Decorating With A Brown Sofa

In a time where light and bright is the most trending home decor style, it can feel a little defeating having to decorate around a brown sofa. The reality is, what’s trending doesn’t matter as much as what you like and what’s functional for your home. Brown sofas are really popular because they can hide blemishes which makes them family-friendly. Brown is also a neutral color so brown sofas work in a lot of spaces. If you are struggling to decorate with a brown sofa then read on, this post is for you.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa

How to Decorate with a Brown Sofa

The biggest obstacle decorating with a brown sofa can cause is making a space feel too dark. If you have dark walls, rugs, accents, and then a brown sofa – the space will feel dark. It’s important to add elements that can counterbalance the darkness of a brown sofa. Accents such as throw pillows, coffee tables, side tables, and drapes can all help bring a feeling of lightness to a space and distract from the dark brown sofa. Let’s talk about some ways you can decorate with your brown sofa.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Balance a dark sofa by letting the light in

In the image above you can see the brightest spot in this room is through that big bright window. It balances the brown sofa, and dark rug perfectly. If your window coverings are completely blocking the light that is trying to beam through, consider removing the blinds or opening the drapes and let the light shine in.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


The window coverings should be light

Everything we’re discussing here has to do with balance. A space feels dark if everything in it is dark. If you can balance it by having one big dark element but lighting up the room with the rest of the elements then you have a well-balanced space. In the room pictured above – you can see to the right that the wall color is dark blue but the drapes that frame the big windows are a nice creamy color. Imagine if the drapes were dark in color – it would completely throw off the balance of the space.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


A light wall color can balance a dark brown sofa

Brown leather sofas are really popular and are great for family homes. Wall colors matter to a degree when it comes to creating a balance. In the space above the light walls create a crisp palette. Decorating around a brown sofa can be challenging but one simple way to tackle that is to simply use as many light accents as you can.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Accent colors are important

White walls create a fresh palette but blue and aqua accents work well with a brown sofa. Consider pops of color like aqua, orange, or yellow to bring the space together.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


For a more sophisticated look, stick with the tone on tone of creamy beige and browns.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


I mentioned adding accent colors to the brown sofa that complements the brown like orange and yellow – it works really well here.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


I love the balance the blue walls, brown sofa, and white accents achieve here. The chocolate brown sofa is as dark as you could imagine but the space overall is very light and bright. Consider adding a textured rug and light accent pillows to your space.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Bring visual interest to the space with color and patterns that draw your eye around the room. This space is so beautiful – you can’t help but be drawn to all of the patterns that distract from the brown sofa. The sofa here is more of an accent than it is the main piece.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Like the last room above, this one uses patterns in the rug to bring the space together. The black and white rug, blue accent pillows, and the white accent chair all work together to achieve a really nice light and bright balance to this space.

I hope these examples show you that decorating with a brown sofa doesn’t have to be all dark and suited for a professor’s office. You can achieve a well-balanced, light, and bright space decorating around the sofa you have, even with the decor you have!

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  1. http://thecapeonthecorner.blogspot.com/2014/04/step-away-from-living-room-another-redo.html

    i have the same problem! i have moved on from the brown and blue theme, and i wanted something more collected and colorful and brighter, but it still needed to work with my brown sofa. finally after many curtain changes and pillow changes, it really was the rug that changed the space. i feel like the sofa takes a back seat now…tell me what you think! and good luck!!

    1. Wow! Yes the colors really brighten up the space and the rug is so light that it really distracts from the harsh sofa! Wonderful job!! I would love to have a nice light and luxurious rug like that but I’m terrified with a 2 year old!

  2. I too have a brown sofa and rocker recliner. But my walls are cream, I have some painted white end tables, white fireplace and surround ….So the brown anchors the room. Keeps it grounded instead of being too ‘floaty ‘. With this neutral backdrop, I am free to add seasonal pops of colours all year long. Luv my brown sofa and recliner . Plus leather is easy to clean ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh yes, leather is great for cleaning! My sectional isn’t leather – so it’s not as east to clean. I think if I had more windows in my living room I could make it feel brighter as well. I do love that with a neutral palate you can change up your colors.

  3. I have the same problem! Our sofa is brown and we won’t be replacing it any time soon. I have to make it work so I’ve been adding gray and blue to lighten up the room. Painting the walls a light gray made a HUGE difference! It’s still a work in progress but here is what the room looks like now….


    Maybe this will give you some more ideas on working with your brown sofa. Can’t wait to see what you do!

    1. Lori, your space looks great! What color are your walls? It definitely doesn’t look dark and dreary like mine does. Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. The color is “Bay Sands” and I always use Valspar paint from Lowe’s. It’s the perfect gray color and I’ve used it in my master bedroom and bathroom and also the kitchen and finished basement.

        The walls in my family room were a beige color and the room seemed so dark with the brown sofa. Painting the room in Bay Sands really lightened it up!

        1. Stumbled upon this post while looking for a great gray wall color to use with my brown couch. Would love to access your blog, Lori & see your post.

    1. I think so too Marty! I think I might have to repaint, and go even lighter. Another challenge that I’m struggling with is that I painted my media center navy blue, it’s such a large piece of furniture that having it dark with the dark sofa – it’s just way too dark in the space. I say I struggle with it – but mainly I struggle with the idea of having to paint it again ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you are having a great day!

  4. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. I was floored when my husband gave me the go ahead to replace our couch but after thinking about it and all the furnishing we still need to do, I’m gonna just make do with what we have. I don’t want to have any furniture I care too much about keeping clean with little ones around. Maybe in a different life season.

  5. We actually moved last year and a friend of a friend was getting rid of their brown pleather sofa so we got it for free.
    I had the same feelings, I wanted something lighter, but the sofa was almost new and the price tag was unbeatable.
    I had to motivate myself so I pinned many of the same things too! ๐Ÿ™‚ (http://www.pinterest.com/irynam/interior-living/)

    And I have to say, I have learned to love it! This faux shipskin rug looks great on the ottoman http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30229077/. Anything white/light really pops next to the sofa. We’re actually int he process of decorating now.

  6. Please, oh please don’t get rid of a brown sofa. I so wish I had acquired my brown leather sofa much sooner! There is not a style that doesn’t work, not a color that doesn’t work, not a location it doesn’t work. Since a sofa is usually a large expenditure it is fairly easy to replace other elements. My sofa has lived from Maryland to Florida. I works anywhere, anytime. Does it sound like I am an advocate for brown sofas!? Just look at those great photos for wonderful examples of versatility!

  7. It’s like we’re living the same life with a brown sofa. I so badly want new furniture, but the way our dog and kid treat it, we’d be idiots to buy new furniture right now! This is a great post! Thanks for the inspiration!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Right?? The yogurt hands are the worst for me. All of a sudden I look over and there is a tiny handprint of yogurt on my sofa. Good times with a toddler!! One day I will have the perfect greige sofaโ€ฆ one day!!

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing this. I swear I had the same problem and brought changing sofas to my husband as well. Immediately “dollar signs” haha. This gives me tons of ideas.

  11. We just bought the most comfortable sectional that is perfect in every way, except it only came in brown. I am slowly coming to terms with it and your post really helped!

  12. We’ve just replaced our cream fabric sofa for a brown leather sofa and I have to say I’d never go back! The cream was great at being unobtrusive and looked brilliant new but a combination of cats with mucky paws and us eating/sleeping/sitting on it with jeans on meant it soon turned a more sludgy colour that never quite looked the same again. Not at all the look I was going for! We don’t have kids but I imagine they are just going to destroy a light coloured sofa even more than 2 adults and 3 cats.

    I think the versatility of brown sofas means that whatever look you’re aiming for you can achieve. We’re going for a rustic theme in our lounge but I know that if (more like when!) I get bored of that switching it up to something fresh and bright or luxe will be simple without forking out on a new sofa!

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  14. Finally!!! I also have a huge brown sofa which I don’t feel matches up with our style anymore. But we also have a toddler who loves little messes and it is so easy to clean up the sofa we have right now, and not worth the money getting a new one, out toddler will wreck within a week.

    And I have been searching for ideas like this and finally came across something that is not boring, and grandpa-ish, and dreary looking!!

  15. I sort of can’t believe I found this article. I literally daydream about getting a new couch because mine is chocolate brown and all the things I tend to gravitate toward on Pinterest or Houzz are light– shame on me for letting pictures make me unsatisfied, but YAY for you sharing this ๐Ÿ™‚ I saw a lot of light blue in those pics to go with it– maybe that’s a place to start.

  16. I have a brown sofa and love seat that are relatively new. I two small boys and a dog so anything light colored is out of the question. I hate how basic the living room is and your blog shed some light on my problem. I have too many dark solid colors and nothing to balance it. We have one solid charcoal wall with the other three painted a dark cream, dark wood furniture and solid charcoal curtains. It’s definitely time for a change- I found some ideas here to bring an airy and personal feel to the room.

  17. I just purchased a new ground floor flat (apartment) and I am excited to start decorating and buying furniture! we just bought a fudge colour sofa and I am struggling to think of colours which would go with it! I am looking for my living room to be light and airy so light colours would be the way to go. if anyone could help with ideas I would be grateful!

    1. Brown is a good neutral but it does lean dark. I typically learn towards light and airy with a coastal vibe so I love light blues, whites, and greens. My favorite color combo is always navy and white but I’m not sure that would go well with the chocolate brown.

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  19. Hey Chelsea. I have a small 1bd apt of w floor. Living/dinning room, full bath, and kitchen downstairs and bedroom upstairs. My living room has this awful blue carpet and I already had brown couches. To put them together I added yellow patterned curtain to the only window in the room which is on the dinning room side. I have 2 art pices on the walls on the living room side. One is very colorful with all sorts of colors and the other is a turquoise color. Am I using to many different colors? Not only that how do make both room blend without it looking to much? And last but not least if the different colors are ok what other color can as a not her pillow on the couch?
    Love you ideas hope you can help.
    Blessing sent your way.

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  21. Hi Chelsea ,We have recently purchased a town house and the walls are painted cinder block .We would like to repaint plus maybe render in lounge room .We have brown furniture plus brown tiles .We have also purchased a big rug mat which has brown,red,black and beige in it .Do you have any ideas what colour would suit the lounge room walls and ceiling .

    1. Hi Michael, it’s hard to say without seeing the space. Is your furniture dark brown or light brown? What about the tile? What colors do you like? It’s probably a good idea to go with a neutral color and maybe consider an accent wall.

  22. I’m one more +1 on being so grateful I found this post. I’d been wanting a grey microfiber couch for ages and found one at Costco– but we didn’t jump fast enough and it’s such a good deal that I’m sucking it up and buying its brown compatriot. But like another commenter I’m painting the walls a blue-hued grey. And I’m framing two huge frames with the words “Be still” and “my soul” to have huge pops of white above it (you can see the idea if you search those words on Pinterest(. A grey blanket, some nice pops of color, and I think I might end up kind of loving it.

  23. I have a chocolate leather brown couch and just painted my walls SW requisite gray. I would like to do pops of a light aqua or sea glass. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now seems overwhelming. My mantle looks great with some turquoise pieces and I chose light bluish green curtains but now Im struggling with lamps, carpet and accent furniture. Is sea glass lamps too much? I have no idea of the right balance!

  24. I love the room with the striped rug and the brown couch with the yellow chair. I could only find a sleeper sofa i liked in dark brown so I almost gave up on buying any furniture all together. What store do you look at to buy accent pieces? I am struggling to find ones I like and can commit to.

    1. Hi Leslie, I shop all over but some favorites are HM.com, World Market, Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Joss & Main. Hope that’s helpful.

  25. Hi I’ve got dark brown leather sofas Dulux timeless on 3 walls and Dulux chic shadow on feature wall what colour carpet should I get

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