Balancing Brown Wall Color

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 style tastemakers aren't afraid to paint their walls brown, you know it's a classic color that works. Here's how to use this versatile color.

Using Brown in the Bedroom

One client's bedroom had a sterile feel to it. It featured a tall, white vaulted ceiling with white trim, and white bookcases. When the walls were painted a beautiful shade of brown, by contrast the white wood looked crisp and clean. Brown is a relaxing color that helps to promote sleep, so it's a good choice for a bedroom balanced by pops of white or color.

Painting Living Areas Brown

Many men favor brown in living areas because it is the color of 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 to weave the design together.  When the colors flow gently, the space is relaxing and there is no tension in the design.

Balance Brown Wall Color with Light

Brown walls work well when there is a lot of light in the room; otherwise the space will feel 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-colored fabrics should be mixed with the walls to lift the dark tone. This can be accomplished by using cream curtain panels, or a cream sofa or rug. The light and dark combination imparts sophistication to the motif.  

Balance Brown Walls with Colorful Accessories

The trend has been to contrast brown 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, you alter the quiet mood set by the brown tone, making it exciting and stimulating. The contrast in emotions is what makes the combination so interesting and appealing.

Brown vs White

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, hire a painter to cover your walls in your favorite shade of brown. You might be surprised that brown can actually look more classic and more sophisticated than white.

Lee Anne Culpepper writes for Networx

Updated August 28, 2018.

Get Free Quotes

Looking for a Pro? Call us at (866) 441-6648

Get Free Quotes
  • Service Needed
  • Zip Code
Get quotes from qualified local contractors