Brown sofas, especially dark brown ones, are often picked for their practicality, but this neutral furnishing doesn't have to be boring. Use these styling tips to bring out the beauty in your brown sofa.


Brown sofas are a practical living room staple, which is why so many retailers sell them and so many of us buy them. This popular neutral furnishing meshes well with most color palettes and design styles. Plus, dark brown is one of the most forgiving upholstery colors when it comes to dirt and stains, making it a smart choice for those with pets or young children. However, one complaint that often accompanies brown sofas is that the color is blah or boring, but that's simply not true. Check out these ideas on how to style a brown sofa to give this classic furniture piece a fresh, modern look.

earth tone living room with sectional
Credit: Jay Wilde

1. Embrace earth tones.

Lean into an organic look by pairing a brown sofa with earth tones. Colors like olive green, watery blue, terra-cotta, and rusty red all work well with brown because they're often seen together in nature. Choose an earthy wall color and decorate your brown sofa with neutral pillows or throws for a warm, inviting living room.

living room furniture fireplace stairs
Credit: Adam Albright

2. Choose warm accent colors.

Brown is a warm neutral that plays well with wood and other warm tones (think: the typical colors of fall). Choose accent hues in autumn colors such as deep red, mustard yellow, or burnt sienna that pair naturally with a brown sofa. These homeowners used white accent furniture and lots of pillows to balance out the chocolaty-brown seating.

kohlhepp house living room picture window
Credit: Erin Kunkel

3. Contrast a brown sofa with cool blues.

Most shades of brown have warm undertones, which means cool-colored accents often pair nicely with brown sofas. Blue throws and pillows, for example, can help bring out the richness in brown leather upholstery. In this living room, walls wrapped in wood paneling and a variety of plush textures (supplied by faux-fur and fringe details on blue and cream-colored pillows, throws, and rugs) layer in coziness.

green midcentury modern living room with plants
Credit: Carson Downing

4. Opt for a bold wall color.

For a bold design statement, play up the impact of a brown sofa by choosing a saturated wall color. This space features vibrant emerald green walls that make the sofa's caramel tones pop. A variety of leafy houseplants add to the room's refreshing style.

white living room brown sofas
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

5. Warm up an all-white room.

This neutral space might look cold and uninviting without the comfy brown sofa to warm things up. A mix of reds, yellows, and greens appears on the table accessories, throw pillows, and furnishings to inject small pops of color into the room. The all-white walls crisply contrast the sofa's rich color and rounded edges.

living room brown sofa furniture
Credit: David Tsay

6. Make a statement with a brown sofa.

A brown leather couch can be a dramatic statement piece, especially when it's a tufted Chesterfield style. Funky retro furniture, including checkered slipper chairs and a midcentury-modern console table, adds interest to the room's white paneled walls. Buffalo-check plaid fabric complements the brown sofa's traditional style for a cohesive look.

cozy family room with tan storage bins and blue and white walls
Credit: Brie Williams Photography Inc

7. Redirect the focus.

Take the focus off a brown sofa with a striking wall treatment. A two-tone paint job or interesting panel details can quickly add distinction to living room walls. This space combines two types of millwork (square paneling and a board-and-batten treatment) in contrasting colors to turn walls into a focal point.

living room with antique white hutch
Credit: Jay Wilde

8. Play up antique furniture.

If you found your brown leather sofa at a flea market or vintage store, let it influence the rest of the room. A well-worn brown leather couch will fit right in among wood antique decor or chippy-painted accent furniture. Choose pillows and throw blankets in classic fabrics like linen to complete the vintage look.

living room brown leather sofa
Credit: Kat Teutsch

9. Repeat brown tones.

To ensure your light-brown leather sofa doesn't look out of place, repeat its material elsewhere in the room. Here, a brown leather pouf sits across from the brown sofa to tie the look together. Other brown and natural wood accents on the walls and surfaces keep the theme going.

Sofa wing back chairs living room
Credit: Werner Straube

10. Decorate in traditional style.

A brown leather couch with tufting pairs well with traditional-style furnishings and fixtures. In this cozy library, built-ins contain stacks of vintage books that coordinate with a red rug underneath the brown sofa. Deep blue walls feature a glossy sheen that creates a jewel-like effect.

decorative living area sofa
Credit: Brie Williams

11. Mix and match patterns.

Brown sofas aren't limited to a single decorating style. Pair one with eclectic patterns and prints for a global-inspired style. In this space, framed fabric picks up the beige hues of the sofa while coordinating with pink pillows and decor accents. The wide variety of patterns plays well together because of the coordinated color palette.

armchair brown sofa
Credit: John Bessler

12. Bring in calming blues and greens.

Brown sofas work well with cool blues and greens. Use accent chairs, window panels, or colorful pillows in cooler tones to add calming color to a space anchored by a brown sofa. In this living room, the furniture is paired with decorative wallpaper in an abstract blue pattern.

living room with brown couch and glass chandelier

13. Brighten up a dark brown couch.

A dark brown microfiber couch won't dominate a space when surrounded by lighter elements. Paint walls a pale neutral, then choose artwork, accessories, and accent furniture in lighter or colorful hues to balance the darkness of the furniture. Here, light gray walls, white trim, and cream-colored accents keep the couch from feeling too heavy.

brown sofa antique shelf
Credit: John Bessler

14. Juxtapose a brown sofa with white.

Another way to prevent a brown leather couch from overwhelming a room is to make almost everything else white. You need a lot of a lighter color to balance a very dark one, so feel free to go all-white if you'd like. Crisp white ceilings, walls, and floors help keep this cozy nook light and bright.

great room brown sofa
Credit: William Geddes

15. Choose nature-inspired colors.

Look to the outdoors to inspire color schemes for living rooms with dark brown sofas. This room's brown sofa looks right at home next to other nature-inspired colors, such as the orange pouf, earthy green coffee table, and a set of lively patterned pillows. Natural textures in the woven valances, stone fireplace, and wood floors help ground the design.

living room

16. Work a brown sofa into a colorful palette.

Temper the strong color of a brown sofa with a variety of bright hues and eye-catching patterns. Sea-foam green walls form the foundation of this living room's colorful palette. Coffee table accessories, throw pillows, and an area rug bring in additional vibrant colors that help minimize the sofa's dark upholstery.

blue office room with brown couch tan chair and corner bookselves
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

17. Emphasize a brown couch.

There's no need to hide your brown leather couch or cover it up. You can also choose to highlight its rich, cocoa color with a few easy styling tips. Add accent chairs that pick up the hue of the existing dark sofa, then layer the sofa with decorative pillows to lighten the visual weight of darker furniture.

brown white living room
Credit: Michael Partenio

18. Go all-in on rich brown tones.

Work with your existing brown sofa instead of against it by painting the walls a similar color. Highlight the contrast between light and dark by painting the ceilings and trim bright white. The result is a stately room with bold, rich tones.

Comments (6)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
August 9, 2020
Not impressed. You could use any color sofa. Most of design was a mishmash. Might have been nice to have pops of color or bolder rugs.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
August 9, 2020
Not impressed. You could use any color sofa. Most of design was a mishmash. Might have been nice to have pops of color or bolder rugs.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
April 27, 2020
I did not realize that brown is boring.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
September 7, 2019
I wish this article would list the names of the Fall paint colors used.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
October 22, 2018
Brown is beautiful. Earthy and natural. I'm thinking matching my brown sectional sofa set with green accents, will also match my soft toned wall.thanks for this post, bursting interior ideas here. :)
Better Homes & Gardens Member
June 29, 2018
I have a Hugh brown leather sectional. I’m thinking of painting my living room a color called Stolen KISS, it looks beige with a pinkish touch. Hopefully it will work