Goodbye, Grey: Here’s Why Brown Is The New Neutral You Need To Embrace

By Olivia Emily

3 months ago

It’s over for you, greige


Recent home interiors have been haunted by a certain gloomy shade: grey, and her equally gloomy cousin, greige. But as 2024 really springs into action, we come bearing wonderful news. Grey is officially over and – taking inspiration from the fashion spheres – our attention is turning towards a different, more intriguing neutral shade: brown interiors.

 

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It’s Official: Brown Is The New Grey

According to sofa specialists ScS, half of Brits would steer clear of grey when refreshing their homes, with the colour being labelled ‘outdated’. You know the look: grey walls, grey sofas, crushed velvet cushions, a hint of purple… It certainly speaks to an era. And that era, we’re grateful to say, is over.

‘One of the key trends for this year is embracing colour and moving away from minimal white and grey interiors,’ says Victoria Foster, Interior Stylist at ScS. ‘For those still keen to keep some neutrality in their colour scheme, brown is the perfect choice. Complimentary to most colours and timeless, brown adds a warmth to the home that grey and white lack.

‘For those who have gone ‘all in’ on the grey trend, you may find that your interiors lack depth and character,’ Victoria adds. ‘Our association with grey is often of stability – it is solid and calming which is favourable in certain areas of the home, but shades of grey can often feel uninspiring, cold and flat.

‘That being said, grey as a colour will never be completely “out of style” and is likely to have a resurgence at some point due to its versatility and practical properties,’ Victoria admits. ‘It is a great colour choice in certain settings and rooms of the home such as kitchens and bathrooms, but best paired with warm colours to balance out its cool tone.’

Why Brown?

Grey disappearing from our living spaces is all well and good, but why should brown replace it? ‘As is often the case, interior styles follow fashion trends, so where we saw shades of chocolate brown on SS24 runways at the end of 2023, we’re now seeing this trickle into our homes, too,’ explains Victoria. ‘The retro trends of the 1970s are also inspiring lots of homes this year, with glamorous dark mahogany shades, structured velvet sofas and brass accents making their way back into our homes. Different shades of brown are a perfect complement to the rich wood tones that are prominent once again.

‘Earthy colours and fabrics are also trending, of which brown is an anchor colour,’ Victoria adds. ‘Lots of brown shades can be considered “earthy” – from light beiges to clay and mocha. All of which pair well with other earthy colours such as dark green, burnt orange and deep blue. This trend works best when you accessorise with natural textures – think wool, leather and wood.’

Brown is also seen in lots of other interior trends as of late, including recreations of Palm Royale‘s ’60s interiors and Plaza Suite‘s lavish hotel room, as well as bookshelf wealth and tropical modernism.

A cosy room with a sofa, lampshade and large bookshelf

The ‘Bookshelf Wealth’ interiors trend also often incorporates brown.

How To Incorporate It Into Your Home

If you’re looking to embrace the popular colour drenching trend, brown is still your friend. ‘Monochromatic colour schemes are a trend in themselves this year, but it’s one that works especially well with brown,’ says Victoria. ‘Mixing light beige shades with darker, rich tones creates a really soft but impactful and cosy vibe. To keep monochrome interesting, mix materials and textures when it comes to your soft furnishings – by opting for velvet, boucle and rattan for things like your sofas, curtains and rugs.’

Likewise, brown is a great neutral colour to help other colours pop. ‘Brown is easily paired with various colours but some of my favourite combinations are with rich shades of green, warm oranges or pale blues,’ says Victoria. ‘Brown also pairs beautifully well with pink as it sits opposite pink and red on the colour wheel. I’d suggest pairing dark shades of brown with light, warm shades of pink and light beige with magenta for maximum contrast and impact.’

 

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What Not To Do

‘In terms of colours to avoid mixing with brown, I’d suggest being cautious of black-brown combinations,’ says Victoria, ‘though you don’t have to steer clear of them completely. Camel and espresso shades pair well with black, but warmer undertones can clash with a flat “true black” tone.

‘I’d also avoid mixing brown with purple, unless you’re using a light shade of either one as these are strong colours that don’t always complement each other,’ Victoria adds.

Inspiration

A brown living room designed by Martin Kemp

Martin Kemp Design

This calming living room offers an oasis of calm secluded from the bustling streets below, drawing on naturally toned textiles and wallpapers, especially brown tones. martinkempdesign.com

A dining room area that opens into the garden

Yiangou

Keep it utterly simple with brown in its purest form, wood, paired only with white and the vibrance of nature – like this sun-filled dining space designed by Yiangou. Inject pops of colour through textiles, wall art and lampshades. yiangou.com

A living room decorated in brown and neutral interiors

Taylor Howes

Push brown into its sister shade – terracotta – to add a splash of colour that maintains the colour drenching effect. We love this living room by Taylor Howes, which keeps everything natural, with sunnier hints of orange. taylorhowes.co.uk

Shop The Edit

A brown rug designed by Dierdre Dyson