A brown couch can be urban-sophisticated, richly traditional or extravagantly antique. What it can't be is unnoticed in the living room. That large brown seating unit can be as enticing as a giant chocolate bar -- but only if you surround it with colors that enhance its earthy cocoa tones. Walls, windows, floors and other furnishings should complement and coordinate with the confectionery-colored couch.
Painting With Chocolate
The walls are like a decorative wrapper for your chocolate brown sofa. The simplest way to show the strong couch color to advantage is to paint walls and ceiling a creamy white like vanilla, or a pale off-white such as unbleached linen. Look for whites with a warm undertone; chocolate brown is a warm color -- and surrounding it with cool colors and accents would create an uncomfortable sense of discord in the room. A lighter, whipped chocolate shade -- maybe one with a hint of cinnamon -- will balance the heat of a deep orange terra-cotta wall. A dark chocolate sofa in a room with pale green walls the color of new grass creates a juxtaposition as vibrant as spring growth against rich topsoil. Pale gray walls the tint of smoke are another elegant backdrop for the deep sofa color.
Windows and Floors
Window and floor coverings are prominent decor areas that have to work with the dominance of a chocolate colored couch. Curtains in soft shades of shimmering gold fabric, falling to the floor in graceful folds, highlight brown's opulence and draw light into the living room. Curtain colors from white-gold to honey recede into paler walls, creating a sense of spaciousness. Toast curtains in an open weave are informal but not inelegant. Pastel jade or celadon drapes, either solid or patterned with delicate white or off-white lines, are muted and graceful. Carpet choices range from oatmeal wall-to-wall to a soft melange of colors in an oriental area rug that pulls together the wall, drapery, sofa and accent colors. A bare wood floor looks best when it's much lighter than the dark chocolate of the couch.
Chocolate With All the Trimmings
Decorative accents and art in the room allow you to change the ambiance at will. The chocolate sofa is the anchor, but you could toss silk throw pillows in scarlet, violet, sunflower or cyan on its ultra-suede, velvet, linen or damask upholstery. The deep rose-pink or vivid orange of tulips in a crystal vase enlivens brown, as does a large abstract painting with a light background and jolts of tropical hues. In most cases, a pendant lamp or chandelier in gold metal meshes with chocolate brown, but, if walls are pale gray and the room's palette is minimal, silver or tarnished silver will look mellow, not industrial, and flatter the couch.
The sofa isn't the only piece of furniture in the room, and what you put in there with it may determine the decor style. A plain chocolate brown sofa in linen or even velvet can rest easily in your Baroque or Rococo salon when you upholster the gilt antique chairs in wide brown-and-cream brocade stripes. A pair of club chairs in mint and tangerine chevron fabric get some South Beach Art Deco embellishment from tortoise bamboo shades and a chaise covered in Erte-inspired brocade. Integrate your Mid-Century Modern decor with the couch and a pony hide Le Corbusier-style chaise and a couple of ivory leather Barcelona-style chairs.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .