Decorating With Brown Leather Furniture (Tips for a Lighter, Brighter Look)

Leather furniture is durable, comfortable, long-lasting (lasts 4 times longer than fabric on average) and it adds character to a space.  It also adapts well to most any design style.

If there is anything that’s not great about it, it may be that some people struggle to decorate around it.   Especially in the summer or any time when they prefer a space that’s light and/or colorful.

It doesn’t need to be difficult though.  Whether you’re working around brown leather furniture or a sofa upholstered in brown fabric, here are some tips that are sure to help:

Brown is a neutral.

The first thing to remember is that brown leather is a neutral so, much like gray, it really works well with a variety of colors.  It also plays well with other neutrals, so it’s all in the look that you’re going for.

Create contrast with white.

White walls are still pretty popular, but you may have wondered whether or not they would actually work with brown leather furniture.  The answer is definitely YES!

living room with modern brown leather furniture, white walls, gold accents
SHOP THIS ROOM: brown leather furniture | cocktail table | end tables

Lighter rugs.

It may be tempting to use heavier rugs and warm, dark colors with leather furniture (and that certainly would feel cozy and inviting).

But, if you’re looking for a lighter look, go for lighter, textural rugs like jute and sisal or rugs that incorporate whites, off-whites, or softer, lighter, or brighter colors.

Lighter, brighter rugs in rooms with brown furniture
SHOP rugs

Custom details.

If you’re not a fan of all-white walls, but want to lighten up a space, consider custom details like wainscoting.

This living room is definitely warm and cozy but the crisp accent of the white wainscoting and fireplace really lightens the space and adds interesting architectural detail.

living room of remodeled Craftsman with slate-tile surround and wood mantel
This Old House

Natural elements.

Plants, items from nature, and texture will always be your friend when it comes to softening and bringing life to a space.

Coffee table and bookshelf decorating
Giannetti Homes

Mix with lighter furniture and accessories.

In our farmhouse living room, we used white distressed tables, a fun mix of light neutral and yellow pillows, and a light accent chair to give this brown sofa in leather-look fabric a light and airy feel.

Shop this farmhouse living room:
sofa | cocktail table | nesting tables

Go bold with color and pattern.

Incorporate a mix of bright colors and patterns to draw the eye around the room. Even one bold color in various shades and tints, combined with pattern and textures, can make a big impact!

(In this space the white in the walls and accessories also help to lighten the look of the brown furniture.)

Family room with white walls and brown leather furniture and pops of color. Great contrast - great look!
leather-look sofa | recliner | matching tables| accent table | rug | lamps

Be inspired!

Visit our How To Decorate page (below) to find more solutions for design dilemmas, design tips, decorating ideas, room inspiration and more!

Edited and republished 7/3/17

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  1. 7 Great Reasons to Decorate With Leather | Schneiderman's {the blog} - March 29, 2016

    […] Because brown, gray or black leathers are neutrals it means that, rather than being limiting, they actually offer you options.  Don’t be afraid to mix your favorite colors and patterns with them!  (We give you more tips for decorating with leather in this post.) […]

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