Choosing a paint color for your den
The concept of a den is warm and cozy; a hideaway to read books, think deep thoughts, sip brandy (or hot chocolate) and basically get away from it all. A den is not a place for loud or flashy color themes or any other distracting design schemes. Harsh overhead lighting is also not called for. All you need are a few, well-placed lamps to shine light on your reading material or to accent the space (track lighting is an effective, unobtrusive way to illuminate your den). A den is a bit like a cozy cave to retreat to whenever you need some down-time, to bond with yourself or a well-chosen companion or two ... it is not a reception hall.
Your den's overall color scheme should be understated, reflecting depth and peace. What better way to achieve this than with cozy earth-tones? When I think of a den, I think of deep, natural wood-tones, a medley of cocoas, tans, browns. Colors that loan a hush to the atmosphere and inspire introspection.
Perhaps your den houses your personal library and art or photo collection. One or more walls may feature bookcases - there may be a home bar set into an alcove, a couple of overstuffed chairs to sink into (a must) and a comfy couch.
If your den is graced with some natural wood finish, and a fireplace or wood-stove, so much the better. It should have a womb-like feel to it. The paint colors you select for your den should never clash with the materials and fixtures - if it's a dash of vivid color you're looking for to accent the surroundings, do it with throw cushions and an interesting rug or two.
Usually, a den is not a very large room, yet it is the perfect space for housing your collection of favorite framed photos, art, mementos, trophies, and literature. There may not be a lot of wall-space left over to make a bold color statement of any kind. Avoid patterned or textured paint effects - stick to understated, solid tones. Avoid brights - even white walls may be too harsh. If you must go for pale-colored walls, select creamy, antique shades, accented with earth-toned trim. Deep, woodsy greens often work well. Plums, burgundy and muted purples can add nice accents. Dusky colors add depth.
Sage, taupe, heather, are all possibilities.
Avoid painting your den walls in any primary colors. There is plenty room for creativity with a soft, muted, dusky palette.
To add interest to your overall color scheme, consider painting one wall a slightly different shade than another. If all your walls are precisely the same color, it can give a "boxed-in" look. If it is browns you are going for, one wall could be a pale cocoa color, while an adjacent wall could be a slightly deeper shade of the same tone. Or consider dusky mauve and a slightly deeper purple; sage and forest green. This is where the fun comes in. You may want to mix your paint shades yourself, to achieve the subtle variations of tone from lighter to darker shades of a favorite wall-color. If so, always be sure to save some of the custom-mixed paint for touch-ups.
Gloss, semi-gloss or matte walls - it's up to you and the effect you wish to achieve. Ceilings should always be painted matte, while trim usually looks best in a gloss. To avoid a low-ceiling effect, ceilings should be painted a tad darker in value than the paints you select for your walls.
If your room has natural wood fixtures, keep them highly polished and select paint shades that compliment, yet offset the woodwork. Nearly all earthy tones are a good choice.
Keep in mind that the overall effect of a brown color scheme is warmer (though denser in effect) than a palette geared towards greens or purple. Don't be afraid of dark, rich colors - this is a den, a cozy retreat; the effect shouldn't be floaty or ephemeral. The effect should be a room you can really sink into, inviting you to ground yourself and relax for a spell.