When the world around us is uncertain, one trend has arisen multiple times across the decades, says interior designer and stylist for Dulux, Bree Leech. “Traditionally browns, beiges – all these nurturing and earthy colours – are ones we tend to be drawn to in times of uncertainty. So it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a resurgence of those particular hues now.
We were already drifting towards warmer colour palettes, but the turbulence of the last few years – what with bushfires, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis – has accelerated that trend. “And particular browns, like chocolate, can have a nostalgic feel, depending on how you use them. There’s a psychological aspect – they’re very grounding colours which make us feel safe and secure.”
So how can you embrace this warm autumnal trend without fearing your home will feel too dark, drab or overly masculine? Read on for Bree’s fail-safe guide.
Chances are you’ve already got plenty of shades of brown in your home. Be it a timber dining table or set of shelves, a leather occasional chair or fabric sofa and anything in between, bringing a sense of warmth is all about the little touches you can add through a few clever, tactile additions.
“Many of us have neutral larger furniture pieces so we can add things like soft furnishings, cushions and throws,” suggests Bree. “Bring in your chunky knits to make you feel cosier. Think about adding natural fabrics like hemp or bamboo which add texture. Or layer an extra rug over your summer one that is plush and feels great under foot.” These can then either be swapped back out in the warmer months or added to as the desire arises.
Want to avoid looking like you’re in a man cave or a boardroom? Choose rounded, softer pieces of furniture to add warmth and femininity. “More curved forms help break that masculinity,” says Bree. “We’re seeing a lot of great curved modular sofas, occasional chairs now have a cute, chunky vibe to them.” Shape also applies when it comes to fabric.
“If you have leather upholstery or cushions, warm it up by adding soft furnishings that have great texture, like shearling or bouclé. That will give you warmth and layers.”
Shades of brown
To help make your brown hues really shine, there are a few ways you can go, says Bree. “You can keep it quite tonal and have deeper browns, then go into beiges but keep it warm by adding golden tones and creams. Also, to keep it on the warmer side, pink works beautifully with brown. I love teal blue against brown – it adds a real freshness, especially with the chocolate browns.”
“Paint is a great way to make a seasonal change,” says Bree. “You can pick areas which are easy to paint in a weekend – or even a day. That gives you the confidence to change back to a different colour in the warmer months.” Having said that, Bree stresses that sometimes going all-in is the best change you can make.
“I’ve seen beautiful spaces where all four walls are in a gorgeous chocolate brown and if you’re ready to embrace that mood it really does create such a great feel. If you are going to add a richer brown to a wall, it’s almost better to have it feel quite immersive rather than just choosing one section and then having the rest of it white. I don’t think you get the full benefit when you do that.”
Handcrafted items not only help support local artisans but bring a dynamic personal touch to your home design. “Top your tables with handmade ceramics which are often in earthy tones,” Bree says. “And autumn and winter foliage is a great way to bring organic elements in which have a tactile feel and work extremely well with these palettes.