Are interiors getting warmer?  Are we moving away from whites and grays, so that updating brown interiors is no longer necessary? Is brown actually (gasp!) … coming back?


I’ve seen a few blogs suggesting this, but I think some of them are misinterpreting color trends right now.


One train of thought suggests we’re going back to browns because we’re seeing more stained wood finishes in interiors.  I’ll address updating brown kitchens later (and discuss instances where brown is being brought back IN to a kitchen), but for now, suffice to say that we’re not seeing floor-to-ceiling stained wood kitchens anymore.  (I had to search through many, many pages on Houzz and Pinterest to even find one!)  We may crave a little more of nature with organic materials like wood, but the natural materials are used very selectively (perhaps a wood countertop on an island, or a hand-made dining table as in the photo above).  Or, the woods are much cooler in tone.  (This is true for stone as well, where we’re seeing gray rather than pink travertine or tile – and I haven’t seen a true brown granite installed in ages!)

What about interiors like living rooms, where white is no longer a dominant player?  What are we seeing instead?


For those homeowners who love richer, deeper, cozier colors, the trend is toward warmer, more saturated versions of grays, greens, or blues – with an occasional outlier like pink thrown in – but NOT browns.  Case in point:

Sherwin Williams’ latest newsletter shows off their new designer paint palette for West Elm, with a few photos of some lovely interiors and paint chips of the new colors in the collection:


Sherwin Williams Fall Winter 2017 color palette for West Elm, examples


West Elm color collection Sherwin Williams, Fall Winter 2017, with good options for updating brown interiors


Notice that there are no tans, no golds, no burgundies. There is only one brown to speak of (oddly named “Hammered Silver”), and it is a very cool version of brown – almost a dark mushroom, really.  There is also only one beige (also oddly named as “Modern Gray”), but it doesn’t have the warmer, earthier tones  that were popular during the Brown Phase of the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

(The more muted tones here seem very British to me… they remind me of smoky rooms, wool sweaters, tweed jackets.  Or maybe, “wintry French”.  Far different from the old Tuscan tones of golden tan, yellow ochre, russet red.)


The take-away here?  If you truly love your Tuscan-brown living room that you took great care to design twenty years ago, then I for one will not make you change it.  However, if you’re on the fence about updating, white really isn’t your thing, and you’re just hoping that in another year or two the browns will come back, I will probably be the bearer of bad news. Design constantly cycles, but never truly repeats itself. (I’m sure we’ll never again see avocado- or gold-colored appliances, for example.)  Even with the increase of more saturated, cozier interiors, a 1990’s Tuscan-brown living room will still seem outdated.


But here’s the good news: updating brown rooms to the newer, “cooler” cozy colors will feel much friendlier to you and be easier to accomplish.  The colors above are all great options for updating brown interior painting.  You can keep the brown leather sofa, just paint the tan walls in a color like “Pussywillow”.  Keep the golden-tan armchair – but please get rid of the burgundy-and-bronze drapes!  (I list a few other offenders here.)  Replace any red or bronze accessories with muted blues, creams, or pewters.

You can do this!  😀

And we’re always here to help.

– Lisa and the rest of us color fanatics at Paper Moon Painting