Not your grandma’s brown

Not your grandma’s brown

Huff Harrington vignette with Louis Philippe commode

What do you tell someone who thinks that their "brown furniture" is old fashioned and boring?  Easy peasy, we say:  It’s all about the mix and  they need to have their eyes opened to how stylish, young and exciting it can be to have a “touch of brown” in every room.  Just take a look at Instagram and see how some of the best designers know how to mix old with new, brown with bold, and sleek with crusty.

Meet William McLure, one of the most exciting designers/artists and an Instagram sensation.  Note how he almost always displays his fabulous art over an equally fabulous antique.  And how even when he moves the piece from room to room, the “touch of brown” always anchors the room with depth and soul. (All images from Instagram @william_mclure)

William McLure: A pretty burled wood Louis Philippe French chest anchoring one of his paintings
See how he moved it to the bathroom where it serves a different purpose but is just as handsome.
See how he has paired a crunchy console with statement art and mixed it with modern furniture.
Spotted again: the same crunchy console looking equally regal anchoring an eclectic array of sculpture and art.

Another Instagram sensation is the uber talented Rivers Spencer, who has one of the most beautifully curated pages.  Just scroll through some of her photos and you’ll not just see a wonderful array of antiques mixed with modern, but you’ll also see how she sometimes updates the antiques to be more modern.  There’s nothing wrong with that!  She does it beautifully. (@riversspencer)

Rivers has paired this gorgeous French Louis XVI walnut commode with tall sleek lamps and pretty soft furnishings. Is this Grandma’s house? Not!
We love what she’s done here with this French regency burled walnut commode, and added a fresh white slab of marble to it. So clean and so pretty!
Here she’s done it again, with a classy Louis Philippe dresser. Way too sassy for Grandma!
And look at the marriage of lacquered grey walls with an antique French table and chairs. So chic and contemporary.
We also love using these pretty burled wood side tables and pairing them together as a coffee table.

Dana Wolters is a talented Birmingham designer whose work inspires us all the time.  She mixes form and function in a cohesive manner that looks stylish, warm and comfortable.  And she uses a “touch of brown” in almost every room! (@danawoltersinteriors)

We love to see the pairing of a dark carved antique console with pretty modern upholstery and art.
What a statement this dark mahogany coffee table adds to the room!
Or look at the juxtaposition of the antique dining table and the pretty lucite console.  It’s all about the mix.
We love the unexpected and stylish 1940’s French side table anchoring the room

And then there’s our friend, the ever-so-talented and lovely Paloma Contreras, whose Instagram following is off the charts — and so well deserved.  We had the honor of having Paloma on one of our Paris Buying Trips and she was an inspiration to all of us, with her discerning eye and carefully edited choices.  Now she’s the proud author of, “Dream Design Live” which is a wonderful book filled with as much practical information as beautiful photos, and owner of the eponymous store in Houston: Paloma & Co. Follow Paloma @palomacontrerasdesign

In this beautiful study, the 1940’s French chair adds a touch of warmth and contrast, like an exclamation point!
Here Paloma has created a graphic punch, marrying a pretty Louis Philippe walnut chest with an over sized octagonal mirror.
If you follow Paloma, you’ll know her boy Tate, who is so adorable in front of this handsome Louis XVI mahogany inlaid chest.

Finally, there’s the distinguished Atlanta based designer whose name says it all:  Robert Brown!  Bob has a magnificent eye and his carefully curated interiors are always handsomely tailored with layers of texture, color, art … and of course, a touch of brown.

Bob is a pro at finding and mixing interesting shapes and creating layers of depth and contrast.
Love this 19th C. French walnut desk paired with a collection of modern art.
Again, a pretty Louis XVI walnut commode that is just the perfect warm foil for the layers of black and white art sculptural elements.
A great conversation piece, this commodious table has some heft in its size and oomph in its legs!

So you see, we’re not telling our friends to fill their houses with brown furniture, like Grandma’s place; but to choose some pieces that have character and depth, that will transcend current styles and give their home a collected and curated feel for years to come.  A touch of old adds history and soul to a home, and that’s why we can’t let go of brown.

So that’s some wisdom to pass on to your friends … along with a touch of brown!

Ta ta,



P.S.  And of course we’ve just unloaded another container full of one-of-a-kind goodies from Europe, with (you guessed it!) a few touches of brown. Definitely not for Grandma.


1 comment



Not Your Grandma’s Brown. One of your best yet! Thank you!

Not Your Grandma’s Brown. One of your best yet! Thank you!

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