Decorating with Chocolate: 12 Ways to Soothe a Style Craving with a Delicious Color

Walk into any store or turn a page in almost any magazine this month and witness the very publicly celebrated relationship between chocolate and pleasure. As award-winning food photographer Karl Petzke attests, “Chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification and love.” In the design world, the color chocolate seems to infuse a space with many of these same attributes. The deep neutral hue is rich and romantic, as sophisticated as it is earthy. Timeless and flexible, it has the ability to smoothly span decades and decorative styles. From paint to paper, carpeting to lighting, table to bed, chocolate brown has such sweet swagger.

Palette Pleaser

Neutral Brown

“Chocolate is warm and neutral by nature, so it sets a mood well,” says Gretchen Schauffler, founder and creative director of Devine Color, a line of color-illuminating, ultracreamy paint formulas. “For me, it has more depth and breadth for design than gray, and can easily take the place of gray without looking sterile or gloomy.”

Devine Color

Mouthwatering Color

Chocolate Square

Just as there are many types of chocolate for the tasting, there are visible variations too. “It varies with visual hints of plum, pepper, berries, and caramel,” explains Schauffler, of Devine Color. Chocolate brown, from midrange mochas to bitter dark, is somewhat subject to interpretation and always a delicious decorating tool.

Benjamin Moore “Chocolate Truffle”

Afraid of the Dark

Brown and White

For those who are tempted to paint or paper in this posh brown but fear it might be too dark, just add doses of white for contrast and lightness. White—be it in fabrics, furniture, artwork, or especially trim—brightens a space immediately. A little bit of shimmer or pop of a bold color won’t hurt either!

Related: 12 Reasons to Embrace the Elegance of Black and White

SR Interiors

Cocoa Wallpaper

Cocoa Wallpaper

This nature-inspired Tree Silhouette wallpaper design from York Wallcoverings uses plenty of warm cream to offset the dark chocolate ground. While the deep brown is still soothing, the light contrast lends a fresh, modern energy—any protest of “too dark” just melts away.

Related: 10 Wallpaper Options to Trick the Eye

York Wall

Gender Neutral

Brown Girls Room

Dark brown, a traditionally masculine shade, has transitioned beautifully to public domain, as women claim the bold color for rooms of their own. From linen-tufted headboards to the piping around a bench, this minky hue is popular in boudoirs, dressing rooms, and little girls’ rooms, and goes famously with all shades of pink as well as pretty pastels such as mint, peach, and lavender.

Related: 10 Unexpected Spots for an Accent Color

In My Room

Deep Chocolate

Shades of Brown

A common color myth suggests that dark colors make rooms appear smaller, when in fact the opposite is true. A dark, saturated hue, such as chocolate brown, will make a small room feel larger if used correctly. A dark ceiling or niche, for example, feels infinite when painted a darker color, especially one that also adds richness and warmth to a space.

Related: Winning Combinations: 9 "Can't Miss" Color Schemes

Pinterest via Dawn Cook Interiors

Chocolate Spell

Brown and Gray

Cheryl Eisen, New York City’s go-to girl for high-end real estate staging, wants potential buyers to fall in love with the interiors she creates. Her strategy is clear, her palette is edited, and chocolate is always part of the plan. Besides its luxe organic vibe, this alluring neutral takes the chill off of the cool grays that Eisen also favors.

Related: How To: Make Your Own Milk Paint

Rich Caplan for Interior Marketing Group NYC

Good Taste

Good Taste

For his elaborate salon-style art wall, Ted Kennedy Watson, celebrated retailer and author of Style & Simplicity: An A to Z Guide for Living a More Beautiful Life,” chose the darkest earth tone and then framed various artworks in black to create a sense of uniformity. Watson says, “The chocolate brown works beautifully with black, and sort of becomes a cocoon around each framed piece.”

Jane Dagmi

Floored by Chocolate

Chocolate Floors

Dark wood floors provide a versatile foundation for any kind of lifestyle. When matte or wide-planked, they have a rustic air; highly polished, they feel more exotic and elegant. Whether casual or refined, chocolate-colored wood flooring goes with everything, pairing spectacularly with other neutrals, metallics, and jewel tones.

Related: Wood Flooring 101

Rich Caplan for Interior Marketing Group NYC

Chocolate Hearth

Chocolate Tiles

The kitchen, with an abundance of white cabinetry, marble, and stainless steel appliances, can often feel cold. Chocolatey brown ceramic tile, however, is one beautiful way to balance the color and reclaim some earthy warmth. Fireclay Tile's offerings come in over 114 lead-free artisanal glazes, including a wide selection of brown. Tiles are made in California from a mix of locally sourced recycled materials and clay.

Related: Subway Tiles: The New Classics

Fireclay Tile

Dream Appliances

Brown Fridge

Accented with a gold-tone handle and iconic logo, Smeg’s fashionably sleek and retro chocolate brown fridge has a totally glam look. This cool color pairs famously with both modern and industrial kitchens and complements neutral and bright colors alike.

Related: Kitchen Envy: 10 Rooms We Love

Just an Accent

Brown Armoire

For those who love the look of chocolate, but resist its sweet temptation, there are ways—through textiles, furniture, decor, and art—to go a little bit “cocoa loco” without overindulging. For example, a large chocolate brown armoire totally anchors this room and becomes a focal point.

Related: Drab to Fab: 10 Fantastic Furniture Makeovers

House Beautiful

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