This spicy shade of yellow is everywhere this summer. Here's how to decorate with the sunny color both indoors and out.

By Elizabeth Sweet
July 16, 2020
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Somewhere on the color wheel between yellow and orange lives the perfect sunset shade. Dubbed marigold or mustard by design pros and paint experts, this warm color conjures up memories of groovy '70s interiors. But the sunny shade is trending once again, and this time it's anything but retro.

Today’s mustard paint colors and home accessories provide warmth with a jolt of modern energy. However, Nivara Xaykao, associate manager of color marketing and development at Benjamin Moore, says the shade takes careful consideration and expertise to get it right. “The color is very decadent, a stylish alternative to gold,” she says. “Using a bright, primary yellow is almost expected these days, but using a deep, earthy mustard hue in a fresh way takes a lot of finesse.” 

Kritsada Panichgul

How to Add Mustard Yellow to Your Home

If you're looking to energize your home's interior with warm yellow decor, Xaykao stresses the importance of balance. “Like any yellow, proportion is key,” she says. “It’s easier to use the color on all four walls if the furniture and accessories in the room are understated and relatively neutral." Xaykao recommends limiting the color to an accent wall like a kitchen backsplash or to a piece of furniture if you are apprehensive or already have a lot going on in the room.

For a small pop of color in an otherwise neutral space, Savannah-based interior designer Lily Brown placed velvet yellow chairs around a client’s dining table. What made marigold yellow the right fit? “I knew I wanted it to be masculine and a bit formal but I did not want it to be too serious,” she said, “I think that yellow is unexpected but can be so sophisticated when done right.”

Wondering where to use mustard yellow? The happy color works well in nearly any room. Nicole Gibbons, interior designer and founder of Clare Paint, recommends it for "any space you want to feel bright and cheery." Whether you use it in large or small doses will depend on your personality and preferences. “It depends on your appetite for color,” she says. “I love going bold with color so I say go for it and paint your whole space! But if you’re less adventurous when it comes to color, try an accent wall.”

5 Ways to Get the Look: Mustard-Yellow Design Ideas

Use these trusted interior design tips to bring this warm shade of yellow into your home.

Ty Cole, Courtesy of Sarah Jacoby

1. Make Built-Ins a Focal Point

For a recent gut-renovation project of a family’s Prospect Park apartment, Brooklyn-based architect Sarah Jacoby created an open-plan living space with bright, energizing colors. Jacoby used Benjamin Moore’s Sun Porch 2023-30 to highlight the homeowner’s book collection and add personality. “This color offered us a simple way to brighten a once overlooked area of the apartment and effectively activated more usable space,” she says.

Susan Salomon

2. Bring Mustard Into the Kitchen

This rich color can create a cozy yet interesting kitchen space. But if you worry that it might be too much, try mustard yellow on base cabinetry only and opt for a neutral color above and on the walls. A coordinating tile backsplash can bring the two colors together, acting as a cheery transition. For even less of an impact, sprinkle the shade of yellow throughout accessories, like bar stools, dishware, or linens.

Courtesy of Farrow & Ball

3. Transform a Piece of Furniture

For those looking for a small dose of yellow, consider using paint to refinish a piece of furniture. Even against historic molding detail, this mustard paint color (India Yellow by Farrow & Ball) on a wood storage unit keeps the space fresh and modern for contemporary living. Who knows—you might end up loving it so much that you paint your walls and trim, too.

Courtesy of Clare Paint

4. Create an Accent Wall

Who needs artwork when you have a creative idea and a can of paint? Painting an accent wall, like this modern arch shared by Clare Paint, can take an interior from basic to brilliant. All you need is an afternoon, some painters tape, and a steady hand.

Laurie Black

5. Make a Statement Outdoors

What a welcome! Refreshing your front door with an ochre paint color will brighten your home's entry. If you have a navy or white exterior, try Yellow Groove by Behr or Valspar’s Sunspark. Both have a grounding touch of brown in the mix. To ensure success, consider your exterior and trim paint colors. Be sure to sample yellow paint colors and observe them at various points in the day.

Our Favorite Mustard Furnishings

If you love the bold look of mustard yellow but shy away from semi-permanent color commitments, tabletop decor and home accessories are a great place to start.

Courtesy of Food52

These contemporary vessels are inspired by Danish still life paintings. Mix and match their varied shapes, sizes, and complementary colors, all of which pair well with warm yellow tones. They look great as individual pieces on a bookshelf, too, if you’d like to use them as decorative accents instead of as tableware.

Buy It: MoMA Danish Modern Vessels, ($68-$155, Food52)

Courtesy of Schoolhouse

Mustard yellow is a perfect accent color for children’s rooms and play spaces. Portland retailer Schoolhouse offers a number of mustard yellow decorative items, including this bold (and reversible!) quilt, which comes in twin, queen, and king sizes. This cheerful and cozy blanket is great for layering with other bedding in neutral or nature-inspired tones. Other mustard-colored Schoolhouse finds include handwoven throw pillows, linen napkins, lighting, clocks, and more.

Buy It: Channeled Cotton Quilt, ($170, Schoolhouse)

Courtesy of jungalow.com

Mustard yellow can be impactful when used sparingly, too. Designer Justina Blakeney’s abstract accent pillow features just a touch of marigold as well as other vibrant tones including fuchsia, coral, pink, red, and teal. The warm, saturated yellow stands out against a navy blue border and complements the additional sunset shades.

Buy It: Teal Face Pillow by Justina Blakeney x Loloi, ($89, Jungalow)

Courtesy of Etsy

Digital printables are a great way to customize your space in a quick, budget-friendly fashion. Plus, you can pick the size and frame style that works best for you. On a white wall, this "good vibes only." print lightens the mood and adds a jolt of energy to a home office or living space.

Buy It: Good Vibes Only Print, ($5.26, Etsy)

Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

A pair of cheery pendant lights over an island (or just a single hanging fixture in a laundry room) can make a big statement. For a modern, industrial look, try Crate & Barrel's farmhouse pendant from their Maddox collection of hanging fixtures. The line includes a range of sizes and finishes to suit your needs. The mustard option features a bright white interior to balance out the exterior's intensity.

Buy It: Maddox Mustard Farmhouse Pendant, ($180, Crate & Barrel)

Dave Greer

Mustard Paint Colors

Feeling inspired to take on a paint project? Test a few of these expert-recommended mustard paint colors first.

When it comes to warm yellows, Xaykao loves the historic classics from Benjamin Moore. “There are beautiful mustard shades in our Williamsburg collection, such as Damask Gold CW-405 and Tavern Ochre CW-375," she says. “The colors in this collection were derived from original Colonial Williamsburg homes, so these date back to the 18th century.”

For a bold jolt of energy, try Sherwin-Williams' Decisive Yellow or Sweet Mustard by Behr. Stuart Gold HC-10 and Marblehead Gold HC-11 are Xaykao's top picks for more subtle mustard options. Gibbons recommends Clare Paint’s Golden Hour for those looking to add mustard yellow to walls, trim, or cabinetry.

David Tsay

What Goes with Mustard Yellow?

Whether you plan to paint or place a furniture order with your favorite retailer, consider which additional colors go with warm yellows. All sunset shades work well together, including soft pinks like Sherwin Williams Faint Coral, deep salmons, red-oranges, and even buttercream yellows.

Mustard also works when contrasted with vibrant, blue-green shades. Gibbons recommends Clare Paint’s ocean-inspired Deep Dive as a complementary color. "If you want to play it safe, try pairing your rich golden shade with a soft, warm neutral, which will help to tone down some of the energy, making the color feel more approachable,” she says.

And you simply can’t go wrong by surrounding yourself with airy neutrals and mustard yellow as an accent. Combining shades of black and white with mustard can give a space an especially modern feel, too. Whichever palette you choose, rich mustard yellow is guaranteed to make your rooms glow.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
July 27, 2020
Yes yes my favorite color in the color spectrum! ❤️