Archive for the ‘Decorating with Brown’ Category

scan0001Turquoise – A Gem of a Colour!

Turquoise is the big “Trend” colour for decorating. It livens up brown and gives punch to a neutral room.

A list of some attractive variations of turquoise by various paint companies can be found below.

There are a whole group of colours that can be called turquoise so we are going to call it its colour name which is green-blue. This covers all the varieties of green-blues; lighter, darker, greener, bluer and green-blues that are muted with grey or brown to produce softer, less vibrant versions of turquoise.

If you have trouble deciding what paint chip is the green-blue of turquoise (rather than aqua which is blue-green), go first to the graduated paint chips that are found between the true green and the true blue chips. Beside the green chips you will find blueish green and as you move towards the blue chips, they become greenish blue. Pull out chips in this area and look at the middle colour on the chip. Choose a strip whose middle colour is the colour of a turquoise gem in a piece of southwestern jewelry. This is true turquoise.

You can now simply choose one of the colours on that graduated chip or you can go back the the selection of graduated chips and pick out strips to the left or right of it to find the colour you want. You will find a green-blue strip that is a little bluer, one that is a little greener and one  that looks a little greyer or less bright. The greyer ones are the muted colours and although they don’t look as pretty on the paint chip strip, they look really well on your walls, so don’t pass them by because the don’t look as attractive to you.

  • Tip: Turquoise greenish blues are often named for water, have a tropical theme, or a Mexican theme.

Here is a sampler of green-blues from various paint companies.

Light, clear colours:

  • CIL/Glidden/ICI – Gentle Breezes & Crystal Pool D44
  • Sico – Crystal Sea -6151-21, Waterborne 6150-11
  • Benjamin Moore – Fountain spout – 2059-70, Icy Moondrops 2056-70
  • Debbie Travis – Daydream CF8J

Light Muted Colours:

  • Sico – Bottled Water 6156-21,  Mexican Silver 6154-11
  • Benamin Moore – Icy Blue 2057-70 Ocean Breeze 2058-60
  • Valspar – Cool Elegance 7005-1
  • Behr – Fresh Day – ( a new product which is paint & primer combined)

Medium, Clear Colours:

  • CIL/Glidden/ICI – Tahoe Blue, Sea Fare D44
  • Benjamin Moore – Blue Seafoam 2056-60, Fairy Tale Bue 2055-50
  • Sico – Scintillating Blue 6052-31, Baha Mar 6051-41, Shimmering Water 6150-31

Medium Muted Colours:

  • Ralph Lauren – Light Sky 1881
  • Benjamin Moore –  Turquoise Powder 2057-50, Tranquil Blue 2051-50
  • CIL/Glidden/ICI – Skywatch SE28, Falling Rain SE29
  • Sico – Paris 1900 6155-41,  Pale Turquoise 6154-31

Deep, Clear Colours:

Note: Dark green-blues are actually teal blue not turquoise. I have chosen  medium dark colours that are a darker turquoise but not yet teal.

  • CIL/Glidden/ICI – Java Sea D44, Pacific Coast D45
  • Sico – Cayman Blue – 6151-52
  • Benjamin Moore –  Caribbean Blue Water 2055-30

Deep, Muted Colours:

  • CIL/Glidden/ICI – Riverboat Cruise – MC28
  • Sico – Ingonish Waves 6153-63

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Shake up Milk Chocolate!

Milk Chocolate is yet another difficult version of brown. It’s a colour that is neither here nor there. Milk Chocolate is  not dark or light but comes in a range of medium brown tints that can be a slightly pinkish brown or have a bit of a yellow tinge. It tends to be softer and have less impact than tan, yet its very neutrality makes it hard to decide what colours to use to liven it up or give it definition so that your room is not just a sea of uneasy neutrality.

Simple Accents:

  • Black is always a good choice for milk chocolate or any middle brown.  A true white will look good with milk chocolate and black.
  • Dark black-brown is also a good choice.
  • Black or dark brown can be paired with white or pale yellow-white with yellow browns. Use pale blush (pinkish) white with pinkish browns.

Contrasting colours that may accent your middle brown:

  • Red is the easiest choice to make chocolate brown come to life.
  • Deep orange-reds such as Brick or Hot Sauce can make a bright accent with a yellowish milk chocolate.
  • Ivory or muted pale yellow bridge the gap between the above orange-red yellow-brown combination.
  • Deep purplish reds such as deep wine colours can highlight pinkish milk chocolate.
  • Pair the wine with a blush white which is a very pale muted pink.
  • A true red goes with most middle browns well.
  • Pair it with white or even pale yellow.
  • The right dark purple would be an unexpected but interesting choice with any lighter milk chocolate. Purple will accent either pink or yellow nicely, so therefore is another choice but one that you may not have considered.
  • Blue can look really striking with middle browns but you will have to experiment.

Choosing colours to go with any middle brown requires some experimentation. Use a selection of paint chips on your middle brown fabric to see what colours you like. This will also help you decide on a paint colour as well as accent colours. Take a sample of your fabric or if all else fails, a cushion from the sofa or chair, to the fabric store and lay different floral and striped fabrics on it. You may not like the fabric itself, but the colours in the fabric will give you an excellent idea of what colours go with your particular middle brown. You can often find all your accent colours and a paint colour in a fabric pattern. Go lighter or darker with the colours, you don’t have to stick to the exact tint/shade, if fact you probably shouldn’t.

Note: If you are not fond if strong contrasts in your rooms or find you are unable to make colour decisions,  stay with tints and shades of your particular middle brown. Stick to quite light milk chocolate paint with possibly a dark chocolate accent wall. Black/very dark brown and white/off white are your easiest accent colours. If you find when you are done that it is too bland for you, throw in a little red; a cushion here, a vase there, until you have the effect that you want to achieve.

Tip: Another choice is to paint a single wall red. A red accent wall can give you all the contrast you need to make a statement. The rest of the wall area can be white, off-white, pale yellow-beige, pinkish beige or even grey-beige. Small touches of red can be added throughout the room if you wish but they are not absolutely necessary in many cases.

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In a Muddle over Middle Brown?

Don’t get burned using Tan!

Tan is a middle yellow-brown. It can be the hardest to work with to my mind. The accent colours are rather limited. It looks really good with black and off-white. I feel there should always be some black in a room whose predominant colour is tan. It enhances the tan and gives the room some definition.

Very dark black-brown or grey- brown and cream also look well. A very much darker or lighter version of the particular tan that you a trying to co-ordinate will look well too.  A true red can be an really good accent with tan, black & off-white if you are looking for a punch of colour. Deep, dark blues can be striking accents with strongly yellowish browns such as the tan colours. They are complementary colours so they make each other seem brighter. A second accent colour such as ivory would tone down the  strong contrast between the deep dark blue and the tan.

Colours that are easy to coordinate with Tan

  • Black and white
  • Black and cream
  • Dark brown and cream/ivory
  • True red, dark true red
  • Red, black and off-white/cream/ivory/pale yellow.
  • Deep, dark blue and ivory

Other colours may go well with your particular tan but it will require trial and error to establish which ones work. The single paint chips are a useful tool to try out different colours to use as accent colours. They give you a good idea of the colours of fabric that you could possibly use.

Next: Middle Brown – Milk Chocolate

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scan0003Cure the Brown Blahs!

Dark Brown Accent Colours

When you are decorating with brown, just look in your closet. What do you wear with those very dark brown pants? What do you wear with the tan ones, your beige ones? Are these pants rather neutral browns or are they strong on the red/pink tones or lean more to the yellowish? Look at the background colour in your brown to get a better idea of how to co-ordinate it with accent colours.

Dark black-brown – most light or bright colours will co-ordinate with dark brown. Greens are the hardest to use effectively with yellow-greens working the best, yellow through orange the easiest, reds and blues are in between. For a monocromatic look beige and white are easy. Just make sure your beiges are the same background colour – all yellowish or all pinkish or all neutral – kind of greyish beige like stone or cement.

Some turquoise combos for dark brown:

  • pale turquoise & pale yellow-green
  • turquoise & terra cotta
  • turquoise & yellow
  • turquoise and cream/ivory
  • turquoise, yellow-green & white
  • turquoise/green/white or yellow.

Single accent colours for dark brown:

  • pale blue is big this year
  • most yellows
  • aqua (aqua is blue-green)
  • turquoise (turquoise is green-blue): pale or bright
  • pink
  • oranges such as terra cotta, melon, rust or pumpkin
  • warm off- white, cream or ivory
  • beige
  • even a vibrant yellow-green such as lime green can look good if used in combination with other accents  such as in a turquoise/ lime green/white & brown stripe/geometric/floral or a group of cushions in each colour or in colour blocks of each colour.

Dark reddish brown

Reddish browns are strong colours so it is wise to use light colours, either soft or bright,  that go well with the red undertone. A strong reddish brown will make your accent colours actually look much brighter because of the complementary effect. If the  bright turquoise cushions you bought are not looking right to you it is probably because your upholstery is a strongly reddish brown and you need a less strong turquoise.  Going with lighter values in your accent colours will keep them as accent colours and therefore not take over the room.

  • aqua or light turquoise will work with dark reddish brown but they tend to need a second accent colour to highlight them such as ivory/cream/pale yellow.
  • pale  muted blue
  • Soft or vibrant yellow
  • Soft pink
  • light yellow-greens can make a good second accent colour with yellow or pink
  • ivory, cream, pale yellow also can be a second accent colour or the only accent colour

The illustration shows a dark reddish brown and a very black-brown as examples of the differences in browns and how the same accent colour would look on each. The background colour in the brown affects the look of the accent colour. Note that the same colours look more vibrant on the reddish brown than the black-brown. There are so many variations of any brown that you must experiment with variations of your chosen accent colours before you settle on the final choice.

Next: Middle browns – Milk Chocolate, Tan

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Accentuating Brown


Now that you’ve figured out what colour of brown that you are trying to co-ordinate, you can think about accents and paint colour. The best accent colours to go with your particular brown are dependent upon having nailed down your specific brown.

Warm reddish brown, warm golden brown, cool black brown, are at their best with different colours and intensities of colours.

Do you wish to make a strong accent statement or a subltle one? Do you want your colour scheme to have bright colours that pop or soft colours that accent slightly or monochromatic variations of your existing brown.

For example with a dark brown sofa:

If you want a lot of contrast and colour to brighten up your room, paint the room a soft, muted (brownish) yellow such as Benjamin Moore CC170 ‘Honey Harbour’ or a little brighter one CC216 ‘Buttermilk’ and get some cushions and accessories with bright turquoise and dark brown in them.  Terra-cotta accents add some interest with brown and turquoise.  Experiment with adding a little more soft, muted yellow here and there . This room will be bright and cheery.

If you like a peaceful, more monochromatic look, choose a selection of lighter values of your sofa colour for the walls and cushions, varying the textures and throw in a little black and cream or warm, off-white for contrast. If this look is too neutral for you, experiment with a touch of  colour by adding some pastel accents. Pale blue rather than turquoise, pale muted pink and pale creamy yellow will add some colour but maintain the calm and peaceful feel of the room. For your paint colour, you could go with a pale tint of one of the above mentioned colours or a totally different choice could be a neutral, pale brownish-grey such as  Sico 6213-21 ‘Whitish Clay’ for your walls which will blend well with many browns and yet not be beige.

With some browns, the walls would look great in a pale, soft blue or turquoise Benjamin Moore CC790 ‘Polar Sky for pale blue, Sico 6151-11 ‘White Coral Reef’ for turquoise. NOTE: I said PALE turquoise. Experience has taught me that you get really sick of bright turquoise paint really quickly. Go for bright turquoise if you enjoy repainting frequently but if you want a colour that you can live with for a few years – keep it pale.

In the illustration I have tried to show some of the combinations that would look good with different kinds of brown. The paint program limits choosing the exact colour that I want to show but it should give you some ideas.

  • Tip: For thoses who haven’t read the articles on Colour Basics, muted & toned colours are colours that are softened or ‘muted’ with grey or brown or the colour’s complement. These colours are much easier to decorate around and live with. They provide a backdrop rather than a statement.

These are just examples. You need to experiment with colours to get just the right accent colour. Using paint chips as colour swatches really helps you figure out what looks good and what doesn’t.

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scan0025OK – Now What do I Do?

I think a lot of people recently purchased a brown sofa thinking that it would go with everything and are having a great deal of trouble getting it to go with anything.

There seem to be a lot of questions about decorating with brown judging by the search engine terms that have brought people to my blog. People want to know what goes with brown, the complementary colour of brown, decorating with chocolate brown, brown and turquoise and a lot more. To answer these questions, you have to understand what brown is and then it becomes easier.

First, as explained in the previous article, brown is created when you mix equal parts of all three primary colours. This creates a middle ‘mud’ brown. Then brown gets more complicated.

When brown is found on a colour wheel, it is placed at the centre of it. This is because brown is made up of all the colours on the wheel. This means it has no complementary colour because nothing is opposite it, it is in the centre. This also means, technically speaking, that all colours go with brown.

This is true with a perfectly balanced brown, but most browns have more of one colour than another and also have different values. (lightness or darkness)

  • If you lighten it with white you get beige, if you darken it with black, you get a dark black-brown.
  • If it has more yellow in it than red or blue, you get a warm, golden brown.
  • If it has more red in it than yellow or blue, you get a warm, reddish-brown or orangy-brown.
  • If it has more blue in it than yellow or red, you get a cool, dark black-brown or even slightly greenish brown.
  • Any of the above browns could range from a very light version to a very dark version, just like on a graduated paint chip.

Therefore what goes with brown depends upon what kind of brown you are talking about and whether you want strong, contrasting accents or you would rather go with a monochromatic look.

Next article:  How to choose an accent colour for your particular brown.

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