs. They are the staples of our living area. The color adds a distinctive area in our space, which we need since it serves as a living room, dining rooms, sitting area and kitchen. We have another brown sofa on order now. We keep with the throw pillow vibe to add warmth, interest and natural elements. Here is how how brown sofa and chair looked a few months back….

    I made some changes since then, but you get the point ;) Thanks for this great collection for future inspiration!


  9. Thanks so much for sharing Joanne!

  10. Thanks so much Tammy!

  11. Please do one on decorating with a red sofa! As a lover of turquoise & green I’m completely stymied on how to pull a room together with this color. It’s a great comfy sofa so I don’t want to get rid of it. Has a skinny beige stripe in it too.

  12. I needed this article. I’m in a major brown sofa dilemma. I bought it not because it was my prefered color of choice, but like you said because it was practical with two dogs. Now I’ve got some great ideas on decorating with them. :)

  13. Oh my! I have two dark brown leather sofas and a room that needs a makeover. This has given me some great ideas to lift that room. Thank you.

  14. can you suggest a blue paint color like the shade in the 5th picture (with the green curtains)


  15. Love all these ideas!!! Do you know where I can get the fabric in the 2nd photo? The one with the brown and orange color scheme?? Lhas a feedsack fabric look… If you could please email me, I’d be so grateful… Thank you- Jen

  16. Love the ideas, brown is a fantastic colour for a new sofa.

  17. love the post, love the ideas and of course love the brown sofas, especially with the crisp white ceilings. Brown is a fantastic colour to choose for your sofa as it can be used with so many different colour schemes. Find cheap brown leather sofas here to spice up your room.

  18. Good post. I study something tougher on totally different blogs everyday. It should always be stimulating to learn content from different writers and observe a little bit something from their store. I’d choose to make use of some with the content on my weblog whether or not you don’t mind. Natually I’ll offer you a link in your net blog. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Where can I find the accent chair in the fifth picture? This one that is striped with the blue and green

  20. I have tan walls, white trim and black interior doors. I purchased a chocolate brown micro fiber furniture piece because I have two dogs.

    However, I have also made black & white curtains (horizontally striped) for my living room. How can I tie all this together?

    I’m having trouble! Help!

  21. The room up above that is the fifth one down the page has a beautiful wall color. Can anyone tell me what color that is?

  22. THANK YOU sooo much for this! Great tips. I have a very expansive brown sofa set I bought from Macy’s and I always have a hard time picking the right curtains and pillows. Thank you!!!

  23. I also would like the name of the Blue Green color in picture 5! Thanks!

  24. Please what is the wall color in picture 5 !!!!

  25. Where can I buy the cushions from picture one??

  26. I am having purchase a family room ottoman and hopefully leather recliner to accompany an existing a brown sectional sofa (with brighter orange hue rather that mocha dark tone ). I have an open concept living room with gray tones just on the other side of our fireplace. My question is what color leathers would mesh well? I was leaning toward gray and or navy blues? The curtains are charcoal vintage velvet and light turquois.
    any ideas would be helpful.

  27. Where can I find the curtains in the 5th pic from the top?!?!?

  28. very interested in the wall color and fabric for curtains in pic 5.
    how do find out about these things??? does anyone really read this questions :)

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  30. I have a blaze orange wall and brown sofa. I am having trouble what color of curtains I should put. Kindly help

  31. I have light blue walls and oak end tables and entertainment center and oak floors. I am thinking about chocolate brown furniture. Do you think this is a good pick? I’m also thinking of a goldish color chair with lines of dark brown in it. Do you think all of this will tie together. Could you recommend what color and kind of throw rug will bring it all together. We don’t buy furniture too often so I want it to look really good. I was also looking at sage green with dark lines in it but then I’d have to paint the walls and I have no idea what color??? Please help me Thanks

  32. Where can I find the brown and white accent chairs to purchase in the Embrace It picture? They are beautiful.

  33. Where can I buy the chairs int the photo under the Embrace It caption.

  34. I have a dark wood floor with a striped (red, brown, and tan ottoman. What color of rug would you put under it.

  35. hello!! I was just wondering I have a big 3 seater and a 2 seater dark brown couch. it is going into an house that has wooden floors. I’m drawn to the blues and green do you think those colors would suit a dark brown couch? what colour coffee table do you think?rug? thank you so much

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  37. Do you know where I can find the rug found in the fourth picture? I am struggling to find the right color rug to go with my brown couch! I love this one.

  38. I am thinking about chocolate brown furniture. I thing that the curtains are charcoal vintage velvet and light turquois.

  39. Hello,

    Where can I find the navy blue and white chairs pictured under the embrace it tag?I think it’s picture eight.

  40. Can you please tell me where I can get hold of the coffee table in the “embrace it” image (no 7) it’s the white and glass one – been searching for ages and I came across your site – the images are so Inspirational! Realise it’s now 2015 but wonder if you still have any details – many thanks!

  41. Hi, We just moved to our new house in Richmond hill, before finish up the interior designing. My mother gifted me a Huron sofa from the custom sofa sectionals in Toronto. She informed me before about this gift so the living room is painted in such a way that is, in white because the white color more contrast with brown color sofa. Also styled the room with lighting techniques and pale color curtains giving more attentions to the sofas. I don’t want my living room to look cool and unpleasant . I think I made a good change.

  42. Love all these ideas. Another way to work with a brown sofa is to surround it with lighter colors. This will provide balance to a darker piece, and will brighten the room.

  43. I would like to source the green & white drapery fabric and the striped chair fabric in photo five. Can you please provide with the necessary info so I can these fabrics please? Thanks a bunch!

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