Trend Focus: 3 Easy Ways To Decorate A (New & Trendy) Brown Interior

Resort Style Master Bedroom

I’ve always got my eye on trend focus, so the idea of designing another brown interior did not excite me at all. The color forecasters were all saying it was coming back, but I didn’t believe it. Maybe I just didn’t want to go there, but here we are at the end of the year and brown is all the rage – again.

The thought of a brown interior may, rightfully, bring back some not-so-fond memories of the 1970s and 80s. A time in design that we may all like to forget. Seemingly calm and natural, interiors of that time were in retrospect, just flat, ugly, and fussy.

So, when I saw a trend notification earlier this year noting that brown would enjoy a resurrection in 2022, I naturally doubted anyone would take notice. I’ve waited well into the year to write this blog post as I wanted to see if, in fact, this burgeoning trend would actually come to fruition. To my surprise, it has and it’s actually gorgeous! So hang on and let me share with you just how to design with Millennial Brown.

The "Why" Of Adding Brown To Your Interior

An interior design of a living room in brown and neutral colors

Photo by Ellen Phillips Interiors

I can recall a revitalization of browns in the mid-1990s. Brown was touted as a fresh alternative to the morbid black that we all had in abundance in our closets. Admit it – you did and may still have! Brown was the new cool kid at that time. Brown suits, brown shoes, brown bags – brown was everywhere and the public ate it up.

This minor resurgence was limited mostly to clothing and textiles and really didn’t affect the interior market too heavily. This brown never stood up to the sophistication of black. It was a flat, solid, and muddy-looking brown with little excitement. Where black was elegant, brown came off as casual. 

That aspect is even more prevalent in home décor. Brown in décor represents farm, country, and hometown. There’s nothing sleek and upscale about it. So herein is the challenge: how can you add the new and trendy brown interior to your contemporary design?

Remember that contemporary doesn’t mean modern. You probably have a contemporary interior and may not realize it. Even with the overwhelming popularity of modern minimalism, where does brown fit in?

I’ve been actively watching this trend for the past six months or so, and while I haven’t seen an overwhelming resurgence of brown, this subdued hue is definitely making a mark in design.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Trendy New Millennial Brown

As I noted, the simple term “brown” conjures up some dark and muddy imagery from the past. However, what I’ve seen in the marketplace now isn’t that at all. Instead there is a fresh and revitalized color with a touch of rich, golden influences. This tone absolutely sings with the resurgence of brass that we’re also experiencing.

Take that golden brown and pair it with black accents and brass accessories and you get something that looks like this photo (below). It’s absolutely fabulous! 

The trick here is to keep the brown to a minimum and leave it as the accent in a light interior. Maybe just a few small accents OR perhaps just in the flooring or an amazing area rug. 

A photo of a white and brown living room interior

Photo by Collov Home Design 

There is even a more exciting wave of brown that works incredibly well with modern minimalism and that brown has a taupe undertone. It’s more of a taupe-brown. This Millennial Brown, as I like to call it, is also light in weight and pale in color which somehow makes it come off as fresh. How brown can ever feel fresh is beyond me, but it does!

Because of the lightness, this new brown is a perfect complement to black and grey as well. Hello modern!

Brown Interior Trends in the Marketplace

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, having an interior background in neutral colors with which you can adjust to your mood and the current season is key. This room, (below), shows a taupe-brown accent that pulls a bit more to the greys in the room adding a nice layering to the neutral color scheme.

If you have embraced the white and grey look, adding accents of this brown will be seamless.

Photo of a brown taupe and white bedroom

Photo by Ellen Phillips Interiors 


Keeping color to one wall is also key. If this room (shown above) had been painted with full brown walls, you can imagine the darkness it would create. Accent colors must be kept to a minimum when you are adding them to walls.

Don't Forget The Steadfast Brown Interior Color: Espresso

Espresso, (as a brown tone), is not new or trendy but needs to be mentioned here.

We began seeing a real power to espresso almost a decade ago and as with all new things, the public embraced it. Espresso cabinets, espresso hardwood flooring, and espresso woodwork were everywhere.

Photo by PC Photography 

It was beautiful then, and it’s beautiful now.

There is an elegance to espresso that we don’t find in other shades of brown. It pops off of white or beige walls with a profound impact. Where brown generally looks casual, espresso is elegant.

Many furniture distributors are still fabricating pieces in espresso and this finish will work well in many styles of interiors.

If you do opt to add espresso to your interior, I would advise against using black as they are so close in range. That said, black with a lighter (or golden) brown is a stunning combination.

With the color experts asserting that brown was an up-and-coming trend for 2022, it did take a while for the public to embrace it. Designers everywhere have worked hard to integrate this dependable color into accents, art, and fabrics. It’s been a bit of an uphill battle, but it is gorgeous and relevant to any interior style as we move further into the 2020s. Now, let’s just hope there isn’t a rebirth of avocado. You never know what the color experts have in mind!

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Ellen Phillips

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