While grey has been trending as the neutral of choice in recent years, brown will eternally be a neutral of neutrals. That being said, some brown tones and shades are more timeless than others, and espresso color is just such a shade. Just as its name suggests, espresso color is reminiscent of roasting coffee beans and the resulting espresso – that color between brown and black that works beautifully as either one.
The rich depth of espresso brown color pairs anchors nearly any visual space. That’s why pairing it with some metallic components, such as an espresso lamp shade with a gold or brass lamp base, strikes a great aesthetic balance.
One of the primary reasons that espresso color is so versatile and relevant as a neutral (all neutrals are versatile, of course – that’s what makes them neutral) is its richness and depth. Espresso is such a dark brown that it’s almost black.
In fact, in some settings, it’s hard to distinguish between whether you’re looking at espresso or black. That’s the beauty of this color. In places where black might feel simply too heavy but any lighter shade would contradict the space’s vibe, espresso steps in to strike the perfect balance and blend.
Some people might worry that espresso won’t work in their design because it isn’t true black. But the color’s versatility allows it to successfully be used in a variety of ways. So, unless the espresso colored piece will be exposed to direct sunlight, you needn’t worry about the variance.
Other names for espresso color include mocha, chocolate, and espresso. Often, paint brands will have their own version of/name for espresso color. But the concept behind the hue is the same – that deep brown that feels cozy and warm while still looking contemporary and clean.
In the world of design, pieces will be listed as “black” color when they are actually espresso. In fact, jet black finishes are less common than espresso finishes, despite what the color listing says. As mentioned previously, lighting (including direct sunlight) plays a key role in how the color actually reads in a space.
Espresso color provides a gorgeous, grounding appearance when paired with brighter, bolder, or even truer colors. On this wall art combination, for example, espresso color bridges the gaps between the color blocking and gives that deep, solid foundation without looking heavy.
Espresso color also looks rich and gorgeous all on its own. It has the capacity to feel warm and welcoming while also retaining a sense of sophistication and elegance. Few colors strike that chord as intuitively as does espresso.
When paired with other browns, espresso color becomes the “adult” in the room, as far as color goes. The monochromatic brown space that incorporates espresso color automatically has depth and balance. It might be a good idea to select the espresso pieces carefully – with simple, clean lines – so they don’t overpower by nature of their darkness.
Much of the warmth of espresso’s aesthetic is a result of its inherent chocolate tones. Sometimes, in certain direct lighting, espresso color can have hints of reddish hues. Regardless, the color truly looks like a cup of dark joe, maybe with a swirl of creamer.
In a space that has the potential to read as young, juvenile, and/or busy, espresso color is an excellent choice to lend an appropriate and stylish dose of gravity. This is particularly true when the color is used on statement or unique furniture.
The richness of espresso color makes a lovely pairing with visually lighter weight components. This sofa exemplifies this balance beautifully; notice how the bright lighting makes the color’s reddish tints come through, more so than the deeper blackish tones.
Espresso began trending more in the design world a couple of years ago, reaching a high popularity in 2014 and 2015 because of its modern, chic, and bold appearance. Finishes of espresso color on furniture, accessories, and lighting have become more popular, and thus more common, recently.
One classic color combination that involves espresso color includes espresso and some version of cream or ivory. Simplicity and minimalism are inherent with each color, and this remains true when they’re combined. The warm, modern look of espresso pairs beautifully with the clean elegance of cream.
As we’ve discussed, espresso color can certainly hold its own in great design. Some of the color palettes that contrast well with espresso include green-grey, blue-grey, light olive, and mint green. Because of espresso’s dominance as a color, a softer contrast color becomes almost an accent color.
To create a serene, moody retreat, don’t be afraid to combine dark, deep shades on floor, walls, and furniture. Espresso color, a deep slate blue, and rich mahogany make a beautiful color palette for just such a space.
In smaller, more confined spaces, espresso pieces tend to look more like the black side of the spectrum than brown. Painting the walls and shelving on those walls all in espresso color (in other words, an espresso monochromatic space) makes the space feel smaller yet cozier and more somber and intimate.
Espresso makes a gorgeous shaded (or tinted) glass. As a glass coffee table, this is an excellent option because it carries with it a similar translucency for an airier feel, but the deep espresso color makes it more substantive. The juxtaposition of traits is striking in this modern setup.
Of course, just because espresso color isn’t a version of grey itself, that doesn’t mean the two can’t be paired together. In fact, the combination of espresso with a lovely warm, medium grey is practically neutral heaven, like this curvy grey love seat and the geometric espresso stools.