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A fresh approach to browns

From the Resene decorating blog

The comforting, nurturing hues of brown are so easy to embrace. Whether they be the rich, chocolate tones or the gentler almond-creams, these are hues that ground us, creating restful spaces that induce calm and restoration.

A chocolate and orange mediterranean moodboard

Delight your sense by pairing chocolate with sun-soaked pinks and burnt-orange tones for a taste of the Mediterranean. Background in Resene Napa with A4 drawdown paint swatches (clockwise from top) in Resene Sambuca, Resene Sunbaked, Resene Just Dance, Resene Soulful and Resene Despacito and a vase painted Resene Just Dance. Throw from Furtex. Project by Claudia Kozub, image by Melanie Jenkins.

This is an ever-increasing factor that people seek in their homes as the world around us changes. Ultimately, we want our dwellings to provide security and sanctuary for ourselves and our loved ones.

The beauty of brown is that within its wide-ranging tones, there’s a colour that will suit everyone. Take the mid-toned earthy colour of Resene Rickshaw, chalky and soft, which pairs beautifully with the coastal blue of Resene Half Kumutoto.

Or opt for a more juicy, fruity stance, luscious and inviting, with a backdrop in the soothing putty of Resene Antidote teamed with the zesty orange of Resene Tango and earthy neutral of Resene Gingko.

Nature-inspired tones will always work beautifully with brown, evoking the beauty of the outdoors. Take the terracotta brown of Resene Moccasin, it resonates in a cheerful, invigorating way with the olive green of Resene Untamed and the cream of Resene Moonlight. Throw in the fresh, sky-blue of Resene Bluetooth and you have an upbeat harmonious palette.

If the red or pink undertones of brown are calling, coat your walls with the espresso of Resene Brown Pod paired with the orange red of Resene Lusty and touches of pale pink in Resene Sakura. Accents in the lilac pink of Resene Virtuoso, Resene Love Me Do or Resene Purple Rain will also team perfectly with walls in deep chocolate.

For visual effect, colour blocking your colours, varying the dramatic tones from dark to mid-range, will make an on-trend impression. So does splitting your wall horizontally, with your dark brown at the bottom and lighter brown on the top.

Interior designer Stacy Heyman of Studio Reno says every colour has its place and it’s important to create a general base palette, then decide what’s best on the walls to fit in with this. “Clay-toned nudes and browns are having their turn to shine,” she says “We’re seeing a lot more natural tones being incorporated into spaces, which in turn creates a calming, relaxed atmosphere.”

“I personally quite like Resene Akaroa paired with Resene Linen and Resene Just Right. I recently used this colour scheme in my master bedroom, influenced by the environment surrounding our home. Cushions are a great way to begin introducing colours you may be nervous to try, and I brought in the same tones of Resene Akaroa by way of a natural-coloured linen duvet.”

A moody lounge with smoky, sumptuous tones of brown

Hallway centrepiece in brown and terracotta tones

Lounge: Smoky, sumptuous tones of brown and clay are essential to this lounge’s moody setting, but so are the rose accents in energising the setting. Wall and floor in Resene Suits, fireplace in Resene Noir, side table in Resene Thunder Road, low vase in Resene Noir, low dish in Resene Poured Milk, large vase in Resene Route 66, small ribbed vase in Resene Grey Seal, tall bottle vase in Resene Ethereal and tall vase in Resene Moccasin, cork tealight holder in Resene Barnstorm and round vase (on side table) in Resene Barnstorm. Armchair from Contempa, rug from Freedom Furniture, artwork by Reuben Ireland from Pop Motif, knit cushion from Bed, Bath & Beyond, velvet cushion from Citta. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Melanie Jenkins.  Hallway: Brown and terracotta tones in the centrepiece of this hallway provide a focal point for those passing by. Its curved shapes float easily within the space, while the dark earthy tones anchor the coffee cream and crisp white. Walls in Resene Double Spanish White with borders in Resene Eighth Spanish White, floor in Resene Quarter Spanish White, timber shapes stained in Resene Colorwood Meranti and Resene Colorwood Dark Oak, cabinet in Resene Quarter Spanish White, large plant pot (with olive tree) in Resene Double Spanish White, knobby pot in Resene Pioneer Red and art deco table in Resene Clay Creek. Chair and plant stand from Cane Collective, lamp and candleholder from 10 Curated, rug from Briscoes. Project by Melle van Sambeek, image by Bryce Carleton.

Interior designer Hamish Dodd says certain people might want brown but have a slightly conservative approach to colour. “Also, their décor may not suit something that screams ‘now’,” he says. “But they still want to bring in some fashion and on-trend colours that are in fashion. In this case, use Resene Double Pravda. Not many people use this colour in an interior as it's often used on an exterior. To me, it’s a deep beige version of brown. If you want to introduce it to a house with white skirting and furnishings such as oak and timber, you can achieve a traditional look. Bring it in and wrap it around the walls – it’ll work. Brown is so on-trend right now, and this is more of a traditional version that fits in with things today.”

Be careful of red-based browns, as the way these can look will depend on the light in the room, he says. “Bright light shows the true nature of the colour, meaning the red will come through. When paired beside white ceilings and white joinery and skirting, red-based browns will show up more.” I always look at colour swatches on an A4 white sheet of paper to see the true base colour.

A dark brown bedroom with blue accessories

Cohesion is vital to this peaceful oasis in which deep, dark brown feels protective and soothing. Indigo blue enhances the minimal palette, bringing in uplifting colour without making the space too fussy. Walls in Resene Monkey, floor in Resene Space Shuttle, pendant lamp in Resene Kabul, dresser in Resene Kabul, bedside lamp in Resene Americano, side table in Resene Kilamanjaro, plant pot in Resene Kabul and Resene Americano (short) with pot in Resene Space Shuttle, books in Resene Kabul and Resene Space Shuttle, DIY Artwork in Resene Kilamanjaro (monochrome version) and Resene Monkey and Resene Madison (blue and brown version), blue vases painted in Resene Madison and Resene Bunting, tall vase with dried flowers in Resene Americano and arch vase in Resene Monkey. Duvet, cushion covers, rug and mini lamp from Citta, velvet cushion cover, throws and blue linen cushions from H&M Home, round cushion from Country Road. Project by Vanessa Nouwens, image by Bryce Carleton.

If you want to bring in a white with your brown walls, pick one with a similar base to your wall colour, so they sit nicely together, Hamish says. “Greyed or warmer white such as Resene Thorndon Cream, with a green/beige tinge, often works well with brown paint colours. Resene Artisan is a nice mid-brown. I love Resene Swiss Caramel, too – it reminds me of natural timbers in a house. I can picture it in any room, and it can work with natural timber-finished floors and whites or greens. It has a slightly retro feel to it, which, to me, is fun. Maybe it’s one wall in a bedroom or guest bedroom, where you can have a bit of fun.”

Adopt a pared-back chocolate palette with the brown coffee tones of Resene Sambuca or the velvet of Resene Wood Bark. These dark hues speak volumes when coated on furniture or lighting shades against a warm white background, such as Resene Thorndon Cream or a gentle beige of Resene Bone or Resene Alpaca.

A lounge painted in restful desert hues

Restful living areas call for desert hues that warm the soul. Mix soft caramel with chalky grey and apricot accents full of heart. Vertical lines breaks up the wall, bringing the focus to the seated area. Walls in Resene Smooth Operator with stripes in Resene Mountain Mist, floor in Resene Wafer, peg stools in Resene Mountain Mist and Resene Kalgoorie Sands, tall vase in Resene Beethoven, large plant pot in Resene Rodeo Dust and lampshade in Resene Mountain Mist. Chairs from Dawson & Co, rug from Ivy House, plant pot from Kings Plant Barn, lampshades and peg stools from Freedom Furniture. Project by Kate Alexander, image by Bryce Carleton.

Heighten the comfort levels within this setting with tactile elements that talk to the senses. Bring in a comforting rug that feels heavenly underfoot, floor cushions that feel soft when you sink into them and seating that you won’t want to get up from.

For a kitchen, lounge or bedroom that evokes a moody, dramatic feel and a sense of enclosure, look to the deep walnut tones of Resene Monkey or Resene Space Shuttle. Pair with the mid-toned hue of Resene Kabul or Resene Domino and add accents in the blue of Resene Matisse or Resene Blue Moon for contrast.

For a touch of sunny cheer in this space, use mustard accents in your cushions or by painting organic shapes on your wall – do this with Resene Influential or Resene Cleopatra for a striking impact.

Lighting is important when decorating a room in dark brown too. It’ll provide a warm glow when you need it within a dark palette, especially if you’re lacking in natural light. So, allow for several table lamps scattered around your room – brass fixtures will help bounce the light around.

Resene Despacito

Resene Ethereal

Resene Soulful

Resene Just Dance

Resene Sunbaked

Resene Artisan

Resene Thunder Road

Resene Suits

Resene Noir

Resene Swiss Caramel

Resene Route 66

Resene Barnstorm

Resene Moonlight

Resene Influential

Resene Cleopatra

Resene Untamed

Resene Poured Milk

Resene Space Shuttle

Resene Bluetooth

Resene Grey Seal

Resene Virtuoso

Resene Love Me Do

Resene Purple Rain

March 30, 2021

For more ideas and inspiration for decorating your home, check out more brown decorating project ideas from other home decorators and visit your Resene ColorShop.

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