Most of us know by now that the “Brown Phase” of interior design is (thankfully!) over. It lasted a good long while… through all of the 90’s and into the mid-2000’s. White and gray are tied for the “new neutral”, and bright colors are back in a big way. No more bronzes, golds, and jewel tones – now it’s all light and fresh, with pops of color like cheerful green, intense blue, or red and orange.
However, some of you have purchased homes that were built during the Brown Phase (see Exhibit A, above).
In this case, your only hope is to tackle the biggest surface areas first, and paint all your walls and ceilings. Nothing else you do will have as much impact. Don’t even think about a new sofa or rug til you’ve painted those walls!!
But for those of you just now building, or buying your first home, I’d like to keep you from falling into the dreaded Brown Phase by accident.
It starts harmlessly enough.
An eager family moves into their new home. Within a week they’re surrounded by BROWN. Here’s how:
They start with a Brown Leather Sofa. It’s their biggest item, bought fifteen years ago but still “in great shape”, so one of the spouses ((cough – the hubby – cough)) refuses to give it up.
Add: Brown Hardwood Floors, which really are always classic, so no problem there.
Then add: Brown (Tan) Walls. You’re a little afraid of the starkness of white, maybe, and tried to get a warmer color, but now you’ve got tan or dark beige walls everywhere.
+ Brown-and-Tan Area Rugs (the ones most commonly found, especially at low-to-medium price points… don’t get me started)
+ Dark Brown Wood Furniture (Grandma’s dining room set)
+ Brown (“bronze”) accessories – there’s still all that oil-rubbed bronze in the showrooms!
+ Brown Granite Counters – WAY too busy, way too orange-y, way too outdated. Sadly, it’s still the cheapest granite, so often it’s what new homeowners end up with.
+ Brown Cabinets
+ No Plans for Anything Else
= No Color, No Balance… just uniform, unmodulated brown all over. I see this everywhere!
It’s a rookie mistake.
Thankfully people are no longer mindlessly selecting tan walls and busy brown granite for their homes. But they’re often bringing their brown design baggage with them. A monochromatic design scheme based on brown can work, if that’s what you really want. BUT you must plan it out carefully. Incorporate a full range of values; alleviate the heaviness of brown with plenty of creams and beiges (and keep your browns on the “cool”, rather than “warm”, or reddish, side). Add a variety of rich textures (no more than one leather piece in a room, please!), and strategic, intentional use of color to liven it up (everyday clutter doesn’t count). If your new home is still in the construction phase, go in with your eyes open on this one.
There are some great articles on color trends and how to update your home on our Design Advice page, here. And if you’re eager to paint out all those brown walls, give us a call or set an appointment on our Scheduler at the bottom of the Home page. We offer complementary color consulting, and we absolutely love seeing how happy our clients are with a fresh new color scheme! It’s what makes our work worthwhile. 🙂