Yellow is an undeniably sunny, warm color that needs to be paired with others carefully. There are some classic colors that go with yellow, including blue and green, but there are more unusual pairings, too.
Decorating with yellow will be limited by the tone that you pick; deep ochres, for instance, require stronger color partners than pastel yellows do. Yellow room ideas of all tones, however, give you plenty of color combinations to experiment with, whether you're using yellow as the principal shade or as an accent color.
Below, we've talked to color experts for their take on which colors to match with yellow.
Colors that work with yellow
Using the color wheel is the easiest way to define the best colors that go with yellow, but our experts can help you find ideal matches, too.
1. Yellow and naturals
Deeper, earthier tones are perfect for bringing warmth when you're decorating with neutrals. This can range from natural materials, such as wood or stone, straight through to brown room ideas. In all cases, the key is the deep tone of the yellow.
‘There is a richness, a warmth and an earthy quality to this color, creating a distinct mood in the room,' says Rose Uniacke, interior designer. 'The shade captures light beautifully, with an immediately energizing effect.'
2. Yellow and metallics
Warm metalics work really well with deep ochre yellows, and you can introduce other strong, warm tertiary shades, such as brown or red to balance out the yellow.
‘There are no hard and fast rules to color. Sometimes it's wonderful to take several tones of one color to fill a room and sometimes it's fabulous to clash colors throughout,' says Samantha Todhunter, creative director, Samantha Todhunter Design.
'What works is usually dictated by the room and the light. We are big proponents of color and playing with clash so we are probably rather maximal in that respect. In this case, warm, sophisticated and relaxed, buttery yellow works so well with the rich tones of brass and dark oak.
The palette feels rich and earthy. We wanted to create a functional yet fabulous living space for our clients with a young family and this ochre yellow adds color and depth to the space, bringing a relaxed sophistication without feeling forced or impractical. The space is banked by wall to wall glass and has great light which really sets off the welcoming warmth of the scheme.'
3. Yellow and blue
‘In this powder room the India Yellow by Farrow & Ball is in high gloss and creates a jewel box effect by picking up the antique brass in the mirror, hardware and ironmongery,' says Katie Glaister, founder, K&H Design.
'In a south-facing room, it looks more like a sunshine yellow, but in a room with very little daylight it will be much richer and moodier, here you could combine it with darker earthy colors like Tanners Brown. Use India Yellow in a nook or snug for a cozy cocooning feel. For a pop of color, use it on kitchen cabinetry and combine it with more neural walls to balance the strong yellow.'
4. Yellow and green
What colors go with green? Yellow is a wonderful match. As with all color pairings, always match the tone. For example, a pastel yellow works best with a pastel green; a stronger yellow, as above, goes best with a mid-green, while colors that go with sage green would include dirtier, earthier yellows. So if you are considering decorating with green or looking at green room ideas, consider yellow.
5. Yellow and white
For a simple, pared back scheme, however detailed in its patterns and layering, yellow can be perfectly paired with white.
‘A rich mustard shade works particularly well in a bedroom as it brings warmth and helps to create a cozy and enveloping feeling, the essential ingredients for a good night's sleep,' says Bryan O'Sullivan, founder, Bryan O'Sullivan Studio.
'By incorporating several soft caramel tones it helps to create a space that feels calm, elegant and welcoming.’
6. Yellow and pink-red
'Decorating with pink is tricky in any space, but especially a kitchen. However, pick a reddish tint and it's one of those clashing colors that can work brilliantly with yellow,' says Jen Ebert, Digital Editor, Homes & Gardens.
'Yellow kitchen ideas are incredibly brave, but this is a color that works brilliantly in pantries, so why not create a focal space with a hint of pink-red on some of the millwork?'
Jen is the Deputy Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens online. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.
7. Yellow and black
'Many colors that go with black tend to be quite restrained, but yellow is quite the opposite, and I think it works particularly well when there is plenty of white in the scheme, too.'
Lucy Searle has written about interiors, property and gardens for over 30 years, starting within the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-1990s. In 2018, Lucy took on the role of Global Editor in Chief for Realhomes.com, taking the site from a small magazine add-on to a global success. She was asked to repeat that success at Homes & Gardens, where she has also taken on the editorship of the magazine, which is the UK's oldest interiors magazine at 103 years old. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties in the UK and Europe, so brings first-hand knowledge to the subjects she oversees.
What colors go well with lemon yellow?
Lemon yellow is best matched with brilliant white, though it's also the perfect partner for blue, green and red. Grays are often matched with yellow but you have to be extremely careful with tone matching as it as a combination can look dated quickly.
What color doesn't go with yellow
Purple is a poor match for yellow in interiors. Although they are both complementary colors, they also sit opposite each other on the color wheel and simply don't work as a combination.
If you're looking for happy room ideas, yellow should be your go-to. Whatever you match it with, your room will always feel cheerful; it's a sunny, positive color that makes a room feel welcoming, in whatever proportions it's used.
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Jo Bailey has been Editor of Homes & Gardens (the print edition) since September 2023; overseeing all features for the print edition. Previously, she worked as the News & Shopping Editor across H&G and Livingetc where it was her role to discover the best news stories, latest trends and honed her understanding of Homes and Gardens' over 100-year-old brand.
Before joining Future Plc, she worked as an interior stylist for over ten years, specialising in commercial photo shoots for luxury clients such as; Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, The Romo Group, Christopher Farr Cloth and Heal's. She has worked closely with Homes & Gardens and Livingetc for over a decade, having styled and produced editorial shoots and events for both titles over the years.
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