This Paint Color Is a Fresh, Sophisticated Spin on a ’90s Fave

published Mar 20, 2024
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The ’90s called, and they’re coming for your interiors. From adding wallpaper borders to decorating with ivy and roosters to incorporating ruffly florals, lots of 1990s and early 2000s trends are finding their way back into the zeitgeist. And a very ’90s color that’s been making its way through the fashion industry in the last couple of years has found its way into paint trends for 2024.

Chocolate brown was a favorite neutral color — maybe even a defining color — in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the 2010s, gray became the go-to for neutral paint, but the 2020s have circled back to warm tans and beiges — and now, in 2024, dark brown is back and more dramatic than ever.

Although the thought of drenching your walls with something as dark as chocolate brown might be a bit scary, several designers and DIYers are proving that a warm mocha has a totally warm, enveloping effect. In fact, 57% of designers who responded to Apartment Therapy’s State of Home Design Survey identified the color as one they’re going for in 2024.

If you’re still not sold on brown paint’s power, let this project from Shenel Shaikh ( convince you. For her dining room, Shanel chose a “rich, earthy” brown, as she describes it, that’s a throwback to ‘90s trends but still looks totally modern.

Credit: Yesi Laver

Shenel used Benjamin Moore’s Toasted Brown, which mirrors the medium-brown shade of the wood floors to create a rich cocoon effect. “This shade of brown can complement a variety of decor styles, making it a versatile choice for interior design projects,” she says. Shanel’s space skews organic modern, but brown paint would work equally well in a traditional space (like this vintage-inspired bathroom), a mid-century-style space, or a boho-style space, among others.

While Shenel went with Benjamin Moore, there are plenty of similar shades from other brands that might work for the look you’re after, too. Clare’s Coffee Date is a dark and moody conversation starter, Sherwin-Williams’ Bitter Chocolate is more plum-colored, and Farrow & Ball’s Wainscot is a bit quieter, if you only want to dabble in brown. (In other words, there’s something for every kind of chocolate-lover out there, whether you’re more of a Hershey’s milk chocolate fan or prefer to pair something incredibly dark and bitter with sweet fruit.)

Credit: Yesi Laver

Shenel’s recommendation is to choose something with red undertones that “looks striking in any light.” Red undertones will play nicely with any wood furniture in the space, too. Shanel especially loves how her brown choice looks with her mantel, which she also stained a “rich, deep,” brown because the dark brown trend isn’t just limited to walls. (In fact, dark stained wood is one of the emerging design trends of 2024).

If you can’t paint your place but still love the look, check out these six other ideas for decorating with dark brown.