How to Decorate With Yellow - Do's and Don'ts

How to Decorate With Yellow
How to Decorate With Yellow. ©HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams

Yellow is a popular accent color in decorating. With a focus on neutral colors in decorating, you don’t see true yellow used as the main color in many rooms. If you love yellow and would like to use more of it at home but are afraid that it will be too bright, you can learn basic tips that can help you choose the right yellow easily. 

DON’T be afraid to use a true yellow if you really love the color.

Yellow is one of those colors many people love, but area unsure about using it at home because it bucks the neutral color trend.

DO take the time to compare and sample all kinds of yellow before making a final choice. While most yellows can look interchangeable at first, subtle differences can mean the difference between a gorgeous room and a repainting project. 

DO think outside of the box when it comes to using yellow. If a yellow sofa is too bold for your room, try adding it as an accent with painted furniture, light fixtures, and other unexpected pops of color.

DON’T forget yellow if your room is lacking natural light. Yellow is a mood-booster, and can fool the eye into feeling the effects of sunshine in a dark or north-facing room. The secret is to use a soft yellow in a dark room, instead of using a super bright color. The lack of light can cast a gray shadow on bright yellow, making it feel garish and unnatural.

Go for a hint of sunshine, not a blaze.

DO consider yellow and gold if you’re looking for a warm neutral. Beige and taupe are the typical go-to neutral, but warm golds and yellows can be every bit as versatile in a neutral color scheme

DO your homework on recognizing the undertones in yellow. Learn to spot the differences between the influence of green or red on yellow.

Yellow can also be muted with gray, giving it a dull look that could easily drag down your color scheme. By comparing the colors you are considering together, you can spot undertone issues easily.

DO pair yellow in unexpected ways. Yellow and gray is an unexpected and gorgeous contemporary color combination. A clear yellow can be paired with navy blue for a crisp and classic palette. In a white or neutral room, yellow can be paired with pink or fuchsia for a fun and fresh palette. 

DO consider using a color wheel when creating a color scheme containing yellow. The complementary color scheme of violet and yellow is a vibrant and energetic scheme. A toned-down scheme with pale yellow and lavender, can be cheerful and natural. 

DON’T forget that the colors coming in from outside, or from flooring or cabinets can affect the yellow in your home. Like decorating with green, yellow is particularly susceptible to the influence of the foliage outside your window. This situation can be easily overlooked. Try out any yellow paint or furnishings in the room, and in natural and evening lighting to get the most accurate view. 

DO pay attention to color names if you're choosing yellow paint. Even if you can't immediately identify the undertone of a yellow color, the name can provide a clue.

If you're viewing the color on a paint strip of graduated shades, look to the darkest color at the bottom, as it will most often show you the undertones of the colors on the strip.