What color is replacing black? Interior designers are all favoring this one warmer alternative in 2024

This trending color is moody yet cozy, and many interior designers are using it in place of black this year

(Image credit: Natalia Miyar/photography Simon Brown, Alex Yeske Interiors/photography Tina Michelle, Cathy Nordstrom/photography Fanny Radvik)

There's no denying that decorating with black is one of the most effective ways to create a dramatic and sophisticated home decor scheme. But in 2024, we're noticing interior designers are beginning to pivot away from this incredibly dark and intense hue, in favor of warmer tones.

This year, interiors that feel laid back, organic, and full of warmth are leading the way, and the intensity of black can quickly become overbearing in these increasingly relaxed spaces.

So, what color trend is replacing decorating with black? When we asked interior designers, the overarching response was that opting for dark brown generally creates a more flattering and timeless look.

What color is replacing black?

'While black can be very sophisticated, it can also feel sterile or austere,' says interior designer Cinzia Moretti, Creative Director at Moretti Interior Design.

Replacing black with brown is said to create a far more cozy feel, whilst maintaining all of the dark and moody appeal of black. 'Dark brown offers sophistication with a touch of warmth and approachability,' says Cinzia. 'Brown has warm undertones that can make a space feel more inviting and cozy compared to the stark, sometimes harsh, effect of black.'

'Using dark brown instead of black in interior design adds warmth and coziness, making spaces feel more inviting than black,' agrees designer Soledad Alzaga.

small living room with chocolate brown couch and large blue wall art canvas

(Image credit: Cathy Nordstrom / Photographer Fanny Radvik)

Decorating with brown is also said to be more versatile than black, pairing well with many interior design styles. 'Dark brown is softer and more versatile than black, making it easier to work with in different styles and settings' adds Soledad. 'It has a timeless appeal that can add a touch of sophistication and elegance to any room – in both traditional and modern design schemes.'

Another benefit to embracing brown room ideas in 2024 is its ability to pair well with other colors. Decorating with neutrals with warm undertones is hugely popular right now, and the warmth of brown is the perfect match for warm neutrals of all kinds.

'Dark brown is easier to pair with a variety of colors, especially warm tones like beige, cream, and gold. It complements a wider range of palettes compared to black, which can sometimes clash with softer colors,' says Cinzia.

3 ways to replace black with brown in 2024

Below, we've rounded up three of our favorite ways interior designers are using brown in place of black in interior projects. From paint ideas to soft furnishings, these examples show just how cozy and appealing decorating with brown can be.

1. Pair brown tones with soft accent colors

bedroom with brown wall, navy blue velvet headboard and patterned cushions

(Image credit: Natalia Miyar, photography Simon Brown)

'I love to use brown tones in my practice,' says interior designer Natalia Miyar. 'Black is smart but can sometimes feel a little hard in a space. Brown by comparison has a natural warmth that permeates the overall look.'

In this bedroom, Natalia pairs brown walls and dark brown wood furniture with soft-colored furnishings to create a calming space. 'I love to introduce brown with fabrics and warm timbers, it grounds the space whilst remaining soft and unobtrusive, and I often incorporate pinks and blues for some contrast,' continues Natalia.

2. Use dark brown paint to make a statement

bathroom with white tiled walls, dark brown cabinet and gold hardware

(Image credit: Alex Yeske Interiors, photography Tina Michelle)

Consider swapping out black paint for dark brown in 2024, which can create a similarly dramatic look with a noticeably softer and warmer finish. In this bathroom, Los Angeles-based designer Alex Yeske of Alex Yeske Interiors used Farrow & Ball's Cola, a brown paint with red undertones, across the cabinetry, creating a timeless look.

'Using dark brown paint adds more warmth to a space than black,' explains Alex. 'I love to use it on walls or painted trim.'

Another benefit of using dark brown paint instead of black is that the contrast against any white walls can be less intense. 'A lot of our clients dislike the stark contrast that black provides with white walls,' says designer Sarah Latham of Latham Interiors. 'Using a dark brown provides a warmer feeling in a home and a softer look.'

3. Create a warming and cozy living space with brown furniture

living space brown corner sofa, rattan dining chairs and abstract artwork on walls

(Image credit: Ashley Ferguson Interiors, photography Kiernan Reeves)

Brown also makes a go-to color choice for furniture. In this living space, interior designer Ashley Ferguson of Ashley Ferguson Interiors opted for a dark brown sectional, achieving a much softer look than dark gray or black.

'Using brown helps soften the pallet while still giving depth,' says Ashley. 'It warms things up, sometimes black can be too stark and too bold, while brown is just the right amount of richness and is calming but grounding.'

Another reason to reach for brown furniture like this in place of black is that it pairs seamlessly with natural elements, reflecting an organic and earthy look. 'This hue integrates well with natural materials like wood, leather, and stone, enhancing an organic aesthetic that brings the outdoors inside,' adds Cinzia.

Designers favor brown for many reasons, and it's clear this color adds a lot of warmth and cozy appeal to spaces where black can often be too harsh. If you're looking to bring the organic and cozy appeal of brown into your interior scheme, shop some of our favorite brown decor pieces below.

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.