For years, shades of watered-down brown were the go-to choice for risk-averse homeowners. Need to prep a house for a sale? Slather the walls with beige. Want to give your home a vaguely Tuscan feel? Turn to taupe.
Sure, these bland brownish hues go with anything, but they’re severely lacking in the personality department.
So we were frankly rather shocked to see that a new twist on brown has taken the lead in today’s home decor: Sherwin-Williams has named Cavern Clay SW 7701—a warm terra-cotta shade reminiscent of sunsets in the desert—its 2019 Color of the Year.
This earthy brown is miles away from boring beige. It’s part of today’s trend of leaning into our love of all things natural.
“Cavern Clay is an easy way to bring the warmth of the outdoors in,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Envision beaches, canyons and deserts, and sun-washed, late-summer afternoons—all of this embodied in one color.
“I’ve been seeing this color pop up everywhere—from fashion to home decor to accessories,” she adds. Indeed, she spotted this aesthetic, which she calls “cowgirl chic,” on the runways of Fall Fashion Week 2018 and instantly thought it should take a starring role in our homes.
Cavern Clay is a bold contrast to recent years of saturated jewel tones. Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018 was a vibrant, amethystlike Ultra Violet, and Sherwin-Williams’ 2018 pick, Oceanside, was a sumptuous mixture of blue and green.
Those rich hues aren’t fading into black anytime soon; Wadden predicts we’ll continue seeing saturated tones dominate. But she says homeowners will appreciate Cavern Clay because it’s “more warm and elemental and rooted in the earth.”
Not sure how to integrate this shade into your personal space? Try these ideas on for size.
1. Pair with modern accents
To complement this nouveau-chic shade, pair it with modern accents.
On the backsplash, subway tiles arranged in a herringbone pattern keep this kitchen from looking dated. While the bar stools and lights add their own rustic style—with wooden seats and iron framing—their lines are entirely contemporary.
“This color’s resurgence is made contemporary with clean lines and modern shapes,” says Wadden.
2. Embrace Southwestern textiles
Southwestern style is currently oh so chic, and Cavern Clay’s umber ambiance certainly plays to that in a way that feels entirely contemporary.
Consider going all-out with your desert vibes by picking patterned textiles that invoke a Western feel: Try banded geometric or tessellating Ganado-style patterns in toned-down, complementary shades.
Light-wood furniture keeps the look from going over the top. And don’t skip the greenery. Fun, leafy plants perfect the space.
3. Keep the rest neutral
Cavern Clay may be a brownish hue, but it’s still a saturated tone. Unless you’re careful, pairing it with bold neons or velvety blues could create a riot of color that’s, well, too riotous.
“Cavern Clay ties really well with a natural palette,” Wadden says. “It goes great with gray, too.”
Soften the shade with white molding and plain textiles. Here, a gray blanket perfectly softens the dramatic look, so the room still feels Southwestern—but not overwhelmingly so.
It also pairs well with deeps browns such as Sherwin-Williams’ Moth Wing SW 9174, Wadden says. Feeling bold? Consider a modern update of ’70s earth tone combinations by pairing Cavern Clay with a dusty denim blue or even a fresh avocado.
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