Colour Block: Decorating with Yellow

5 November 2012  |  Helen

Yellow is quite iconic, when you think about it. Flag a cab in New York and be greeted by a canary yellow taxi-cab. Watch autumn leaves turn that ever familiar dusky-lemon tone. And the Wizard of Oz wouldn't be the same without the famous yellow brick road. In fact yellow is so ubiquitous that even the Beatles and Coldplay have written songs about it (We All Live in a Yellow Submarine and Yellow, respectively).


What colours work best with Yellow?

Decorating with yellow can be a challenge - but it is a challenge definitely worth taking when the end results can be so glamorous, fresh and modern. When working with yellow you have to make sure that it becomes the star of the show. Your best bet is mixing yellow with soft, dusky neutral tones, such as whites, beiges, mushroom, fawn or taupe shades. Yellow also looks sensational with darker brown tones, which adds extra impact.

Home-Office Chic

Yellow in this home-office space immediately transforms the look of this room, changing what would have been a safe (or boring?) design into something with immediate impact and personality. I love what the yellow has done to this room - if those sliding doors were in white then the room would have looked washed out - in grey the room would have looked cold and heartless. This beautiful mustard tone really 'pops' and adds life and soul to a very modern, minimal space. Keeping the walls and floor bright white really allows the yellow to sing, and gives a fresh, clean look. The carefully selected storage boxes and files in black and white are also a nice touch. However this use of yellow is quite dramatic, and is only recommended for those who want to make a bold statement.

Colour Co-ordinating with Yellow

This is perhaps my most favourite use of yellow in an interior design scheme. The mustard yellow armchair looks so fresh and modern, and your eye is immediately drawn to this chair which makes you appreciate its unique form and design more so than if it was upholstered in the usual black, grey or brown. And the simple addition of 2 scatter cushions upholstered in the same yummy shade of yellow really ties together the whole look of this room, for instant Italian-chic. The light grey-taupe tone of the sofa really softens and tones down the drama of the brighter colours, which brings all-important harmony and balance to the room.

Accessorising with Yellow

If you love yellow but don't want to commit to a large statement piece in such a bold colour choice then it is a lot safer and easier to introduce yellow with some carefully considered accessories. This fawn suede sofa is paired with a deep brown rug, which nicely compliment the white floor and walls. However what really ties together the whole look of this room are the small yellow clock and hour glass - these small, subtle accessories add a zesty punch of mustard yellow, livening up what could have been a quite bland and insipid room.

Splashes of Yellow

Another way to subtly bring yellow into your home is to incorporate it within your furniture, but in small flashes of colour rather than large blocks of yellow. This sideboard is mainly a dark oak finish on the exterior area, but exciting splashes of yellow are added to the open sections adding drama, personality and warmth. Again, the neutral tones of the floors and walls really allow the sideboard to take centre stage creating a harmonious, contemporary look.

The harmonious coupling of the mink brown with mustard yellow really is a treat to the eye. This colour combination feels warm, inviting and definitely makes a statement. Again, the yellow offset with white walls and white accessories inside the shelves. I particularly like the bold splash of canary yellow on the adjacent wall - this could have been overkill but somehow it works in the context of this room. Adding a yellow feature wall in your home is also a relatively easy and low risk way of adding yellow into your interior scheme with interesting results to be had.

So to recap, yellow can be stunning so long as it becomes the main point of focus within a colour scheme. If you are choosing to decorate with yellow then compliment it with whites, taupes, and various shades of brown. Don't be afraid to experiment with cushions, rugs, vases, clocks and other ornaments in shades of yellow, and if you're feeling brave choose an eye-catching statement piece (such as an armchair or TV unit) in a beautiful mustard shade to really add an individual and unique look to your interior.