Decorating with…Yellow!

By Kate Riley July 31, 2013

I’m making my way around the color wheel, continuing with the Color Series today with a look at one of the most fun colors: yellow! Yellow is such a happy shade to decorate with, wouldn’t you agree? When asked what color we think of as the most optimistic, many of us would quickly reply “yellow!”  

Yellow is the color of sunshine and energy, and with it comes creativity and feelings of positivity too. When used effectively, yellow is the perfect punctuation mark. Whether it’s a painted wall or accents you choose, yellow is that one hue that’s sure to bring an uplifting feeling of joy to your home. 

The stucco on our home is a pale shade of yellow, one we chose over twelve years ago and still love to this day. I play off the soft yellow hues with outdoor cushions and pillows in the courtyard. Yellow walls, both interior and exterior, soak up the sun and will always reflect warmth into a space.

sunny yellow walls

yellow paint in bathroom bhg

yellow painted walls

yellow kitchen walls

sunset via my home ideas / better homes & gardens / source unknown / better homes & gardens

When you’re looking at the walls, take your decorating a step beyond just paint and consider wall treatments such as tongue and groove planks or the beautiful motifs found in patterned wallpapers.

yellow paneled walls

yellow wallpaper in bedroom

yellow wallpaper blue door

tom stringer / shelter interiors / suellen gregory design


We’re all familiar with the many uses for fabrics – textiles bring both softness and pattern to a room. Colorful yellow prints make a space cheerful and always a happy place to be.

yellow patterened window panels

heather scott home

yellow chairs in breakfast nook bhg

better homes & gardens

sunny breakfast nook

heydt designs

yellow chevron window panels



Equally as happy in the home are yellow furniture accents that introduce a sunny optimistic vibe.  Whether your style is modern or traditional, furniture wears it well!

yellow barstools bhg

yellow buffet

yellow painted bookshelves bhg

yellow painted furniture

better homes & gardens / lolly jane / better homes & gardens / martha / source unknown


Yellow is fresh and fun when used in “hello look at me” ways, think window frames, kitchen cabinets, and your front door!

yellow window frame yellow kitchen lower cabinets

yellow front door

yellow and gray porch

elle interior / better homes & gardens / tiek built homeshouse of honey


I’ve had a love affair with tufted yellow sofas for years and I’ve decided I must own one someday, in either leather or linen.

yellow tufted sofa

yellow chesterfield sofa

yellow leather sofa

 better homes & gardens/ anthropologie / ambiance images


What colors partner well with yellow? I say all of them! Yellow is really a bright neutral in my book, I can’t think of a color it doesn’t complement!  Pinks, blues, greens, and plums in the right combinations can look so fabulous with yellow, for example . . .

pink and yellow bedroom

s.b. long interiors

yellow wallpaper bhg

better homes & gardens

blue and yellow bedroom

niche interiors

yellow and gray fabrics

thibaut design

plum and yellow

mrs. jones

I think the only thing you have to be careful of when decorating with yellow is using vivid yellow and black alone, it can come across “bumble bee” but when you mix in grays and whites and wood tones, the palette is elegant and even masculine.

yellow leather sofas steven gambrel

Steven Gambrel in NY Mag

My most favorite and sentimental possession is yellow…read about it here.

How have you used yellow to decorate your home?



  1. Love yellow!In my home that’s the primary accent for summer! All your examples are perfect as always Kate! And love your champagne glasses!

  2. I’ve been loving mustard lately. I recently got mustard chevron curtains for my living room and a variety of mustard pillows. Love yellows!

  3. Perfect timing! My husband and I just bought a house, and I’m collecting decorating ideas. First up is my office (I’ll be working from home), and yellow is stuck in my head as the perfect color for it. Now I have some better ideas of how to pair it with my black desk.

  4. I am a yellow lover from way back. I have always used it in my home and outside. Our home is painted yellow with white shutters trimmed in black, inside you will see shades of yellow from vanilla, to maize. I use black and white and blue and white and green and white with my yellow. It makes me happy!! Always has and always will. I have found either you can live with yellow or you can’t, it is one of the hardest colors for most people to actually live with long term.

  5. I painted my studio with vertical stripes of Daffodil yellow and the gorgeous Linen white I saw in your home posts! The floor is a darker wood linoleum, and the desk and bookcase is white. I’m slowly layering in accents of aqua blue. It’s my favorite room in the house!

  6. I’m a recent fan of your wonderful heart warming blog. I can completely relate to the love affair with tufted yellow sofas! I’m remodeling my living room and finally got one! it’s gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing more tips with yellow decorating. I will be incorporating quiet a few in my living room. Hope it turns out to be good!


  7. Have you heard the old saying “A Yellow House is a Happy House.” I always thought they (whoever they were who pointed to yellow houses and made that statement) were talking about the exterior but these inspirations make me think it hold true for inside too.

    My friend has always had a buttery yellow in her houses and always accented with a pure red. I guess that’s old-fashioned?? Didn’t really see it here. She was cottage style before it was cool.

  8. I’ve had Benjamin Moore’s (Vellum) on my living room walls for the past 8 years. Love it! It lends itself beautifully with so many other colours. Kate, I’m sure you’ve heard of BEMZ.COM who specialize in IKEA slipcovers but they also are able to make LINEN slipcovers for any sofa.

  9. I, too, have a yellow-y, golden color on my master bedroom’s walls – Valspar’s Woodlawn Lewis Gold. I have always wanted to pair it with both an orange and aubergine. I am finally on my way to making it happen. Thank you so much for the plum and yellow image, it reaffirmed my desire to incorporate a deep purple in my master bedroom.

  10. Loving the Blue Noe Duvet Cover by Crane and Canopy! And I absolutely LOVE your blog! It’s my very favorite design blog… your style is a perfect match to mine. xoxo

  11. I used Hawthorne Yellow by Benjamin Moore in my son’s room, and still love it. It’s like the color of sunshine, which is perfect since his room only has one window. It pairs really well with the shades of blue in his room.

  12. LOVE yellow. My daughter’s room is Benjamin Moore yellow too. I forgot the exact name, Winter sunshine or something else. Yellow is a happy color. Instant mood booster for me.

  13. Hi Kate,

    I’ve been following you for about a year and love reading your posts. I was wondering if you could answer a quick question? I LOVE the Campaign desk that you painted kelly green and I decided to paint a table/desk with the same paint and color. My desk looks amazing and I love the color but the paint doesn’t seem to be curing? I used the Ben Moore Advance in high gloss. It’s been 4 days and it still isn’t hard. Any thoughts?

    Thank you,

    • Hi Darlene, it takes about a month for it to fully cure, at least that was my experience. But we still have that desk and the surface looks amazing, it is a beautiful hard finish. :)

  14. My earliest memory of my love affair with yellow is when i was 7 and picked out a yellow and white striped wallpaper for my bedroom. my college dorm and every home since then has been yellow with blue and green accents. over the years the shades have change from pineapple yellow and kelly green to golden yellow and cobalt blue to the current iteration of butter yellow, aqua and sage green. yellow is such a cheerful and welcoming color and is a neutral in my book too. the exterior of my house is grey, the front door is yellow and the pillows on the front porch are a gold, charcoal and turquoise ikat. my friends say that my tastes sure are consistent!

  15. So glad to see some ideas with yellow! I moved into an apartment about two weeks ago after selling my house and every wall (ceiling included) is a buttery yellow. Yellow is my least favorite color. Technically, I’m allowed to paint, though everything must be painted back, and with even the ceiling requiring paint to de-yellow I’ve decided to just work with it. I’m leaning towards a mix of global modern with a massive gallery wall and a bolder mix of colors than I might typically gravitate towards. *fingers crossed* I’ll learn to love yellow. :)

  16. Love yellow! the yellow cabinet image next to the yellow dresser is from Ikea but don’t know the image source.

  17. Oh my! Just painted our vacation home yellow (had been builders white) and what a difference! Now want to change our front door like the door in the picture- in fact, my home looks very much like that! Any idea what color it is? Love that it is a strong yellow that carries the house but not a mustard yellow which I don’t want.

  18. These examples are so pretty, but for some unknown reason I cannot live with yellow wall color although I have tried multiple shades! The main reason might be the orientation of my home. After looking at the pictures, however, bright yellow accents paired with grey just might work! Thank you!!

  19. Thank you for featuring the color yellow. I have always loved this color and am trying to figure out how to incorporate it with the current colors in my home (green, blue and violet). I’ve decided to bring in more gold accessories so that I can have some of it around me. As a teen I had a cheery yellow bedroom and it always made me happy to be in there.

  20. Yellow Schmellow – I want the tile in that very first picture!!! OK – the yellow rooms are awesome. But I WANT that tile.

  21. I am a lover of yellow…always have been. When I was a teen and got to help decorate my room I chose yellow walls. It was happy to me and is if the sun was always shining. I paired it with crisp white linens and pops of rich navy. My first car I chose yellow. Not sure I’d drive a yellow car now but at the time I loved it. Your champagne glasses are gorgeous Kate!

  22. All of these shades of yellow are delicious, the yellow combinations are even better. I love yellow, But I’m scared to death to use it. I had a disaster happen with yellow when I was doing my daughter’s bedroom. The cheery yellow shade I’d loved at the paint store dried to a nauseating grey yellow. So, I re-primed the walls and chose a lighter shade of yellow which dried to a dull beige. What was happening?! So, re-primed again and this time decided on a fizzy apricot shade that we both loved. Now, my husband and I have chosen a yellowish honey cream for our kitchen. We’ve painted various sized swatches of it all over the room. We like it, but are afraid to make the commitment.

  23. I love yellow. We’ve painted the exterior of two out of three of the houses we’ve ever owned yellow. The third one would have been painted yellow too, if we had lived there long enough! My master Bed & Bath in a vacation home is Yellow & Black & White…..I dont see an example of that combo in your post though….I’ll have to go back and look again.

  24. What a happy post!! I think my next big “color change” in my house will be with yellow!! I don’t know how but I’ll make it work :)
    thanks for the beautiful pics

  25. What a happy post!! I think my next big “color change” in my house will be with yellow!! I don’t know how but I’ll make it work :)
    thanks for the beautiful pics

  26. What a FUN post! I just LOVE all of your simple, practical, and adorable ideas! You are so inspiring and I appreciate your creativity! Thank you.

  27. Some cool ideas hun. I really love the yellow, makes any room seem so much brighter and personally lifts my spirits – It is perfect for a sun room.

  28. Thank you so much for this post! Perfect timing! I am about to partially reno a bathroom that currently has yellow tile (not my preference but we are moving) and I needed some ideas and inspiration. For me, it’s such a cheery/tropical colour that I enjoy in small pops here and there.
    Thanks again!

  29. Yellow is really my favorite and I remember that ‘Lonny’ living room well! I love all the combos and have had two houses with at least one room with a bright yellow paint. It is an easy and happy color to live with – I know some people don’t like it, but, I can’t figure out why! I also did a makeover of a table in yellow that was my favorite. I had a living room that was yellow with red accents – probably a little bit of a ‘dated’ color scheme now…I would probably do yellow + white now. See my blog for the table makeover (

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