Brown sofas are a practical living room staple; so many retailers sell them, and many of us buy them. This popular neutral furnishing meshes well with most color palettes and design styles. Plus, dark brown is one of the most forgiving upholstery colors for dirt and stains, making it a smart choice for those with pets or young children. However, one complaint that often accompanies brown sofas is that the color is blah or boring, but that's not true. Check out these ideas about what color goes with a brown leather (or fabric) sofa and other styling tips to give this classic furniture piece a fresh, modern look.
1. Embrace earth tones.
Lean into an organic look by pairing a brown sofa with earth tones. Colors like olive green, watery blue, terra-cotta, and rusty red all work well with brown because they're often seen together in nature. So choose an earthy wall color and decorate your brown sofa with neutral pillows or throws for a warm, inviting living room. Pillows with subtle texture (like this oversize ombre Better Homes & Gardens pillow, $25, Walmart) help create a cohesive and interesting collection of neutrals on a brown sofa.
2. Choose warm accent colors.
Start with wood tones if you're unsure what color goes with a brown leather sofa. Brown is a warm neutral that plays well with wood and other warm hues (think: the typical fall colors). Choose accents in autumn colors such as deep red, mustard yellow, or burnt sienna that pair naturally with a brown sofa. These homeowners used white accent furniture and lots of pillows to balance out the chocolaty-brown seating.
3. Contrast a brown sofa with cool blues.
Most shades of brown have warm undertones, which means cool-colored accents often pair nicely with brown sofas. Blue throws and pillows, for example, can help bring out the richness in a dark brown leather couch. In this living room, walls wrapped in wood paneling and a variety of plush textures (supplied by faux-fur and fringe details on blue and cream-colored pillows and rugs) layer in coziness. Drape fluffy cream throws like this chenille Better Homes & Gardens blanket ($23, Walmart) on accent chairs to create an inviting space.
4. Opt for a bold wall color.
For a bold design statement, play up the impact of a brown sofa by choosing a saturated wall color. This space features vibrant emerald green walls that make the sofa's caramel tones pop. A variety of leafy houseplants add to the room's refreshing style.
5. Warm up an all-white room.
This neutral space might look cold and uninviting without the comfy brown sofa to warm things up. A mix of reds, yellows, and greens appears on the table accessories, throw pillows, and furnishings to inject small pops of color into the room. The all-white walls crisply contrast the sofa's rich color and rounded edges.
6. Make a statement with a brown sofa.
A dark brown leather couch can be a dramatic statement piece, especially in a tufted Chesterfield style. Funky retro furniture, including checkered slipper chairs and a midcentury-modern console table, adds interest to the room's white paneled walls. Buffalo-check plaid fabric complements the brown sofa's traditional style for a cohesive look.
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7. Redirect the focus.
Take the focus off a brown sofa with a striking wall treatment. A two-tone paint job or interesting panel details can quickly add distinction to living room walls. This space combines two types of millwork (square paneling and a board-and-batten treatment) in contrasting colors to turn walls into a focal point.
8. Play up antique furniture.
If you found your sofa at a flea market or vintage store, let it set the tone for the rest of the room. A well-worn brown couch will work well with antique wood decor or distress-painted accent furniture. Choose pillows and throw blankets in classic fabrics like linen to complete the vintage look.
9. Repeat brown tones.
To ensure your light-brown leather sofa doesn't look out of place, repeat its material elsewhere in the room. Here, a brown leather pouf sits across from the brown sofa to tie the look together. Other brown and natural wood accents on the walls and surfaces keep the theme going.
10. Decorate in traditional style.
In this room, a dark brown leather couch with tufting pairs well with traditional-style furnishings and fixtures for an updated but classic look. In this cozy library, built-ins contain stacks of vintage books that coordinate with a red rug underneath the brown sofa. Deep blue walls feature a glossy sheen that creates a jewel-like effect.
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11. Mix and match patterns.
Brown sofas aren't limited to a single decorating style. Pair one with eclectic patterns and prints for a global-inspired ambience. In this space, framed fabric picks up the beige hues of the sofa while coordinating with pink pillows and decor accents. The wide variety of patterns plays well together because of the coordinated color palette.
12. Bring in calming blues and greens.
Brown sofas work well with cool blues and greens. Use accent chairs, window panels, or colorful pillows in a bold pattern (try a geometric shape like diamonds) in cooler tones to add calming color to a space anchored by a brown sofa. The furniture is paired with decorative wallpaper in an abstract blue pattern in this living room.
13. Brighten up a dark brown couch.
A dark brown microfiber couch won't dominate a space when surrounded by lighter elements. First, paint walls a pale neutral, then choose artwork, accessories, and accent furniture in lighter or colorful hues to balance the darkness of the furniture. Light gray walls, white trim, and cream-colored accents keep the couch from feeling too heavy.
14. Juxtapose a brown sofa with white.
Another way to prevent a brown leather couch from overwhelming a room is to make almost everything else white. It takes a lot of a lighter color to balance a very dark one, so feel free to go all-white if you'd like. Crisp white ceilings, walls, and floors help keep this cozy nook light and bright.
15. Choose nature-inspired colors.
Look to the outdoors to inspire color schemes for living rooms with dark brown sofas. This room's brown sofa looks right at home next to other nature-inspired colors, such as the orange pouf, earthy green coffee table, and a set of lively patterned pillows. Natural textures in the woven valances, stone fireplace and wood floors help ground the design.
16. Work a brown sofa into a colorful palette.
Temper the strong color of a brown sofa with plenty of bright hues and eye-catching patterns. Sea-foam green walls form the foundation of this living room's colorful palette. Decorative items like coffee table accessories, throw pillows, and an area rug adds more vibrant colors that help minimize the sofa's dark upholstery. For high-traffic areas, choose a washable area rug like this distressed Persian rug ($89, Walmart).
17. Emphasize a brown couch.
There's no need to hide your brown leather couch or cover it up. You can also choose to highlight its rich cocoa color with a few easy styling tips. Add accent chairs that pick up the hue of the existing dark sofa, then layer the sofa with decorative pillows to lighten the visual weight of darker furniture.
18. Go all-in on rich brown tones.
Work with your existing brown sofa instead of against it by painting the walls a similar color. Then, highlight the contrast between light and dark by painting the ceilings and trim bright white. The result is a stately room with bold, rich tones.