Brown is the Base of a Great Space


A steaming cup of hot cocoa … logs in the fireplace, ready to light … piles of leaves, raked in the yard … a forest of twiggy bare trees, resting until spring. Brown is the story of fall. And, I think, it’s the story of a well dressed home.


Mother Nature’s favorite canvass, brown is the perfect base from which to build a sensational room, warm and cozy, rich and organic, classic and comfortable. I love snugly rooms, well done in shades of brown. But an over saturation of brown, or brown done badly, is like a too-tight hug from your great aunt: It means well, but its leaves you gasping for fresh air. Here are some tips for striking just the right balance of brown in your home.


Use a Spectrum of Shades


For decades, chocolate brown has been a color crush for many of us. Maybe it’s the name. Who could turn down a color named after this life-giving confection? But I think the best rooms don’t camp on one shade of brown. Instead, they thread in this versatile color’s many hues, which range from cool to warm, whisper light to deep dark. Check out how we did just that in this bedding ensemble at Nell Hill’s. By mixing together a variety of patterns, each showing off different tones of brown, this grouping feels cozy and rich, but not heavy or stale.


Tell the Story through Textures


Brown is just one of those colors whose story begs to be told in textures. I’m a fanatic about fabric – if you can’t find me at Nell Hill’s, look for me among the hundreds of bolts of fabric on the second floor, helping customers create custom bedding or pick out fabric for furnishings.



One of my favorite ways to layer up a room in shades of brown is to weave in a variety of textiles, all with different patterns and weights. Pick from wools like a Harris tweed or herringbone, plush velvets and lighter weight cottons for your upholstered furniture, window coverings, accent pillows, bedding, throws.


10-10-8Leather is another irresistible way to add texture to your cozy room. Maybe your bliss is a leather sofa or ottoman, or just a leather accent or two, like a leather clad clock or photo frame. Want a wilder, more rustic look? How about a cowhide?


Of course, one of the most natural and easiest ways to bring in a variety of browns in lots of different textures is through your wood furnishings and finishes. Whether it’s a rich mahogany table that’s been in your family for generations or a coffee table made of driftwood, wood furniture and accents are the pillars of a space.  In this gallery at Nell Hill’s, we incorporated wood pieces in a lot of different styles and finishes to make a finished space that is interestingly layered.


A Perfect Pairing


Brown is one of those remarkable colors that looks amazing with just about everything it’s paired with. Think of brown as you do black, a versatile base upon which you can build any look you want, from sleek modern to timeless traditional. This time of year, I love it showcased with the yummy colors of autumn, from mustard to burnt orange to olive green. On this bed at Nell Hill’s, we mixed together cool and warm tones of brown, then added in ox blood red, amber and cream.


In my home, the color that most often shows up in my palette of browns is “golden retriever blond.” Lyric, in all her generosity, is the contributor, adding touches of golden hair everywhere she goes!


Next Week … The holidays are just around the corner, so we’re starting a series of blogs that will share our tips and techniques for making your home beautiful. First up? Decorating your mantel.