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.

By BH&G Editors
Updated July 14, 2020
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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.

Erin Kunkel

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.

Carson Downing

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.

Kritsada Panichgul

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.

David Tsay

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.

Brie Williams Photography Inc

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.

Jay Wilde

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.

Kat Teutsch

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.

Werner Straube

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.

Brie Williams

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.

John Bessler

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.

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.

John Bessler

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.

Laurie Black

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 brown seating.

William Geddes

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.

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.

Kritsada Panichgul

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.

Michael Partenio

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.

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