It might not be the flashiest color, but brown is far from boring. Learn how to create stunning color combinations with brown.
Advertisement

The color brown too often gets a bad rap as lackluster or boring. But there's a warming trend going on in neutrals. Grays are giving way to midtone browns that are just as versatile and create the coziness we crave. This year, we're recognizing them as a comforting backdrop that works with almost any color you want to play against them.

assortment brown paints lids
Clockwise, from top right: Transcend by PPG, Gingersnaps by Benjamin Moore, Turbinado by Clare, Toffee Crunch by Behr, and Oak Creek by Sherwin-Williams.
| Credit: Carson Downing

Deciding which brown is right for your walls depends largely on how you want the room to feel. "Do you want it to feel open and airy? Then go lighter," says Nicole Gibbons, designer and founder of Clare paint company. "Do you want it to feel cozy and moody? Go darker." Warmer than black or charcoal gray, deep browns are rich, enveloping, and dramatic. Either way, plan on decorating with multiple browns of the same temperature but different tones. Here are our favorite ways to pair brown with colors.

living room with fireplace and pattern ceiling

Chocolate Brown + Cream + Red Color Scheme

Lean into brown's copper side by pairing it with orange or red of equal intensity. In this formal living room, the crisp white ceiling balances rich dark-brown walls. An area rug, draperies, and upholstery finished in a warm shade of white help counteract deep hardwood flooring. Small pops of bright red add energy to the built-ins and furnishings.

white livingroom with brown couch and grey chairs
Credit: Kat Teutsch

Beige + Brown Color Scheme

This sandy beige has red undertones that bring out the richness of chocolate brown for a perfectly balanced pairing. When pairing similar colors, texture is everything. "If you're going to use one color and you don't have different textures, the room can feel flat," says designer Lauren McGrath. A shag-style rug, bamboo blinds, and wood furniture prevent this family room from falling flat.

Eclectic style living room
Credit: Annie Schlechter

Brown + Gray Color Scheme

Who says gray and brown can't work together? Opt for a shade of gray with warm undertones to keep the color palette cohesive. In this family room, a cappuccino-color sofa and pale beige walls warm up a charcoal rug, marble coffee table, and blue throw pillows.

living room brown couch with colored throw pillows
Credit: Brie Williams Photography Inc

Brown + Pink Color Scheme

Lighten the look of a dark brown sofa with feminine pink accents and plenty of patterns. The two warm shades blend harmoniously when set against clean white walls. Various shades of pink repeat on this living room's pillows, framed artwork, and furniture upholstery.

bathroom brown white tile vanities mirrors
Credit: John Granen

Brown + White Color Scheme

The earthy hues of brown will always be enhanced when contrasted with crisp white. The tall subway tile backsplash in this bathroom is a winning combination with the chocolate brown color above it, the two working together to increase the drama. Without the white wall treatment, the bathroom would feel too dark. The walnut stain on the vanity becomes a focal point against the crisp white tile.

elegant formal living room
Credit: Edmund Barr

Brown + Warm Hues Color Scheme

Nature puts on a vibrant display in the fall. Capture the popular hues of autumn year-round with oranges, yellows, and warm brown tones repeated throughout the home. A brown sofa is a practical choice, as is wood furniture. Up the energy and create a more inviting space by peppering it with artwork, throw pillows, or decorative accents in shades of rust, mustard, and amber.

high-contrast navy blue bedroom
Credit: Anthony Masterson

Brown + Blue Color Scheme

Brown and blue are made for each other since the cool tones in the blues harmonize with the warmer ones found in wood furniture. The judicious use of bold blue on the walls, pillows, and curtains of this relaxing bedroom adds modern flair to traditional furnishings.

brown white pink living room set up
Credit: David Tsay

Brown + Pastels Color Scheme

Restful shades of green and pink pretty up a sitting room but a good dose of brown will ground the pastel hues and lend a sophisticated touch. Pale pastels never appear juvenile when dramatic brown fabrics or wood furniture are near. In this living room, brown upholstery and a wood coffee table ground a soft pink sofa and light beige walls.

living room

Brown + Green Color Scheme

Kelly green and pale blues are cooler colors that contrast nicely with the warmth of brown and energize this family room. Choose patterned accent chairs, window panels, and colorful pillows in these hues to rejuvenate a space anchored by brown walls or furniture.

retro living room with wooden rafters
Credit: John Bessler

Brown + Yellow Color Scheme

In a room with a warm palette that blends tans, taupes, and medium-tone browns, sunny yellow accents partner nicely. The large-scale abstract artwork, bright accent pillows, and vibrant yellow chair pop against a neutral background in this stylish living room that combines traditional and midcentury modern style.

bathroom

Brown + Purple Color Scheme

Dark-stained wood cabinetry paired with plum walls heightens the drama in a bathroom. These deeper colors aren't timid or shy; their depth together enriches the small space and conveys an air of sophistication. Look to less saturated purples with a gray or brown undertone as the best complement to brown cabinets or furniture.

shades of brown color scheme
Credit: Stacey Branford

Shades of Brown Color Scheme

Calculated layers of latte linens and mahogany furniture against mocha walls work together to create a cozy living room. White and natural light helps to brighten a timeless space layered with a traditional rug, framed art, and patterned textiles.

By Kate Riley and Monika Eyers

    Comments (3)

    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    March 2, 2021
    Brown is a neutral color. It matches with all other colors as long as your base (yellow or blue) are the same and you keep your tint, tone and shade in mind.
    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    March 2, 2021
    This article is different. I love browns but only 4 1/2 of the pictures show brown. There’s a blue and white room, The rest of the examples are white or cream with colors. I would not count an accessory piece or two “decorating” with brown.
    Better Homes & Gardens Member
    October 3, 2018
    I love brown. Thanks for the inspiration. I never thought of brown and purple