How to Decorate a Dark Brown Sofa Living Room

In a time where light and bright spaces are the most trending of home decor styles, 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 they are refined, classic, and family-friendly. Have you ever tried to wipe chocolate milk off a white sofa? How about a brown leather sofa? Yeah, brown leather is the real MVP of family-friendly furniture. Brown is also one of the most neutral shades for sofas, right behind gray, so brown sofas work in a lot of spaces. If you are struggling to decorate with a brown sofa then read on and learn some brown sofa living room ideas and how to make brown couches work for you in your home.

How to Decorate a Dark Brown Sofa Living Room

How to Decorate a Dark Brown Sofa in a Living Room

Here’s the deal, when decorating a space that has a brown couch as a focal point, you have to balance the heaviness of the brown furniture. You can balance the furniture with different shades of paint, window treatments, accessories, rugs, and even pillows. Consider this, if you have a dark chocolate brown sofa, dark moody walls, and then layer on darker accents like a rug – your space will feel dark. That is not always a bad thing. If you are looking for a moody and warm space, then that may work for you. 

However, if you are looking to lighten up your room without swapping your sofa, there are things you can do to make your space feel brighter.  You can add elements to 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 your space. This will bring the focus to the textures and the warmth of your space so that your dark brown sofa doesn’t feel so heavy in the room. In this post, we’ll answer the following questions: What colors go best with a brown sofa? How do you brighten up brown furniture? What colors look good on a brown couch? How do I style a room with a brown leather couch? 

Let’s just dive in and talk about some ways you can decorate your brown sofa.

how to decorate a dark brown sofa in a living room with patterns and color


Consider The Placement of Your Brown Couch

One overlooked thing when designing interiors is the simple idea that furniture placement matters. I know I’ve done this when moving to a new house, I allow the movers to move my furniture in the way they think it makes the most sense. Oftentimes, a simple furniture rearrangement can help your space feel more balanced. In the image above you can see the brightest spot in this room is through that big bright window. It perfectly balances the brown sofa and dark rug. If your window coverings are completely blocking the light that is trying to beam through, consider removing the blinds or opening the curtains and letting the light shine in. It might be just enough to make your brown couch feel a little less overpowering.

Decorating a brown sofa living room


Create Balance with Color and Your Brown Sofa Living Room

I always encourage homeowners (and renters, I see you) to consider their whole house color palette. We discussed a little above how creating a balance with hues can make a space feel more put together. I do think wall colors matter to a degree when it comes to creating a balance. In the space above, the light walls create a crisp yet warm backdrop. Additionally, when you look around the room, there is a nice balance between warm colors and cool colors. The warmth comes from the cream, brown, and gold accents and the gray chair and drape add a touch of coolness. 

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.

how to decorate with a dark brown leather couch


Soften Brown Leather Couches With Pillows and Throws

Brown leather couches are really such a classic piece of furniture. It’s not just their aesthetic that keeps them in style, I think it’s also the comfort. Leather is a sophisticated-looking fabric and I think that can turn off some people but I really love it. I think brown leather sofas are great for family homes and can be used in a variety of spaces. 

It’s true that a dark brown leather sofa can appear stiff or unwelcoming but with a few accents, I think you can make a brown leather couch feel very inviting. How do you do it? Layers! Layers and layers of pillows and throw blankets provide a welcoming coziness that tells your guests they are welcome to come and have a sit.

What Type of Throw Pillows For Brown Leather Couches?

Unlike regular upholstery, I usually recommend pillows with a lot of texture for a leather couch. You can really go with any color combination you wish but I really have a love for neutrals or warm earth tones on leather. Colors like tan, sand, beige, and even copper look great as calming, warm accents to soften brown leather couches.

how to decorate a farmhouse living room with dark brown sofa


how to decorate with a dark brown leather sectional. How to Decorate a Dark Brown Sofa Living Room


What Colors Go With a Brown Couch?

After digesting all of that information, I’m sure the next question is what accent colors go with a brown couch anyway? That’s a great question that doesn’t have one solid answer. Instead of telling you what color I believe you to pair with your dark brown couch. I’m going to provide you with inspiration so that you can see which of these creates the mood you’re looking for.

First, let me show you what goes colors go with a brown leather sofa because this really works. I will forever and forever love white walls. White walls create a fresh backdrop and really make a room feel spacious and inviting. If you can imagine how bland this space above might be without those pretty pops of blue, you realize that sometimes warm tones on warm tones aren’t the right answer. I love that white the dark brown sofa is large in this space, it doesn’t feel dominating. We still notice the feature wall, the pretty blue and aqua accents, and even the wooden furniture! All of this works really well to create an inviting living room space.

Consider pops of color like aqua, orange, or yellow to bring the space together.

Learn how to mix throw pillows like a pro

decorate with brown couches


Now, let’s explore tone on tone ideas for a brown leather sofa. This farmhouse meets vintage vibes is giving ultimate coziness, is it not? You can easily soften brown leather couches by using creamy beige, whites, and browns.

Tone on tone with warmer hues like beige, tan, copper, and gold.

How to Decorate a Brown Sofa Living Room - ideas


Now, if both of those options I’ve mentioned are still not enough color for you then let me introduce you to two bold colors that work really well with brown sofas. Meet mustard yellow and tangerine orange. You of course don’t have to use them both but they work really well together in this space above. Add in some white accents and you have a very nicely balanced living room.

Bold punches of color like mustard yellow and tangerine orange complement dark brown couches very nicely.

Decorating, living with, and loving, a brown sofa


Maybe it’s not the decorative accents that bring the color to the space but an accent wall instead. Yes, please! I love the depth that the blue walls, brown sofa, and white accents achieve here. The dark chocolate brown sofa is as dark as you could imagine but the space still feels so very light and bright. The brown sofa feels less heavy with the addition of a textured rug and neutral accent pillows.

Soft and soothing wall colors can add depth and elegance to the room.

Try Using Color and Pattern With Your Brown Sofa Living Room

use pattern and color to Decorate a Dark Brown Sofa Living Room


This is probably one of my favorite spaces on the internet right now. It boasts a brown velvet couch, and a ton of pattern, color, and texture. Many of us would never even try to attempt such a thing for fear of totally screwing it up but this works. You, too, can bring visual interest to your space with color and patterns. The combination of color and pattern truly does draw your eye around the room to take it all in. This space is so beautiful – you can’t help but be drawn to all of the patterns that are both simple and elaborate. The navy and white striped rug and the ikat ottomans are absolute stunners in this space. They both work SO well with the brown sofa. I think the best part about this space is that it doesn’t feel like there is one focal point. The sofa even feels more like an accent than it is the main piece.

Use pattern, color, and texture to create a feast for the eyes when decorating a living room with a brown sofa.

Decorate with a dark brown leather couch, blue accents, and patterns.


Here’s another living room with a brown couch that uses layers, pattern, and accent colors to create a lot of visual interest. What is working well for this space is the layered rugs. A larger textured rug with a bold black and white striped rug on top. Also the blue throw pillows create beautiful contrast on the dark brown couch. They also play so nicely with the blue and white wall art behind the couch. This is such a well rounded space that feels so inviting and warm. All of these elements work well together to make the space really welcoming.

If you’ve struggled with how to decorate a dark brown sofa in a living room then I truly hope today you feel a little more confident to tackle your space. These examples show you that decorating with a brown couch can feel however you want it to with a little bit of intentional effort.  You can achieve a well-balanced, light, and bright space by simply using the right decor, artwork, and layers. If you find these tips helpful, please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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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 🙂

    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.

  4. Love the inspiration pics you’ve shown. I think a light wall color and some bright accessories and the brown sofa will definitley become your favorite.

    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 😉 Hope you are having a great day!

  5. 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.

  6. 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! 🙂 (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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!!! 😉

    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 sofa… one day!!

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  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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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  15. 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!!

  16. 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 🙂 I saw a lot of light blue in those pics to go with it– maybe that’s a place to start.

  17. 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.

  18. 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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  20. 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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  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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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