Brown is a versatile neutral color that can work well in many different decor schemes. When selecting brown paint colors or brown furnishings, an important consideration is the undertone. Brown colors can have warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Cool toned browns have blue or ash undertones that give them a more modern, sleek look. Identifying and using the right cool toned brown can help create stylish, soothing spaces.
What are warm, cool, and neutral color undertones?
Undertone refers to the subtle hue that exists underneath a main color. It affects how we perceive that color. Warm, cool, and neutral are the three main undertone families for colors:
- Warm undertones contain hints of yellow, orange, or red. They evoke feelings of comfort and coziness.
- Cool undertones have hints of blue, green, or purple. They feel crisp, refreshing, and contemporary.
- Neutral undertones don’t lean warm or cool. They are well-balanced in the middle.
Understanding undertones helps coordinate colors and choose the most flattering clothing colors for your complexion. The same brown paint color can look completely different depending on its undertone. Warm browns have a golden glow while cool browns have a sleek grayness.
What are some examples of cool toned brown paint colors?
If you want a brown with a cooler, more modern feel, look for paint colors described as ash, beige, or taupe. Here are some popular cool toned brown paint colors to consider from major brands:
|Paint Brand||Color Name|
Smoky Brown by Behr has a beautiful blue undertone that reads as a hazy gray-brown. Benjamin Moore’s Graywood is a light brownish gray with subtle cool undertones. For a medium taupe brown, Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams has become popular. Valspar’s Mocha Foam is darker charcoal-brown with a green-gray undertone.
There are many more cool toned brown paint options from major and boutique paint companies. Visit your local paint store to browse swatches in person. Brown colors can look very different in person than on a computer screen. Viewing real paint samples allows you to better judge undertones.
How can you tell if a brown has cool undertones?
It can be tricky to discern a brown’s undertone just from the color name or an online photo. Here are some tips for identifying cool toned browns:
- Compare it to known colors. If it looks more similar to blue/gray than orange/yellow, it likely has a cool undertone.
- Look at the color in natural light. Cool browns tend to look more grayish.
- Swatch it next to a warm brown. The difference in undertones will be more apparent.
- Check the color description for keywords like “ash”, “greige”, “taupe”, or “stone”.
- Go for lighter browns. Dark browns can appear neutral whereas lighter browns show undertones more.
If still uncertain about the undertone, test a brush sample on your wall. View it at different times of day to see how the color shifts in lighting. Many brown paint colors are versatile neutrals that could suit either warm or cool decor palettes. Testing out the undertone will prevent surprises.
Where can you use a cool toned brown in your home?
Cool toned browns are extremely versatile and can be incorporated throughout the home:
- Walls: Light cool toned browns make excellent neutral backdrop colors in place of plain white or beige. They provide warmth while still feeling modern.
- Trim/molding: Use a deeper cool brown like charcoal or brown gray for trim and doors to add subtle contrast against the walls.
- Furniture: Cool toned brown wood finishes give furnishings a sophisticated look.Gray-brown leather or microfiber sofas pair well with contemporary decor.
- Accessories: Try ash brown vases, taupe lamp bases, or smoky bronze decor pieces to complement the color scheme.
- Textiles: Incorporate cool toned brown hues in pillows, area rugs, and other fabrics for a unified earthy look.
Cool brown is especially popular in living rooms, bedrooms, and modern kitchens. It creates a relaxing oasis away from stark whites. Just take care to get the right undertone brown for your goals. Warm brown furnishings would clash against a cool taupe paint, and vice versa. Keep everything cohesive.
What are the benefits of using cool toned browns?
Compared to warm browns, cool toned brown paint colors have some unique advantages:
- Feels more contemporary and stylish
- Offers a fresh, inviting look different than typical beige
- More versatile as it has gray mixed in
- Easier to coordinate with other colors since it’s not extremely warm
- Softens a space without feeling too dark or dramatic
The right cool brown creates an elegant, retreat-like ambiance. It serves as a soothing backdrop that you won’t tire of since it’s not completely neutral. Cool browns add subtle interest while still remaining timeless. They work in homes of all ages and styles when selected intentionally. Mix different shades of cool browns together for a coordinated, pulled-together look.
What colors go well with cool toned browns?
The beauty of cool toned browns is that they are extremely versatile for pairing with other colors. Here are some ideas for complementary color schemes:
- Neutrals: Pair different shades of cool toned browns together, from light taupe to dark charcoal brown. Add in grays, blacks, and whites.
- Blues: From navy to sky blue, brown’s cool undertone allows blues to harmonize. Teal is also an unexpected pop.
- Greens: Earthy olive, sage, jade, and emerald greens complement brown’s subtle green/gray mix well.
- Pinks: Try soft blush, mauve, and even deeper cranberry hues with brown for a retro vibe.
- Metallics: Bronze, pewter, silver, and gold add glam and shine against matte brown.
In general, you’ll get the most seamless look by coordinating cool toned browns with other cool-leaning colors. But it can serve as a neutral base for small pops of contrasting colors too, like yellow or red. Use brown’s grayness to tie the scheme together.
How do you decorate and design with cool toned browns?
Here are some tips for effectively utilizing cool toned browns in your home’s design:
- Use it as a neutral alternative to plain white or beige on walls and larger surfaces.
- Layer in different shades of brown with different depths for visual interest.
- Add pops of contrasting colors like bright white or vibrant blue in accessories.
- Incorporate brown-toned wood furnishings and leather/velvet textures.
- Repetition is key – echo brown across soft furnishings like pillows and rugs.
- Metallic accents and hardware help brown feel glam and modern.
- Consider brown furniture against cool-toned gray walls or vice versa.
Brown can feel traditional, but using the right cool-leaning shades keeps it current. Focus on light and medium browns to keep the space airy. Dark browns can get too murky and dramatic if overused. Add enough contrast so brown doesn’t feel flat and monotonous. Then let brown’s cozy, subtle color shine through.
Brown gets an undeserved reputation for being boring or outdated. But the right cool toned browns are anything but. Ranging from beige to charcoal, these sophisticated neutrals inject subdued color into any room. Test out swatches to find a brown with a noticeable gray undertone. Use these tips to gracefully decorate with the cool toned brown hues you love. Emphasize brown’s versatility as an alternative neutral backdrop in your home. Paint companies offer many beautiful options to suit subtle, contemporary design schemes.