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Bring on the Colour: Decorating with Yellow

Yellow isn’t a colour for the timid. Used right, it can liven up a space without being overwhelming. Take a look at these ideas for decorating with yellow.

With the huge variety available, I find that most people are overwhelmed when trying to select the right colour of paint for their walls. For instance, take my latest clients who I’ve known personally for several years. She isn’t afraid of colour (he is a little more) as evident by the lime green and orange kids’ bedrooms, the lavender master bedroom, as well as the rusty orange they have painted in the main living space of their home.

After living with the rusty-orange for several years, they’re ready for a change. The walls are going to be painted over very soon. The big question is WHICH COLOUR?

Decorating with Yellow - Bright Yellow Dresser via East Coast Creative

Bright Yellow Dresser by East Coast Creative

Selecting a New Paint Colour

When I first met with my clients, they had a variety of paint chips up on the wall (as so many people do) ranging anywhere from bright blue, to sea green to raincoat yellow. There were a few grays thrown in the mix, but I could tell these weren’t front runners.

They had just installed granite countertops and were planning on replacing the linoleum flooring with imperial black slate tile, as well as the living room carpet with a medium toned shag. Everything was sounding a bit heavy, so a bit of colour on the walls could balance it out.

The jumping off point for the colour selection was a piece of art hanging in the living room that was filled with various shades of yellow, blue, green and red. I immediately ruled out the blue because the cabinets in the kitchen had a bit of an orange undertone and I didn’t want to bring it out more.

Red was the next colour to eliminate because we wanted to keep the colour unified in the living room and kitchen, and it would just be too strong. In addition, red was the colour my clients thought of painting the powder room, and I couldn’t agree more.

Yellow was looking fantastic with their caramel sofa and seemed to be the front runner. After speaking with them, yellow was the colour they were leaning towards before I got there, but didn’t want to say anything to sway my suggestion.

Although I love yellow, it can be a tricky colour to decorate with. In our last house, the living room was painted Benjamin Moore’s Velum (CC-200), a muddied down, soft yellow. It gave the room a touch of warmth and liveliness without saying GOOD MORNING at all times of the day. Most of the other items in the room were neutral with a few pops of raspberry to keep it fresh.

I wanted to pull together a few pictures of rooms decorated with yellow to show my clients before any final decisions were made. Although they are used to living with colour, I wanted to make sure they realized how strong yellow can actually be. It definitely isn’t a colour for the timid! Also, I wanted to show that colour doesn’t always have to come in the way of paint. Neutral walls with stronger colours in fabrics, furniture and accessories can be stunning as well.

Ideas for Using Yellow in Your Home

I happen to love this warm yellow living room spotted on Better Homes & Gardens. The addition of green and turquoise keeps it looking fresh.

This cheery yellow living room found on Southern Living is a good example of how well it pairs with gold.

I adore this laundry room with its yellow floral wallpaper.

This yellow farmhouse style kitchen spotted on Canadian House & Home is gorgeous!

These beautiful floor to ceiling yellow drapes add a pop of colour to this otherwise neutral living room.

And, finally, the yellow bench on our front porch is just what it needed to waken up the space.

Cottage Charm Spring Front Porch with Bright Yellow Painted Bench - Satori Design for Living

We’re waiting for the flooring to be installed before we decide on the final wall colour. After seeing these photos, my clients love the yellow, but they’re still up in the air about putting the colour on the walls or using it for decor instead.

For more colour inspiration, check out some of my favourite front door colours.

Tried and True Front Door Paint Colors

What do you think? Could you live with yellow on your walls or do you prefer a few pops here and there? Do you have any favourite yellow paint colours? I’d love to know!

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Have a fantastic weekend!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. I love the way the yellow looks in all of the pictures – each of the rooms looks really inviting. However, I don’t think yellow is a wall color I could live with on a daily basis, I am a huge fan of darker, maybe dustier looking paint colors. I have BM Stampede on my walls in our main room and would love to incorporate the color into more rooms.

  2. I love yellow, especially if balanced with red, and if there is a lot of natural light.  I tried to use yellow once to cheer up a  dark, drab basement…bad idea!  I determined it must need natural light to not be so overwhelming! 

  3. I have to admit, I’ve always admired yellow in other people’s homes, but have never been a big fan of it in my house until just a few weeks ago. I made a few pillows for our bed that have yellow in them and while I love them, it’s probably enough yellow for me.
    I really love the photos above with the yellow curtains and kitchen cabinets though.
    So I guess I’m a “pops of yellow” kind of girl, rather than a yellow walls girl :)

    1. We definitely all have a threshold for color. I would say I’m a “pops of yellow” kind of girl too, but I’m excited to see how my client’s space turns out!

  4. I’m so excited to have you visit this weekend Shauna.  I need some help with incorporating colour into my home.  I love seeing pictures of rooms with colour but I don’t know how to add it to my own space.

  5. I love the color timidity. Can I put anything with that. I love yellow navy and persimmon pillow pottery barn puts together. I have an open floor plan and I am stuck.

  6. We currently have a yellow wall in our living room and just bought a dark grey couch. Our floor is cherry oak. I’m having trouble with decorations (carpets, table, etc) and what color to use to balance out the yellow wall with grey couch in the room. Any ideas?

    1. Repetition of the yellow on the opposite side of the room will help to balance it out (or a color that has the same visual weight). Perhaps you can find artwork, a rug or a pillow that has the colors of the room in it. That often helps to pull a room together. Send me a picture if you’d like so I can offer a few suggestions.

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