Color crush: Add zest to your home with pops of yellow. 'The bolder the better,' one expert says

Color crush: Add zest to your home with pops of yellow. 'The bolder the better,' one expert says
Don't be afraid of yellow. ((Handout))

The pigment of smiley-face emojis, sunshine and citrus, yellow has become the exclamation mark du jour when it comes to accessorizing home decor with the perfect pop of color.

Think: fresh and fun without a big investment.


A new coat of paint on a dresser, a yellow lampshade, area rug or draperies bring the heat. Splashes of yellow on accessories such as throw pillows and blankets, napkins and artwork represent a timely strategy for updating your space and making it shine.

"Yellow always peeks in as a key accent," said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin-Williams. "But I think right now it's a great balance to all the gray … and now blue, it's a great combination color."

In fact, it's a classic power pairing along the lines of Batman and Robin, Dolce & Gabbana, Will & Grace.

"We're doing a living room that's fairly understated and traditional," said Julie Massucco Kleiner, co-founder and principal designer for Massucco Warner Miller, a West Coast-based design firm. "But we're doing the chairs in an almost neon yellow velvet … yellow definitely works, and for me it's the bolder, the better."

Massucco Kleiner said, "If you're going to do yellow [accents], it's kind of go big or go home, I think." The designer advises choosing rich, deep, even acidic yellows with a strong texture or sheen [like lacquer] that pack a strong style punch."

The message, however, is keep it simple. None of the experts we spoke to recommended painting floor-to-ceiling school-bus yellow.

"I would almost say never yellow on the walls," said Massucco Kleiner, "I really don't like it — but again if you had a really daring client or personality, you could lacquer your dining room yellow and that would be great, but it's obviously not for the faint of heart."

Big Chill 30 Retro Stove, $3,295 at
Big Chill 30 Retro Stove, $3,295 at ((Big Chill))

"Yellow on its own is overwhelming," said Wadden, "but as a pop of color it's a perfect complement to gray and I think that's why it's taking off."

Indeed, as industry color forecasters predict a focus on deep blues, teals, greens and grays in the year ahead, contrasts of yellow provide zing.

"I think when used sparingly and in really smart ways, yellow has the power to bring life, warmth and vitality to a room," said Brandon Quattrone, co-founder of Los Angeles-based Consort.

"I think there's positivity, happiness and kind of clarity and energy surrounding that color," said Quattrone, who notes that the Instagram feed he curates and styles with Consort co-founder Mat Sanders is full of yellow accents.

"It definitely shows up over and over again," said Quattrone, who added that sometime getting the look can be as simple as adding flowers or fruit.

"Who doesn't like a bowl of lemons?" he asked.

Bonnie McCarthy contributes to the Los Angeles Times as a home and lifestyle design writer. She enjoys scouting for directional trends and reporting on what's new and next. Follow her on Twitter @ThsAmericanHome