3 June 2021
If, as many environmental psychologists argue, certain colours evoke particular emotional responses then yellow must surely be associated with joy. It suggests sunlight, energy and being wide awake.
Introducing yellow into home décor should be handled with care because it’s a colour that attracts the eye and can dominate if overdone. We have collected seven ideas to make life easier for all those who need more yellow in their lives.
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We all live in a yellow submarine
From cultural references to the natural world we are surrounded by yellow. Just thinking about yellow feels instantly optimistic; sunlight, gold, lemons, flowering blooms etc. But as with all things design related, moderation is the key to using yellow indoors. For interior design featuring yellow as a colour works best when used as a complementary tone. A colour kept under control, used sparsely but wisely. Less is more with yellow, get it right and a pop of yellow can visually open a room to let in the light. Overdo it and yellow can be overpowering!
From wall finishes like tiling, wallpaper and paint to upholstery, soft furnishings and plants,… there are numerous ways that yellow can be featured in home interiors. Remember that yellow is a primary colour, used to produce other colours. Mix with blue to cool it down and red will warm it up. The following seven ideas are a good place to start for fans of yellow décor or for anyone who wants to just dip their feet into yellow.
Because we spend almost one-third of our lives in the bedroom, albeit asleep, the décor deserves special attention. The bed, its mattress and headboard together with the bedside tables and reading lights are the main design elements to get right in the bedroom.
Fabrics and soft furnishings are also important and given that they are regularly changed or recovered, present an ideal opportunity for using yellow. Pattern fabrics including yellow, cushions and yellow as a block colour, with no motif, used sparingly can give an oomph to bedroom décor.
The bathroom is the one room in the home where we can afford to be a little more adventurous with the décor. Not simply because it’s normally smaller than other rooms but because it’s a space where we need a bit of a lift, whether that be relaxing in the bath, an invigorating shower or a pamper session in front of the mirror.
For a small en-suite or courtesy bathroom be generous, yellow wall tiles, wallpaper print or paint can provide character. For a larger bathroom combine yellow planes with other more neutral tones, maybe a shower cubicle or a dado rail. Accessories in yellow can fulfil the same function of lifting the bathroom décor and introducing a ray of sunshine.
Tiled splashbacks, light fittings, kitchen utensils, fabrics and upholstery are among the many ways that yellow can be introduced into the kitchen décor. It should be remembered that although yellow describes a certain wavelength of light there is any number of yellow tones; mustard yellow, butter yellow, corn yellow and honey yellow.
There’s a reason why these tones are named after foods and fruits, it’s because together with red it is one of the main food colours. Yellow evokes feelings of comfort and attracts the eye, these two properties make some use of yellow in the kitchen a good idea.
While an entire room enclosed by yellow walls might be over the top an accent wall or an upholstered armchair will add verve to a living room décor. Fresh cut flowers and plants with yellow tones will also do the trick in adding life and vivacity to even the most tired interior.
Tip: the chimney breast is an ideal area of the living room to experiment with colour. Firstly, because it’s normally delimited by the width of the fire, and secondly because normally its stands into the room and has volume. Porcelain tiles in a marble or stone effect can make a statement and help make a room feel larger if surrounding walls are kept neutral. The image shows a yellow marble effect with patterned veins that align.
Something to keep in mind:
Magnolia is infamous as the most popular colour for walls (usually with woodchip wallpaper) among landlords in the UK. It is yellowish-white, considered to be neutral and not oppressive. Contemporary yellows, however, are much more interesting, running the spectrum from bold to comforting.
Nobody should be put off using yellow because of its past associations.
Yellow is considered the most visible colour in the spectrum, that’s the reason why traffic signs and Hi-Vis vests are yellow because we see them more easily on the periphery of our vision. So then having pops of yellow combined with other decorative elements scattered around different rooms in the house is another great way to introduce the colour.
A vase of yellow blooms, a picture or mirror frame, glassware or ornaments, the trick is to work yellow into the décor in a subtle yet impacting way.
Another approach that will make yellow stand out as a statement colour is through the surrounding environment where it’s featured. A mid-tone or darker grey wall will help an armchair or dining chair upholstered in a yellow hue really stand out.
Yellows that have a greater degree of red tend to be warmer and easier to combine with other shades. Along the same lines, creams and off whites will also make yellow furniture and accessories stand out.
Yellow is an important component in the colour range of many metals including gold, brass and bronze. Electrical artefacts such as light switches and sockets, together with ironmongery and metallic trims are another great option for decorating with yellow.
Historical use of gold: The Georgians were fond of covering the edges of their wall mouldings with gilt, this would be picked up by the candlelight and shimmer in the evening when most of the entertaining was done impressing guests and opening up the interiors.
The key word is sparingly. Small spaces where we don’t spend so much time can take a lot of yellow, pantries, WCs, the insides of closets etc. But for larger living spaces less is more. Yellow is a colour best suited to accents, accessories and decorative elements. A little goes far, remember above all other tones yellow can be a great bright colour to transform drab spaces.
Neutral colours or non colours are great for highlighting yellow. Greys and blacks especially, but even white and cream colours create the same effect. Combining yellow with colours that are sympathetic to the shade of yellow is also a fail safe approach, i.e. mustard yellow and ochre goes well with red shades, while green compliments a bluish yellow.