a weathered pottery urn in front of a brown painted wall

Color Love: Dark Brown

Easy ways to add rich Dark Brown to your exterior – with tips, ideas, my favorite paint colors, and lots of sources.

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Dark Brown on an exterior, in general, gets a bad rap. Like, so bad. So often, the houses I’m asked to update are various shades of 70’s milky brown done wrong.  And look, I get it, brown done wrong can be REALLY wrong. 

But I’m here to advocate for that rich Dark Brown and show you how it can be really RIGHT.  Whether it’s a roof, or just an accent, or even the whole place, Dark Brown can bring comfort, coziness, and just downright luxury.  

Think bronze, leather, espresso, and dark chocolate.  Warm, deep, and rich all around. 

So today, I’ve got so many inspirations and lots of tips and tricks for adding this wonderful deep neutral to your home.

See all the Color Love posts!

HEADER PHOTO BY Mhmd Sedky on Unsplash

Jump to a section:
Dark Brown Exterior Ideas
What are the Best Exterior Paint Colors?
What goes with an existing Brown roof?
Are Bronze or Black window frames better?

Dark Brown Exterior Ideas

Dark brown has such a bad history that it can be hard to see beyond the bad choices of the past.  And while I think an entirely dark brown exterior could be so, so good, right now, a Dark brown on an exterior is usually a roof, or a stone, or a door system, and not the whole house.  

And all by itself, if you just coat everything in one brown color, it can read a little flat and boring, so it’s best paired with lots of texture, natural finishes, and softer, less-glossy finishes. 

I prefer to think about brown as a rich neutral and not necessarily a color – dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  Bronze instead of brown. 

And I love dark brown with warm metallic accents like copper or brass or a soft, textural, creamy finish like limewashed brick or stucco. I also love brown as a roof color or even just the gutters for a pop of contrast.  Bitter dark chocolate or bronze can also be a wonderful color for siding as a backdrop to accent natural stone or unpainted brick. 

Warm, deep brown wood tones are also a gorgeous compliment to a range of colors – neutral or not!  It’s truly so versatile!

What are the Best Dark Brown Exterior Paint Colors?

As I said, Brown exterior colors, in general, can be a little tricky.  It can easily veer 70’s, which, while that can be fun for a vintage look, isn’t what I’d recommend for most houses.  

You want the brown to be a little more grey than yellow or red – desaturated but still rich.  So look for names like “bronze,” “fox,” “bark” (or anything “tree” adjacent”), “espresso” (or anything “coffee” adjacent), or “walnut” when you’re looking for this color.  

Avoid colors with “mocha” (or anything chocolate adjacent, unless it also says “dark”), “brown” (yes, I know that’s weird, but “brown” is often too yellow), or anything with a red or violet undertone like “black bean.” 

Read the description on the paint site, and it’ll give you clues as well. And you’ll know the color is right when everything else you’re putting it with just starts to sing, to glow, and to feel just right. The right dark brown paint color can make everything else around it look incredible.

And listen, color is hard, especially this one!!  If you’re getting stuck, I’m happy to help with a consultation


What goes with an existing Brown roof?

So what do you do if you already have something brown on your exterior that you want to keep?

The first thing to do is to identify the ‘undertone’ of the material you’re working with.  Does it feel more yellow or red?  Does it feel more grey or tan?  

It’s also helpful if you happen to know the name of the material color, as that can help guide you as well.  The color names I’ve listed above are a great indicator of what you’re working with. “Brown” is typically more red or yellow, while “Espresso” is typically more grey. 

Here are some of my favorite combos with Duration Teak from Owens-Corning, a great brown asphalt shingle that goes with so many things:

Are Bronze or Black window frames better?

In general, if someone wants to do a dark window frame, I tend to lean towards a bronze window frame vs a true black one, as long as all of the other colors in the scheme are softer and warmer, too.  

So, if you are doing warm cream siding or have a tan brick, bronze makes more sense to keep the scheme feeling softer and warmer. If you’re using soft accent colors like light blue or pale sage green, bronze can be a lovely contrast, but the contrast will be less drastic.  With bronze window frames, a matching accent like bronze gutters can also really finish off the exterior in a clean and modern way while still feeling soft and warm.

If the other colors you’re working with are crisp, cooler, and more grey, then I lean towards using the black frames.  If you’re going bright white siding or juicer pops of true color like turquoise, yellow, or orange, then black frames also make more sense for a scheme with a lot of contrast. 

Black frames also look incredible with darker siding, as long as you’re not doing true black. Deep charcoal or dark brown really lets those window frames shine.



Dark Brown Exterior Ideas

And there we go – a few easy ways to add some beautiful, rich, Dark Brown to your home’s exterior! 
But if you ever need help with getting your color or details just right, let me know how I can help, and I’ll be there for ya!

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  1. Stacy says:

    If you have a dark brown metal roof and then khaki siding and brick that has been painted some cream collar and I’m gonna put dark shutters what color should I paint the bricks?

    • Mel Sikorski says:

      Stacy, hello! It’s hard to give you a firm answer without totally understanding your home, but I do like to limit any exterior color palette to no more than 3 colors, even if they’re different materials or textures. Usually it’s a dark, a mid and a light. BUT, that’s doesn’t mean that you can’t use lighter or darker versions of the exact same paint color to give your exterior a bit more depth. In your case, I’d look at doing a darker version (or a match) of the roof for the shutters, and then potentially look at doing a lighter version of the khaki siding on the brick. If you know any of the specific paint colors, look at the paint strip in the store and go at least 2 shades lighter or darker but stick with the same strip to keep it all coordinated. I hope this helps!

  2. Karen Daly says:

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing! What color trim is on your last photo showing SW Alabaster siding with the bronze window? The trim color is a touch darker looks great! Is it a SW color? Thanks!

    • Mel Sikorski says:

      Karen, hello! I’m so glad this has helped! On that image, the intention was for the trim to match the siding; I think the texture of the trim is helping it to read just a touch greyer, but that was not the intention. You miiiiiight look at Shoji White, which is a bit more on the grey side – but with white on white it can be super hard to see any different when they get direct sunlight, which is why I usually match the trim. Or at least attempt to – HAHA

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