Balancing Brown Wall Color

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Feb 21, 2012 | Lee Anne Culpepper

Do you see how the brown paint and white trim complement each other? I designed this room and an Atlanta painting contractor painted it. --Lee AnneAre you afraid to paint your walls brown? Don't be. Light shades of brown can be a warm alternative to white and deep browns can add drama and definition to a space. And men: It's a classic, masculine color that will always be in style for man-caves and personal libraries.  I've designed and decorated spaces in the Atlanta area, from rustic lodges to mansions worthy of envy. You know what they all have in common? Brown paint on the walls. If Atlanta's classic-style tastemakers aren't afraid to paint their walls brown, you know it's a classic color that works. I'm about to tell you how I use this versatile color, and how I use it properly.

Using Brown in the Bedroom

One client's bedroom had a sterile feel to it. It had a tall, white, vaulted ceiling with white trim, and white book cases. By painting the walls a beautiful shade of brown, the white wood against the brown walls looked crisp and clean. Brown is a relaxing color that helps to promote sleep, so it's a good choice for a bedroom when balanced by pops of white or color.

Painting Living Areas Brown

Many men favor brown in these rooms because it is the color of the wood, nature and leather. Think mahogany desks and custom carpentry. When I use brown in a preppy-style reading room or study, I like to repeat the brown wall color in the fabric, wallpaper, rugs, and upholstery, not in a dominant way, but as a common thread of color to weave the design together.  When the colors flow gently, the space is relaxing and there is no tension in the design, thus the brown walls in a man’s study envelope him in a masculine, stable environment.

Balance Brown Wall Color with Light

Brown walls work well when there is a lot of light in the space; but a lack of light makes the space dull, dark, and sad.  The light can be natural or accent lighting. Light fixtures inspired by nature work well with brown wall color.

On the subject of “light”… light fabrics should be mixed with the walls to lift the dark tone. The light and dark combination awards sophistication to the motif.  This can be accomplished by using cream curtain panels, or a cream sofa or rug. Light colored accessories are a nice contrast against the brown walls.

Balance Brown Walls with Colorful Accessories

When using brown, the trend has been to pop the color with hot pink, tangerine, or lime green accents.  These colors can be introduced in the form of pillows, lamps, accessories, fabrics or area rugs. By adding intense, neon colors it alters the quiet mood that the brown tone sets, and makes it exciting and stimulating.  The contrast in emotions is what makes the combination so interesting and appealing.

The current trend in home design is light walls, cream, white or gray. White walls, white upholstery, and white floors are in style for the moment.  As I stated, “for the moment,” because that is about how long white will stay white in most environments. If you dare to be different, head to your local paint dealer and grab a fan deck of brown paint colors and test some out on your walls. You might be surprised that brown can actually look more classic and more sophisticated than white.

Lee Anne Culpepper writes for Networx. Get home & garden ideas like this on Networx.

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