Yellow is the color that most feels like spring — yellow daffodils, forsythia, crocuses and tulips braving the New England cold to herald the season. Yellow is a timeless color in interiors as well, imbuing rooms with a sunny disposition. But yellows can be tricky. It is very easy to end up with a glaring neon yellow or an acidy greenish yellow when you were aiming for a warm, sunny yellow. As always — there are no truly bad shades, just bad applications.
It took me a while to accommodate yellow. The first house we bought (and the one in which I still live) had all the main spaces painted an unfortunate shade of light yellow with a bit of a green undertone helpfully emphasized by the avocado shag wall to wall carpeting?! This ruined yellow for me for quite a while. A few years later, in the first showhouse I was involved in, I was shocked to see that 95% of the rooms were some variation of yellow — it was having a surge in popularity at the time. It was that showhouse filled with beautiful yellow rooms that changed my attitude toward the color, and I have come to appreciate what yellow can do for a room
Yellow can be added to rooms in large doses with paint or wallpaper, or in small doses in furnishings or accessories.
Beware of taking paint color names too seriously. I once selected a lovely warm saturated yellow color for a contemporary bedroom with a client only to turn the sample over and find it was named '“nacho cheese”?! No color should be named nacho cheese…it is only a step up from naming a color ‘dead salmon’ (what was Farrow and Ball thinking??)
Benjamin Moore’s Hepplewhite Ivory is not ivory at all but really a muted yellow hue.
No discussion of yellow rooms would be complete without the iconic “yellow room” of Nancy Lancaster at Colefax and Fowler. Photo (above left) The World of Interiors Magazine. The wall color of the Writing Room by Andrew Virtue at Greystone Estate is inspired by the Nancy Lancaster room. Image (above right) via Veranda. Rich bright yellows make for dramatic spaces, and seem to be a popular choice in British interiors…perhaps to counteract all the gloomy weather.
Below, Suzanne Lynne’s Manhattan apartment decorated by Kevin Sharkey via Martha Stewart. The buttery shade looks stunning both in the monochromatic room on the left and as a foil for gallery walls filled with black frames. Every room can use a touch of black (see THIS post for more info on the best ways to do that).
The vibrant yellow in the room below might require sunglasses in an empty room, but it is relieved by neutral black and white decor with accents in blues and greens, white millwork, and natural textures like the sisal rug and woven wood blinds for a fresh and energetic space. Don’t judge your paint color prematurely - it will be less intense once all the furniture and decor are back in the room.
If straight yellow paint isn’t appealing, there are a host of beautiful yellow wallpapers that add pattern and/or another color (or colors) to the mix.
Yellow wallpaper options (click on each image for more information):
Yellow Cabinetry and Millwork
Yellow Cabinets and millwork are an interesting departure from the usual whites, creams and neutrals. The lemony cabinets below are paired with black counters and accents and some natural wood tones.
Some yellow accent options (click on each image for more information):
Wishing you a sunny spring!
*Please note that this page contains affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase, I might make a small commission at no extra charge to you.