Wednesday, March 04, 2009

New Decorating Crush: Brown!

The other day, I posted about this new brown lampshade:  
When I came home with it, I couldn't figure out how my usual overpowering need for white and otherwise light, airy colours was displaced by the need for something...brown.  

Brown, after all, is not my favorite colour.  And moreover, since it's spring (well, not in Canada anyway), you'd think I would have yellow or pink on my mind instead of dusty old brown.  But somehow, brown had worked its ubiquitous brown self into my head and I was seeing it everywhere!

If you asked me two weeks ago, I would have said that yes, I like brown, but in the form of pale linen browns, milky cafe au lait browns and dark brown furniture.  Period.  And other than those light shades, it would not have figured in my decor.

So I came home and looked through my files and realized that I had quietly developed a brown fixation in the last two weeks while looking at the rooms of James Michael Howard (see my previous post here).  His rooms feature some very serious browns (usually combined with white or light-coloured rooms), and I had fallen for this image specifically, with its elegant brown and white platters:
And then there was the brown and cream rug in this photo (below), which caught my eye for its elegant pattern and perfect brown-ness (I like these medium browns best).  And it looks so great with all the blue and white (my two favorite colours) and really grounds all that airiness. 
Then, there was the simple photo (below) that Catherine posted on her beautiful blog Simply Natural a short while ago.  I saved this picture and clearly the decorating part of my brain processed this image while the rest of me was asleep, because I did not consciously notice this brown lampshade until tonight!  I had liked the image simply because it reminded me of the colouring of Jim Howard's rooms and possessed the same quiet grace and inviting quality.
Then today at the office, I started daydreaming about the exquisite Gien earthenware I'd seen at Printemps in Paris (and have regretted not buying ever since).  I fell in love with the country images and the pretty browns and whites.  From their website, it appears they deliver!  I was mad about the tureen but cannot justify the price! 

And then I went through my files and found many brown and white rooms, proving that my unconscious mind has been way ahead of me for a while.  
The following two photos are from House to Home:  
I now notice the brown and white pillows but saved the photo originally for the linen curtains, white walls, and rustic styling!
Then this week Michele at My Notting Hill posted some exquisite photos of a Paris apartment (from this site) and I was smitten with the brown and white pillows on the bed (below).  These gentle brown and white pillows, combined with the white walls and blue bed are heavenly!

I think the combination of brown and white is the best way to use brown...
And here is another brown and white room, in a photo from OKA Direct, who have stunning rooms in their catalogue:
And then there are these two wonderful sofas from Restoration Hardware.  Note the conspicuously brown colour that my all-white-obsessed brain had deceptively admired.
Another perfect example of brown and white together, in this Shoot Factory picture:

The Lesson:

I've realized that not everything in a light and airy room needs to be light-coloured. Dark colours like brown, when used as accents, help to ground the rooms and actually highlight the light colours.  I can't believe it took me this long to learn this simple and obvious lesson!  I won't be painting my walls brown any time soon, but you can be sure I'll be bringing a few more brown accessories into my home!

I guess the Buddhists are right when they say that happiness (or is that enlightenment?) lies within.  All you need to do is pay attention.  The browns were there all along - I just wasn't seeing them with my heart. 
And if you still need proof, this room from Traditional Home proves that brown can be very, very sophisticated, especially when paired with the finest creams and white!


  1. Okay, now you've got me completely hooked on brown too! A very gorgeous post & a lovely insight into how your fixation with brown has emerged. Lee :)

  2. Brown is the perfect grounding colour, I think we use it without really realising, its almost subliminal.

  3. Yes, I see how just how your mind was hijacked. But what a lovely hijacking it was. You should have heard the gasp when I saw that Gien earthenware...I adore it!

    Perhaps brown is the new black?

  4. I agree with brown-it does help ground the space. It's warm, and not as stark as black (I do love black though too).I love the juxtapostion of the dark and the light. You're right that it makes the light stand out more.

  5. I love this post! You found beautiful photos (love the new lampshade), and I love your enthusiasm :). I don't know that I'd put 2 and 2 together either. Very enlightening...

  6. gorgeous blog

    love your rooms -

    i suffer from brutal headaches as well.

  7. We must be on the same wavelength. I had a similar revelation about my own taste. While I adore white rooms and pale serene spaces, I also love old, dark woods that have that polished sheen of age. So after trying forever to go all white, I finally blended the white and the brown and am finally, finally satisfied. At least, for today.

  8. Anonymous9:05 pm

    Beautiful posting and pictures. Do you know the manufactures name on the brown lampshade and where it can be found?

  9. Love all the brown. I will have some very cool news (that I think you'll love) to give you in a few weeks pertaining to this!!!

  10. Great post. I love brown - the the 'brown' of wood and wicker for starters. I have brown lampshades in my main bedroom, brown throw rugs on my couches, plus lots of brown in my accessories - I think you're right - it grounds all that airiness.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  11. Great post! Love those pillows from Notting Hill!

    Could you change my blog URL to:


    That should fix the fact that it's stuck on the worst image on my blog (which I have long since deleted because of this glitch).

    I would so appreciate it thanks!

  12. A tough of brown here and there can warm up a white space, especially the natural browns of wicker and warm wood. Great post LOVE your lamp. I like the brown shade with it.
    Ness xx

  13. I just love how your mind works, Terri, and your browns are perfect - Here's to your new found love, and for beautiful way it emerged!
    Great post!
    xo Isa

  14. Yes, you are right! I also like to add some dark accents in a light room. I love the contrast between dark and light. And every colour sparkle seen on a dark background like brown och black.

  15. oh my.. i love brown! favorite color!

  16. I have always been fiercy loyal to black - your post made me want to cheat with brown! :)

  17. Hi Terri:

    I just came across your blog about painting and it is so true what you had to say about whites. It is so terribly hard choosing the exact white isn't it?

    It looks like it turned out beautifully for you.

    I hope you don't mind if I add you to my bloglines list?

    Knitty, Vintage and Rosy