According to Pantone, 2021 is all about Ultimate Gray and Illuminating — but if you ask interior designers, there's an entirely different hue that's invading homes of late. Chocolate brown home decor is having a moment, and experts believe that's because the shade manages to be neutral while adding a little drama, depending on how you use it.
The color — which has also been popping up on the nails of nearly every influencer — may be especially hot right now, but it's also a forever classic for moody, elegant interiors. "I wouldn't call it a trend, but rather, a renaissance," says Lance Thomas of Thomas Guy Interiors. "I think people are realizing that gray isn't the only neutral one can use to ground a space. I think brown, as a neutral, can provide comfort and a humble confidence to a room. It warms up the room without screaming for attention; playing best-supporting actress to bold design choices elsewhere. Brown is the new gray."
Because of this versatility, even deep browns can be used in a variety of home decor styles and in any size room. For example, Cara Woodhouse of Cara Woodhouse Interiors recently designed a powder room for a client that was bathed in brown tones. "I have noticed that clients love creating a moody space with lots of character and this brown shade is the perfect play on that," she shares. And according to Woodhouse you can achieve the effect in big or small ways — from wall paint color to antiques. "I say don’t be afraid," she says. "You can start with just paint on the walls that can always be repainted! You don’t have to do an entire sofa but you can lighten things up with a white sofa and then add some fun accessories or some cozy velvet brown pillows!"
Want even more ideas for designer-approved ways to bring chocolate into your home? Ahead find expert tips for trying the hue on your walls, as an accent, or even as a dramatic statement piece, so there's a little something for every kind of space.
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Chocolate Brown Home Decor: For The Walls
Putting a deep, bold color like chocolate on your walls is admittedly intimidating. But if you're up to the challenge, designers recommend a few ways to do it well. Firstly, it's probably best used in a room that you want to feel a little more moody — like your home bar. "Shades of brown in a bar room (which has grown very popular this year due to the pandemic) create a feeling and a mood for space," says Woodhouse. "It definitely encapsulates you and creates an experience."
Worried about the size of the space? Don't be, says Rebecca Johnston of RJohnston Interiors, who explains that painting a small room dark actually ups the coziness factor. "Try painting a nook a dark color and make it a cozy space. Start small and don’t be afraid," she says. And Mel Bean of Mel Bean Interiors agrees. "Choose a space that is enclosed (a bedroom or home office) rather than an open space such as a combo living, dining, and kitchen, ideally with good natural light, and embrace chocolate in your wall color," the designer explains.
If you want to amp up the drama, follow Thomas' advice and choose a paint that has some sheen. "Sheen is everything," he says. "Imagine the warm hug of a brown wall color, but now in a lacquer finish. Then imagine it covering all of the walls, the moldings, and the ceiling for a monolithic effect. Don't be afraid to take it there."
Chocolate Brown Home Decor: For An Accent Piece
"Some easy ways to integrate chocolate tones without a major commitment are through layering accessories, such as pillows, throw blankets, and accessories into your existing interior," Bean shares. "A textural brown throw combined with patterned pillows with dominant browns could be the perfect tie-in to your existing color palette!"
Besides textiles, the designer suggests using wood as a way of introducing some chocolate accents. "Another alternative is to bring in wood elements that carry the rich brown through the room," she adds. "I have antique wood carved sculptures in my home that have this rich tone! It could also be a side table, wooden box, or bowls."
Finally, as Johnston reminds, don't forget your floors as a place to bring in this inviting shade. "Go with deep browns and warm greys in a rug to ground your space," she says.
Chocolate Brown Home Decor: For A Statement Piece
For those not afraid to go big, Thomas says an antique leather chair or ottoman is a great option. "There is no better piece of furniture than an old chocolate leather chair," he offers. "Its weathered and warm brown tones add a calming confidence while creating a beautiful tension to anything new in the room."
If leather doesn't work for your lifestyle, Bean explains that chocolate works well in a variety of other textiles, like a velvet sofa for example. "This can feel like a big commitment, but chocolate brown can make an incredible 'base' in upholstery to layer from and is really so versatile," she says. "A textural brown sofa can be layered with neutral textures and earth tones to be taken in the casual and natural direction so many love right now. But it can also be bold, with vibrant velvet pillows in tones that can be carried throughout the room to a more dramatic effect!"