One of the hardest colours to paint with, but with these yellow living room ideas, you’ll feel confident decorating sunny side up.
Bright and cheery as it often is, yellow’s collection of tones don’t all effuse vibrancy. Some are muted, some are earthy and nourishing (see Dulux’s Colour of the Year to understand yellow’s influence in its Spiced Honey tones), some are borderline metallic and glamorous. Some carry a decidedly retro personality to them, some are achingly contemporary, some are totally traditional.
Like with any lounge colour scheme, it’s a case of deciding which suits the character of your property. Get inspired with these yellow living room schemes that take you from dandelion accents to all-over ochre decor.
Image Credit: Greg Natale
Out of the many techniques for referencing yellow in your lounge, statement-worthy yellow seating is one of the most popular. Why? Because it’s all about serving that pop of colour which people associate with feistier hues.
Applying yellow to a chair, sofa or footstool shows more confidence than accessories. Home accessories are easier to change and are more transient, whereas furniture is an investment, a commitment. And a yellow chair works in every style of scheme.
A primrose yellow fabric coupled with a walnut framed chair is a period favourite (as seen in the image below close to the partition doors) and they look smart in pairs. A mustard yellow living room armchair or pouf in velvet is rich and glamorous, but depending on the silhouette, it can look chic and Mid-Century. Or opt for a sofa or chaise longue draped head to toe in a yellow textile so that you and your scheme can bask in yellow’s golden glow.
Image Credit: Niche PR
Yellow living room walls can pack a real punch. Shades like buttermilk and lemon, which are far softer, will offer yellow’s innate warmth and serenity.
These variations though are very safe and classic. They’ll still raise eyebrows because yellow in all of its guises is not a standard wall colour choice, but not in the same way that canary, saffron, mustard and acid yellow will. Use any of these confident cases of yellow and your scheme will be nothing short of bright and brave.
Eastern and northern facing rooms benefit from yellow walls as they’ll help to warm it up but if you like the crispness of your room’s temperature, pick a cooler-toned yellow instead. These generally are the more contemporary bright yellows, seen in the Eichholtz scheme pictured.
There’s also warm colour theory that if you put tones like yellow on a feature wall, the wall appears drawn forward towards the eye, making the living room feel smaller. So it’s advised to use yellow across more than one wall. In other words, just go for it.
On the whole, if you want to bring colour into your home in a way that’s not going to dominate your decor, then accessories provide the perfect solution. But with yellow living room accessories, you enter a different domain.
Colour theorists will tell you that yellow is the first colour that your eye reads, which means that any yellow styling touches will take prime position in your palette.
Whether it’s a yellow rug for your living room, yellow ornaments and sculptures, yellow cushions on a sofa or yellow splashes in any artwork, expect its presence to be picked up in a big way. Because of that, it’s a good idea to run with yellow and commit to it fully so that it’s a meaningful part of your decor.
Image Credit: Studio Ashby
Sunshine floods in from your window, so why not take yellow in that direction and frame your sunniest spot with that same hue either side. Curtains don’t always get a mention in yellow living room decor, but find the right fabric, let them be the sole yellow reference and they’ll immediately alter the dynamic.
Even though this is only referencing yellow in one part of your room, it does have a huge impact, so don’t go for drapes if you want yellow as a mere accent. If you repeat the same shade of yellow in other pops throughout the scheme, it will actually stand out less.
Repeated, scattered use spreads the attention whereas one big burst creates much more of a noticeable splash.
Image Credit: Selman Marrakech
When people refer to lemon yellow, they generally aren’t talking about the zingy lemon zest colour you see in the fruit bowl, but a milkier, mellower interpretation of lemon. More lemon curd than lemon rind.
If you’re considering this for a sitting room scheme, give this softly-softly shade more of an edge by putting it alongside a bold bright like red or blue – primary colours that it has a natural affinity with and that liven it up. Or apply it to walls in an unrestrained way, carrying it from skirting to coving, doors and door frames to show that lemon can do the unexpected.
Yellow is a colour that works well in layers. Avoid mixing too many tones or you’ll feel a lack of direction, and instead concentrate on establishing harmony between two or three yellow hues.
Ochre and mustard combine nicely as both have a warm base with an earthy quality. Mustard is more playful while ochre is steady, elegant and grounded, so they bounce off each other.
Whether you’re taking your palette inspiration from Dijon or English, mustard also suits white, but will create a decidedly retro, Mid-Century personality in your room. But mustard’s equally a good bedfellow for grey – pale grey is another 1950s match, mid-grey brings out its sophisticated side while charcoal grey and mustard will leave your living room feeling very alluring indeed.
Architectural colour consultant, Jean Molesworth Kee describes yellow as being one of the trickiest colours to get right. “After white, it’s the colour that most strongly reflects light. Pick the wrong shade and it will scream on the walls,” she said. Her advice is to consider two key things: the size of the room and the amount of natural and incandescent light it gets.
Kee believes that smaller rooms with little natural light can take on brighter, sunnier yellows, unlike spacious living rooms flooded with light where the yellow takes on too much reflection and glare. This is where gold can be a helpful type of yellow to decorate with. It’s deeper and less about upbeat brightness than daffodil or banana yellow.
So bring gold into furniture and living room accessories such as in the Selman Marrakech sitting room where you see it everywhere from mirrors to occasional tables, lamp bases, vases and even studding on the border of the central coffee table.
Ochre, a yellow with a huge span that covers brown-hued yellows and orange-tinted yellows because of the natural clay from which this colour’s derived. Whether you choose the wet sand side or golden side of ochre, your living room will feel impeccably grown-up and understatedly chic.
The Drake Anderson living room pictured shows how to do an ochre wall treatment to great effect, pairing it with off-white, rich browns, golden accents and mustard yellow motifs on the upholstery.
Header Image: Eichholtz