Warm and enveloping, like a hug. These may not be the words you want to read as we focus on keeping our homes at a reasonably cool temperature.
But prepare yourself for more such descriptions. The colour brown is returning to fashion, as the need for more comfort in decor grows and the 1970s aesthetic gains a new following.
Suddenly, brown is groovy, baby, for accessories, furnishings, upholstery and walls. It’s a palette that encompasses almond, buff, caramel, coffee, espresso, mustard, mocha, pecan, tan, teak, toffee, umber and walnut.
Earthy: Edward Bulmer’s London Brown paint on the walls
Andrew Hunter, head of design at Habitat, says customers increasingly are opting for ‘nostalgic retro-inspired pieces that channel casual comfort and familiarity’.
He adds: ‘We’re expecting the trend to grow as we look towards autumn.’
It’s not only the appeal of the 1970s’ laidback style that is powering the rise of brown. The colour offers a closer link with nature.
Helena Flynn, from furniture and homeware group Andrew Martin, sees this as a response to concerns about the planet. ‘Brown has a calming effect,’ she says. ‘It allows people to feel more connected with the Earth, helping them to keep their feet, literally, on the ground.’
She says that demand for almond and tan colour-ways in cushions and throws is also a sign of a desire for reassurance amid economic uncertainty and political upheaval.
The colour brown also caters for wanderlust. Terracotta evokes the walls of a Tuscan hilltown, or the tiled floors of a Moroccan riad.
The colour of an Egyptian mummy may not seem the ideal shade to enliven an interior. But the Edward Bulmer Mummy brown — a pinkish hue — is a comforting but smart tone that’s ideal for kitchens and hallways.
Mor Krisher, head of design at Caesarstone, the kitchen surfaces company, is taking inspiration from the textures of weathered stones in the desert to cater for the shift towards kitchens in more sombre but welcoming hues.
Still unconvinced that brown would work in your home? Here’s our guide to help get you started.
The popularity of brown is spurred by the ease with which any of its shades can blend with an existing decor: brown can be neutral. It can also be the ideal backdrop if you want to showcase your favourite artwork to its best advantage.
A room decorated mostly in beige or grey can seem chilly. But it would be enlivened by an H&M Home deep-pile rug in dark brown which has been reduced from £299 to £159 or the Dunelm Cooper mocha two-seater sofa, also reduced from £499 to £249.50.
Look out, however, for braver combinations, such as brown and orange, partly under the influence of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things.
The drama is set in the 1980s but the characters’ homes have low-slung 1970s sofas and bric-a-brac. The Harrogate Chestnut tile (£17.94 each, Craven Dunhill) would not look out of place.
Sweet like chocolate: A bold option is to pair a bitter chocolate shade with off-white
PAINT IT ON
Brown paint may sound dreary. But such is the multiplicity of shades available that the results should be anything but dispiriting, although they are rarely branded as brown.
Crown’s range includes Country Farmhouse, a cosy mix of grey and brown, and the jewel-like Ruby Chocolate, ideal for light-filled spaces. A toffee colour, such as Dulux’s Caramel Fudge, would cheer a darker space.
Justyna Korczynska, Crown’s colour consultant, suggests anyone venturing into brown should keep it low by teaming a sandstone with a chalky off-white (from £18 for 2.5 litres).
If you are feeling bolder, use mustard or bitter chocolate against off-white.
Edward Bulmer, founder of the eponymous paint company, recommends his company’s moody London Brown should be used with Light Fine White. Bulmer’s guide to using paint has been launched at the online Create Academy.
All square: Harrogate Chestnut tile, £17.94 each, Craven Dunhill
Many households will opt for brown accessories. A bitter chocolate Sheridan silk pillowcase (£52) would add luxury to inexpensive white sheets. H&M Home has a set of two cushion covers in abstract desert hue patterns (£6.99).
If you prefer pale woods but would like to take a walk on the dark side, H&M’s £199 brown bedside table with shuttered jalousie doors would be suitable.
A lamp is another option. At Dunelm, you will find the £52 Santiago Urn lamp with a cream linen lampshade.
Made.com has reduced the price of its brown earthenware planters (£10 to £24). Add Swiss cheese plants to create that 1970s vibe (from £16, Patch).