When it comes to fashion and interior decorating, determining whether two colors go well together can be tricky. Blue and brown are both neutral colors that are versatile and easy to match with other shades. However, pairing the right tones and shades of blue and brown requires some thought and planning. Here are some tips on matching these colors successfully.
The Color Theory Behind Blue and Brown
According to basic color theory, blue and brown are complementary colors, meaning they are opposite each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors create a strong visual contrast, which allows them to stand out when paired together. This contrast is why complements are often considered striking color combinations.
However, complements can also clash if the tones are too bright or saturated. The key is to choose muted and dusty shades of the colors. Soft blues and browns will complement each other without being overpowering.
Choosing the Right Shades of Blue and Brown
When selecting a blue and brown color palette, it’s important to pay attention to the undertones. Blues with green undertones (like teal or aqua) will clash with warm browns that have orange or red undertones. Conversely, browns with purple undertones will not match well with vibrant, light blues.
The safest bet is to stick with neutral and dusty shades. Soft, muted blues like powder blue, slate blue, or navy look beautiful with earthy browns like beige, tan, taupe, and mushroom. Darker shades like chocolate, chestnut, and coffee brown also pair nicely with darker blues like navy.
You’ll want to avoid combining a bright, cool blue with a warm, rustic brown. Think robin’s egg blue with cinnamon brown. Those shades are too far apart on the color wheel to blend seamlessly.
Tips for Combining Blue and Brown
Here are some extra tips for pairing blue and brown successfully:
- Add a transition color between the blue and brown, like off-white, cream, grey, or black.
- Use one color as an accent. For example, chocolate brown walls with blue decor pieces.
- Make blue the dominant color and use brown for furniture or accessories.
- Use textures and patterns to blend the colors, like a brown herringbone tweed with blue stripes.
- Incorporate brown wood furniture and flooring into a blue painted room.
- Use multiple shades of blue and brown together for depth.
What Rooms Should Have a Blue and Brown Color Scheme?
Blue and brown can work in many different rooms throughout a home. Here are some ideas:
- Living room – Navy blue walls with camel leather furniture or slate blue with chestnut brown wood accents.
- Bedroom – Powder blue and crisp white with chocolate brown wood nightstands.
- Bathroom – Tan walls and floor tile with blue mosaic accent tile in the shower.
- Dining room – Navy blue dining chairs around a reclaimed wood farmhouse table.
- Office – Blue-grey walls with rich mahogany bookshelves and desk.
- Kitchen – Buttermilk cabinets with a blue-tiled backsplash and brown granite countertops.
- Entryway – Slate blue front door with espresso stained wood floors in the foyer.
Do’s and Don’ts of Blue and Brown
Follow these do’s and don’ts for foolproof blue and brown color coordination:
|Do use muted, dusty shades.||Don’t use bright, bold tones.|
|Do choose blues with purple undertones.||Don’t pair blues with green undertones and warm browns.|
|Do add lighter neutral colors like white.||Don’t use blue and brown alone.|
|Do use multiple shades of each color.||Don’t use a single shade of blue and brown.|
|Do add brown wood furniture to blue rooms.||Don’t overuse brown – use it as an accent.|
Examples of Blue and Brown Color Combinations
Some tried-and-true blue and brown color formulas include:
- Navy blue, cream, and beige
- Steel blue, light brown, and off-white
- Denim blue, chocolate brown, and tan
- Powder blue, espresso, and white
- Pale blue, cappuccino, and grey
- Prussian blue, walnut brown, and ivory
You can also expand on these with different tones and use other accent colors like silver, black, yellow, or rusty red-orange.
Home Decor Pieces to Showcase Blue and Brown
These home decor items allow you to tastefully incorporate blue and brown throughout a room:
- Blue and white ceramic vase on a brown wooden end table
- Tan leather armchair with navy blue pillows
- Framed blue floral art print hanging above a chocolate leather sofa
- Navy and white area rug under a chestnut dining table
- Powder blue bedding with rich espresso end tables
- Slate blue curtains paired with camel window valances
- Distressed wood coffee table with a blue glass top
Use these accessories as a starting point when designing a space with blue and brown. Play with different textures like linen, cotton, leather, velvet, and wool to add visual interest.
When used correctly, blue and brown can create a relaxed, inviting, and highly livable interior palette. The key is choosing the right undertones and shades that complement rather than compete with each other. Neutral, earthy blues and browns will effortlessly blend together for a comfortable, cozy aesthetic. With so many possible tone combinations, blue and brown gives you plenty of options to suit any design style.