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» Colour psychology series : Brown

Colour psychology series : Brown

Wall : Kingsport Gray HC-86. Cabinets : Aegean Teal 2136-40.

What colour could be more grounding than the colour of earth itself.

From soft tan to rich chocolate, the versatility of brown is endless.  Much like the earth, brown if often seen as solid - oozing strength and reliability.  This connection to the natural world offers a strong sense of security, comfort and peace due to the earthy richness that is associated with being grounded.

As we have seen with the other 70's inspired colours making a comeback, such as terracotta, avocado and mustard yellows, brown continues to have a revival in our homes.  Less harsh than black, it offers a sultry alternative that combines solace and drama while working well to create a warm and welcoming space that's full of character.

The colour brown is incredibly versatile and works well when used in all different rooms within the home - from cosy snugs to luxurious kitchens.  Unlike other neutrals such as a white or grey which can be cold, it's an inherently warm colour due to its base of reds, oranges and yellows.

Bookcase : Van Buren Brown HC-70. Bedroom wall : Whipple Blue HC-152. Bedroom woodwork : Hale Navy HC-154.
Brown as an accent colour.

Decorating with brown may seem daunting but there are numerous ways to effortlessly feature this shade in your home.  Using it as an accent colour will allow you to incorporate this bold neutral into your home without having to commit to painting an entire room.

Having an accent draws the eye to specific areas within a space.  Woodwork presents the perfect opportunity for this; whether that's by painting a picture rail, wooden beam or simply adding colour to your skirting.  If you live in a period property, this works wonderfully to emphasise stunning architectural features.  Using a darker shade of brown will create the perfect balance by both drawing attention to a feature, whilst not taking away from its natural beauty.

Alternatively, create an accent by zoning different areas within an open plan space to add a different dimension to the room.  With such a rich cosy colour, this technique can work particularly well to create zones such as a reading corner - essentially anywhere you want to relax.  Considering a deep chocolate such as Wenge AF-180 - with hints of black and violet in its undertone, this muted hue will be a calming influence just before bed.  Accessorise with rich furnishings, lamps and candles to create the ultimate cosy escape.
Right Wall: Wenge AF-180, Left Wall: White Heron OC-57
Right wall & ceiling : Simply White 2143-70. Accent wall : China Blue 2052-60. Ceiling beam : Mississippi Mud 2114-20

A dining room is a great space to try an accent wall - it creates a focal point, enhances the ambience and brings a sense of style and sophistication to a room you want to show off to guests.

To ensure you get the right balance between the different shades you select, follow the 60-30-10 rule ;  60% of the surface area of the room should be the main colour, 30% should be the secondary colour, and 10% should be an accent colour. 
Main wall : White Heron OC-57. Accent wall : Wenge AF-180
The perfect pairings

Working with tones that are reminiscent of nature can help to create a welcoming and nourishing energy.  As a rule of thumb, colours that occur naturally together are inevitably going to complement each other.  When we look at the natural world around us every day we encounter brown and green tones, making this colour combination feel familiar and soothing. 
Image 1 - Walls: Clinton Brown HC-67
Image 2 - Walls & Woodwork: Whitall Brown HC-69, Ceiling: Swiss Coffee OC-45
Incorporating brown into a room with existing natural materials such as wooden flooring, cabinetry or accessories will further elevate the feeling of being grounded and highlight the beauty of the materials within the overall design.  Finish the look with plants, a homely rug and contrasting white woodwork for a welcoming feel. 
Walls: Wenge AF-180, Woodwork & Ceiling: White Heron OC-57
For a fresh and airy look, combine lighter browns with complementary colours such as dusky pink or pale blues. When these softer colours are paired together, the scheme will feel harmonious while creating a chic and stylish aesthetic. 
Near wall : Driftwood 2107-40. Far wall : Soft Satin 2164-60. Woodwork : Atrium White OC-145.
Upper Walls: Cotswold AF-150, Lower Walls: Proposal AF-260, Ceiling: Gardenia AF-10
Drench the space in a single colour

For a strong statement, apply a deep brown in an all-encompassing, floor to ceiling finish. Although this may seem intimidating, dark wall colours can make your space feel larger and more inviting.  Enhance this look with rich furnishings such as velvet, lamps and candles to create the ultimate winter escape.
Walls: Wenge AF-180
When deciding if a colour drenching effect works for your space, always consider the rooms' orientation.  North facing rooms often make colours look flatter and cooler compared to areas that receive direct southern light.  Therefore, opt for a more earthy or spice-toned brown - the undertones will bring a warmth to the space without feeling overbearing.
Also consider the size of the room you're decorating and the atmosphere you want to create - a large room with high ceilings and architectural details can more than handle this colour drenching look in a dark shade.

For a smaller space with a lower ceiling, consider incorporating colour in more subtle ways - such as with cushions, blankets and wall hangings.

Don't forget to experiment with different shades. When people think of the colour brown, their mind goes straight to the likes of chocolate, mud and chestnut.  However there is so much more to explore in this colour family. Softer shades such as tan, caramel and tobacco are often the most versatile and, although more subtle, will still instil an irresistible elegance into your home. 

Discover more of our popular brown shades on-line here. 
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