Continuing the series on color, today’s subject is the last, but not least, primary color. Yellow. I’ll be exploring the use of yellow, what colors work with it, how it might affect you emotionally and more. If you’ve considered trying yellow in your home, this might get you moving…. (the series will continue through February so if you subscribe today you won’t miss a word!)
Characteristics of Yellow
I always think of yellow as a happy color, energizing and fun loving. In it’s purest form it is a cheery, strong, ‘sunny’ color that can put us in mind of a sunny day at the beach. Yellow is frequently used as a gender-neutral color in nurseries and as a happy color for kids in preschools and day care centers. You’ll find it on school buses and taxis for its visibility. It can convey warmth and comfort as the other stronger warm colors of red and orange can’t. More popular and easier to live with, shades of rich, warm gold are perhaps the best manifestation of yellow.
You might want to soften a nursery with a buttery pastel yellow, energize a sunroom with a vibrant radiant yellow or give your living space a golden glow with a warm Tuscan gold. Daffodils, tulips, sunflowers, lemons, butter, saffron, mustard - all conjure gorgeous shades of yellow and doesn’t it make you smile?
Although yellow has a lot going for it, it can be a difficult color to design with. It’s perhaps the most changeable color as light hits it – the color will intensify dramatically (get out your sunglasses) or turn slightly greenish. As a designer I’ve learned that whenever I work with yellow, I always choose 2 shades lighter or ‘grayer’ than my first inclination. As paint it goes on much brighter than you’d imagine.
(photo sources clockwise from top left: Hourglass table, ModernDose.com; yellow orchids, JaysonHomeAndGarden.com $80; gold leather sofa, FurnitureAndDesignIdeas.com; pillow EnFrancais, Ankasa; bedding, Painterly Paisley, Pottery Barn (on sale); damask wallpaper #GK80807, Fairwinds Studio; Scoop Back chair, West Elm $65; Remy chair, Anthropologie $750; Haller storage unit, The Conran Shop $3300; Monica vanity stool, Frontgate $600)
Moods of Yellow
Uplifting and joyous, yellow is a color for pleasure …. for smiles. In it’s strongest shades it represents happiness and good will. Softened to a buttery richness, it can be calming and relaxing (perfect for a bedroom).
The Best Place for Yellow
Due to it’s reflective quality as well as it’s connection to ‘sunny’, yellow will brighten dim spaces like hallways, laundry rooms, basement rooms and can be used to great effect in a small powder room. Warm and bright, yellow can be a good choice in a kitchen and make it fun to entertain there. Usually considered a ‘traditional’ color and used frequently in English garden rooms or period spaces, it’s making the transition to contemporary rooms with it’s dramatic pairings with black and/or gray.
Colors to Use With Yellow
A current “hot” color combo is gray and yellow. As I mentioned in an earlier post, gray is THE new neutral for 2010 and pairing it with yellow is fresh and exciting. (See tomorrow’s post for a dramatic DIY gray/yellow wall.) Pair it with crisp white for a clean, bright look – or try it with blue (a classic combo-like my sunflower photo at the top), greens, browns, purple or even red. If you want drama when working with yellow, use black accents for high contrast. A citrus color palette could combine lemony yellow with orange and lime green for a lively room. Thinking outside the box, have you considered egg yolk yellow with hot pink? Not a look for the timid.
Because pure yellow can be quite intense, calming it with a little of its complementary color of purple (opposites on the color wheel) will make it easier to live with. It can also be made more creamy with the addition of brown. The vast range of off whites, antiques and cream colors created with a bit of a yellow undertone are popular because the colors are so pleasing to be surrounded with, go with almost any color of decor and are complementary to most skin tones.
You may remember I’m not particularly a fan of painted cabinets, but this is an example of a way to have a colorful kitchen. The blue and yellow backsplash tiles pull the look together and continue the checkerboard idea.
Feng Shui – Earth Element
As I mentioned above, yellow is the most intense, vibrant color and it’s positive energy is embraced in Feng Shui as well. A yellow room will be full of freshness and is supportive of good health and mental stability. Yellow can alleviate depression, fatigue and digestive problems but might compound fear, insomnia or aggression. Items made from natural materials (the earth element influence) – like a pottery vase – filled with sunflowers maximizes the benefits. Yellow promotes harmony so would be a good choice in rooms where people gather like a family room or kitchen.
“The nature of the element of Earth is one of openness and invitation. It is strengthened by flowing lines and soft items. Bring nature into your environment with flowers, candles and water. Cushions and pillows on the bed are ideal reinforcements. The color yellow holds the gathering nature of earth and can be used in the decor.” (The Feng Shui House Book by Gina Lazenby)
Follow the Series
If you’ve missed any of the earlier articles, you can read them here: Color For Home Decor Explained; Explore RED; Explore BLUE. Next week I’ll be all about green. What do you want to know about color? What gives you the most headaches or the most satisfaction? Share your experiences so we can help or rejoice with you.