Hello, Yellow: 5 ideas to brighten a room

Updated December 21, 2017

Nothing lights up a room like yellow. One of the three primary colours, it can work with nearly any other colour in the rainbow. Yellow definitely demands attention. But that’s no problem as long as you balance the intensity of the shade you choose with the amount you use. Sprinkle in a dash of bright yellow to create sparks or spread on a coat of buttery yellow to warm up a dark room.

Go all the way

Painting the walls and ceiling yellow is like pouring sunshine into a room. But be careful: like the sun, yellow can get too bright. It intensifies on walls and changes throughout the day more than most other colours. Find a tone you like, then go a few shades lighter. Paint a large sample on one or two walls and evaluate it at several different times of day before committing.

Count on contrast

Yellow and white blend into one another and can look bland without some contrast. Wood in rich dark shades of chestnut or maroon -- think mahogany and antique cherry — punctuate two-tone colour schemes and keep them from becoming monotonous.

Mix it up

Despite its energy, yellow can work in bedrooms. Muted shades have a calming effect, especially when combined with ivory and beige. When mixing shades of yellow, aim for least four or five. Using only two or three shades can look mismatched instead of eclectic.

Hang some sunshine

Yellow window treatments fill a room with warmth, even on dreary days. Yellow is especially effective in north-facing rooms and other rooms that don’t receive a lot of direct sunlight.

Use the energy wisely

High-voltage yellow stimulates the senses, so it may be best in small doses. A small chair here, a pillow there: the brighter the shade, the more spare you can go. And choose warm, yellow-based whites as companions. Brilliant white tends to read gray when combined with yellow.

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About the Author

Jerri Farris is editor-in-chief of Before joining Demand Media, she authored 24 books and wrote for print magazines, video and online publications. Her specialties include lifestyles topics, home improvement and crafts. Farris lives and works in Santa Monica, Ca.