This neutral is a natural. Legendary designer Billy Baldwin used a black-brown custom color—always in a high gloss—as a sophisticated segue between contemporary and traditional. Brown blends with so many colors. Try burnt oranges to enhance its warm nature, cool blues for crisp contrast, or rusty reds to create pop with a modern flair. Brown is as high-style as its hip urban cousin, black, but it offers a softer sensibility—one that is both handsome and welcoming.
John Barman and Kelly Graham, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Showhouse, New York, New York
This 21st-century tribute to the symmetry of Art Deco mixes retro colors and streamlined furnishings. “The ’90s were about beige, and black set it off well,” says designer John Barman. “But now, with brighter colors in the mix, shades of brown are a softer choice.”
Barman and Kelly Graham wrapped the walls of this sitting room in cork wallpaper shot with retro burnt orange and cinnamon. Strong, linear furnishings—a 1940s velvet-covered chaise lounge, a 1940s pedestal console table, and a column topped with a 1930s garden urn—add to the Deco appeal. A brass-grid coffee table, the limestone fireplace, and a circular mirror push the geometric theme further.