Brown Town: Who Doesn’t Love Chocolate?
by Miranda Lipton
As a natural, earthy, and compassionate color, brown is up-and-coming and is currently being used in varying features and accents inside the home and out. Just like any other color, shades of brown vary vastly, in this case from light and airy to rich and intense. Each shade is popular for its own unique purpose, and, our color experts tell us, these purposes are changing.
As with many colors, people are turning to brown for comfort. “After 9/11, the two colors that bubbled to the surface were blush pink and chocolate brown, because they are cocooning, comforting colors that the nation craved,” said Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager. “This combination continues to be popular, as brown has always been a complement to warm-toned colors in homes. A trending color combination is Rich Mocha (DEA159) with Rustique (DE5149).
Rich dark browns continue to be a unique way to highlight ceilings, and is a timeless color for furnishings, adds Sara McLean, color marketing manager at Dunn-Edwards. “This allows for a greater range of design play for the walls,” she says. “Since brown touches on so many trends from urban gardening to global travel, it’s a great color to build off of. I love seeing dark chocolate in a den or living room, a formal area where the drama can really be highlighted.”
Brown in the Balance
Although preferred color combinations vary between companies and color experts, there is a consensus that the balance of colors is your key to success. Ashley Banbury, senior designer, color & design for Pratt & Lambert, weighs in that balance is what it’s all about. “Pairing warm tones with sophisticated blues and grays is a fantastic way to incorporate warm and cool into your space,” she said. Ashley suggests pairing Iron Ore (414F) with Cowboy Boots (330F) for interior and exterior use.
“Possibilities are endless when it comes to browns—it is a color inspired by nature and is therefore always appropriate for use in both exterior and interior spaces,” says Ashley. However, there is often a difference in how it is used on interiors versus exteriors. Taupe is commonly seen on interior walls and accessories, while copper browns are often used in textiles and lighting. For exterior projects, Banbury points to chocolates flavoring trim, shutters and doors in order to accent the main body color.
Sara McLean also speaks to the use of brown on trim and doors, especially when paired with grays. “We are seeing exterior browns paired with grays—both light and charcoal—keeping in line with the continued interest in grays and modern-style homes. Natural wood accents such as shingles and front doors look great for a modern farmhouse or bungalow,” Sara describes. “Another trending use on exteriors is brown trim instead of black trim paired with white or off-white body colors. This adds an extra richness to the home palette. If the home has a front porch, painting the porch ceiling dark brown against white trim and charcoal, sage green, or indigo blue brightens and modernizes a bungalow.”
Don’t Hide Your Tan
PPG’s Dee Schlotter emphasizes the use of tan, especially when paired with greens. “Green and brown paint colors are preferred along the U.S. Gulf Coast because the hues provide a nice contrast to the coastal colors in the region,” she explains. “The colors feel sturdy in these states, which have a lot of character and other natural terrain.”
In addition to the conventional uses of brown, you can recommend the color as a way to highlight a room or a particular feature. “Browns are so versatile, they really can be used anywhere,” said Pratt & Lambert’s Banbury.
“Espresso brown can be a dramatic backdrop to bold tropical colors like citrus greens or papaya orange. If you are seeking a cozy feel, paint your entire room a rich brown, including the 5th wall—the ceiling!”
Schlotter shares similar thoughts on utilizing dark colors on ceilings. “Deep hues can easily draw attention to an otherwise plain ceiling, and if painted on one wall in a hallway, can make a space look bigger,” she said. Certain combinations of browns paired with lighter neutral tones accentuate these spaces even more. “PPG Paints Synchronicity (PPG1021-2), a gray brown, as well as Thunderbird (PPG1021-5), a mocha brown, pair excellently with the deepened indigo undertones of Black Flame, our 2018 Color of the Year. PPG Paints has a gorgeous Heartland collection that pairs varying tones of brown with earthy greens, warm-toned whites and muted golden tones. Brown hues like PPG Paints Rock Slide (PPG1022-4) and Eiffel Tower (PPG1022-5) provide a grounding complement to green and dusty yellow shades such as PPG Paints Whispering Pine (PPG1125-3), Hemlock (PPG1125-5) and Dusty Yellow (PPG1209-3).”
Since browns are gaining in popularity, you can show your customers that by choosing it they are moving toward trend rather than away from it. Now thanks to brown, they can be those Joneses everyone wants to keep up with.