Color psychology—or how different shades affect our emotional being—states that humans feel a sense of safety and security when surrounded by brown. Why? Its associations with the earth: the calming and resilient element that keeps us quite literally grounded.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that after two whole years of pandemic uncertainty, brown is seeing a massive resurgence in home decor and interior design. The ultra-chic Fasano Fifth Avenue in New York enlisted Thierry Despont to swath their luxurious private club in caramel tones from Loro Piana. (“The palette of warm colors we chose not only plays up the cozy intimacy of the environment at Fasano Fifth Avenue, but also complements the already-celebrated Fasano hospitality concept, refined and warm at once,” Andrea Natal, the general manager, tells Vogue.) Arje’s Bessie Afnaim Corral and Oliver Corral covered their Greenwich Village apartment in terracotta tones—and then launched a cult home brand earlier this year in the exact same aesthetic. Over in Los Angeles, Bode used extensive walnut cabinetry in their new Melrose Avenue shop. Meanwhile, multiple top interior designers—including Danielle Colding, Athena Calderone, Justina Blakeney, and Mark D. Sikes—named it as a color to embrace in Vogue’s annual home decor trend report.
“Everyone is wanting to feel close to and comforted by the earth, whether it’s an organic brown linen for a family room sofa or a rich chocolate silk velvet on bergères for a living room,” Sikes tells Vogue. Recently, Sikes decorated a living room in Chicago with chocolate brown lacquered walls and ivory details. (“Chicest room ever,” he notes.)
Another factor that contributes to brown’s appeal? The rise of warm minimalism. Too often, minimalism—or the interior art of simplicity in form and color—has been interpreted as all-white-everything: white couches, white walls, white accents. Beautiful, yes, but also stark. And as the pandemic made everyone sit at home staring at their walls, that monochromatic aesthetic was the last thing many of us wanted. Enter brown: a color that’s comforting yet can still fit within a neutral, pared down palette beloved by minimalism devotees. “I think people are looking for a new ‘old’ neutral,” says Colding. Fellow interior designer Jake Arnold, principal of Studio Jake Arnold, agrees: “My motto is always brown, never gray. Shades of brown bring about warmth, earthiness, and calm that feel timeless and grounding,” he says.