Decorating in Yellow

Yellow is the color of flowers, lemons, and sunshine, offering fresh appeal in each of its many variations, and can be used in any room for an infusion of sunny decor.

Debra Wittrup


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Top-to-Bottom Yellow
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Top-to-Bottom Yellow

    Painting this kitchen didn't stop at the walls. A lighter shade of yellow was applied to the ceiling for added visual presence as a sunny cap on this already cheery kitchen. Yellow is repeated in the tone of the light oak flooring, creating a cohesive look from floor to ceiling.

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Sunny Stripes

    In clothing, vertical stripes have a slimming effect. In decor, they have an elongating effect that gives the appearance of added height. The variegated stripe of this wallpaper brings subtle pattern to the wall, and the golden yellow and white colorway complements the cobalt blue rug.

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Going Green

    The pretty floral fabric on the pillow inspired the color scheme for this living room. Yellows, greens, and hints of red on a white ground provide a fresh start for a decorating palette. The yellow appears in the form of buttery walls in a strie treatment, then flows to mingle with green and hints of pink in the striped curtain panels. A green upholstered sofa offers a cool complement to the warm yellow.

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Yellow as a Neutral

    In a room filled with interesting textures and architectural details, color becomes a secondary element. White trim and millwork, cognac-color leather wingback chairs, and honey-hue wood floors create a classic look, all supported by wheat-yellow walls in the background.

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Spotlight on Color

    Without an element of surprise, a room can fall flat. Give traditional spaces, such as this combined kitchen and breakfast room, life by adding bold color and personality pieces. Perky yellow walls set the stage for a colorful combo at the breakfast table. Orange banquette cushions are dotted with bright pillows in orange, yellow, and blue, a hue that is echoed in the glass tile backsplash. Orange Eiffel chairs and a white drum table add a modern sensibility to the traditional architecture. A sculptural dandelion pendant fixture looks like a flower in a sunny meadow against the yellow walls.

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Warm Conversation

    In a kitchen made for friendly conversation, yellow is an inviting and encouraging hue. A fresh straw color bathes the walls and furniture in soft tones. Ample seating allows family and guests to keep the chef company. Upholstered armchairs face the island, and a low upholstered bench keeps an open view across the table to the yellow-covered dining chairs. Warm copper-hue pillows and leather ottoman inject deep color that blends with the yellow in the room.

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Glazed Look

    Yellow glaze gives these sitting-room walls a translucent look. Dominated by the vibrant citrus-hue painting, the walls provide a sunny backdrop for a white slipcovered sofa, bookcases of prized possessions, and an immense fireplace. Yellow plaids add pattern to the window shade, rug, and chair cushion. Chipper notes of cool blue come from a smaller painting over the fireplace and a large glazed ceramic vase.

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Warm and Rich

    Setting up contrasts -- old and new, modern and classic, upholstery and wood, cool and warm tones -- gives a room energy because they?re unexpected. In this charming living room, warm gold matches up with cool blue and welcomes pops of orange and pink. Golden yellow bathes the walls in a sunset glow and covers the furniture in inviting upholstery. A pair of wood-frame chairs from a discount store get dressed up with backs recovered in a blue velvet floral fabric. Blue and gold blend again in the striped drapery panels.

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Distinctly Different

    The yellow and green backsplash tile was the inspiration for the color scheme in this inviting kitchen. For a sunny feel, the lower cabinets are painted a mustard yellow. To keep the bright shade from overpowering the room, the upper cabinets are painted a warm off-white. Textured green marble tops the cabinetry and adds character to the colorful room. Corner windows flood the space with natural light, and salvaged antique oak provides a warm base on the floor.

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Cozy Nook

    Carve a corner out of a room for an intimate reading nook. Paint the walls a warm and cheerful canary yellow to give the space an eternally sunny disposition -- especially if you?re not fortunate to have a nearby window like this corner does. Cover a cushion in a deeper amber hue, and skirt the seat for hidden storage underneath. Pile on charm with pillows in analogous blue and green.

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Lively Palette

    Goldenrod hues bathe this living room in warm, summery color. Solid yellow chairs, drapery panels, and walls are jazzed up with frolicking red, pink, and green florals that band the panels, accent the pillows, and hang on the wall. A large textural red rug warms things up underfoot. To keep the space from becoming too hot, the white trim, ceiling, and fireplace surround tone down the vibrant color. A few discreet pops of blue add cool notes.

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Warming Trend

    Although not typically associated with warm and cozy interiors, midcentury modern furnishings can be decidedly snug with an infusion of warm colors. Vivid yellow blankets an accent wall in this living room, while throws and pillows in analogous oranges and reds enliven a comfy brown linen sofa. Pattern is layered through the pillows, textiles, and art. White on adjacent walls and the center coffee table prevent the color from overheating the room.

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Go for the Gold

    Honey tones abound in this warm and inviting living room. Horizontally striped armchairs encapsulate the color palette that begins with lighter golden yellow on the walls and moves through butterscotch tones in the patterned rug to the loveseats upholstered in deep golden tweed. The palette benefits from the pop of bright orange and coral pillows on the loveseats. Golden metal accents reflect light and bestow a sense of elegance.

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Vibrant Choice

    Move to the bold end of the yellow spectrum for a real punch. Blue and white accents pop against the school-bus yellow walls of this traditional dining room.

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Farm Fresh

    A bench nestled under a bank of windows provides the basis for an expansive dining area in this large country kitchen. Yellow was an ideal choice for walls in a location that gets plenty of sun in the summer but needs a cheery hue during the dark gray winters. The off-white trim and ceiling emphasize the warmth of the hue. Dark woods, a russet color wool rug, sturdy Windsor chairs, and simple pendant lights in green glass are in keeping with the old farmhouse style of the kitchen and breakfast area.

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Pastels Grow Up

    A pastel palette rich in yellow and blue humanizes the large scale of this living room and imparts a cottage vibe. Walls are painted in a pale yellow to let accents and furnishings pop. The blues veer toward sea blue rather than baby blue to avoid an overly sweet color palette. Stylish plaid and striped fabrics on tailored furnishings lend a grown-up, elegant tone to the pastel scheme.

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Country Charm

    Golden-hue dishes, when displayed in a unique cabinet like this, can add so much life to a dining room or kitchen. All the natural wood elements and distressed finishes keep the space feeling warm and rustic.

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Neutral Pairings

    Touches of yellow bring a little brightness to this neutral bedroom. The graphic patterns on the bedding combine yellow with lots of blue and beige, striking a balance between masculine and feminine. Clean lines on the headboard and bench give the room a contemporary feel.

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All Arranged

    Put some personality in your living room with a colorful palette and art arrangement. Butter-yellow walls are the basis of this color scheme. A grid of black-and-white photographs uniformly framed in white are matted in white, yellow, and blue above a brown sofa. Pretty pillows in blue, brown, and yellow bring color to the neutral furniture. A blue side table supports a lemon-yellow lamp, while matching blue nesting tables float on a geometric hooked rug in yellow, blue, orange, and green.

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Mix-and-Match Style

    One of the best qualities of the color yellow is that it goes great with nearly every other color -- white, orange, green, pink, blue, brown. Pick one or two shades of yellow to use as accents, plus a dark neutral, and include doses of white for a balanced color palette.

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One-of-a-Kind Space

    A unique collection of favorite pieces combine to create this eclectic living room. A yellow pillow mimics the pattern of a similar, yet different green-and-white one. Other touches of yellow can be found on the chair fabric, on the large W on the bookshelf, and in some of the room's artwork

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Bring the Outdoors In

    Pulled off a patio or sunroom and placed by a sofa, a wicker table helps carry off a fresh garden look initiated by a riotously colorful drapery fabric. Surrounded by a neutral base of pale yellow walls, white sofa, and putty-color table, the fabric, yellow throw, and yellow floral pillow set the tone for this living room. Collectible yellow McCoy pieces accent the table, adding personality with the color. A bright orange pillow on the sofa pulls a secondary color from the vivid curtains.

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Sunny Disposition

    Painting the walls of this small bath a cheery yellow ensures that the room always looks sunny. Existing black and white tiles were in good condition, so they became part of the new color scheme. Punches of red, such as the striped stool fabric and the funky Roman shade, accent the palette. Wall decals suggest a pricey wallpaper and enliven the yellow walls without the moisture concern of real wallpaper.

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