We've spotted a crop of cool yellow living room ideas - and it's clear this spectrum of golden shades is having its moment in the sunlight.
With tastemakers and designers from Suzy Hoodless and Lucy Barlow to Tricia Guild and Matthew Williamson stylishly splashing yellow into their living rooms and design schemes, more of us are taking a shine to this joyful hue. The love of these sunny shades had started before the grey days of the pandemic, but with its warm, energetic and optimistic overtones, unsurprisingly, the yearning for yellow has gathered pace.
It also coincides with color authority, Pantone releasing its Colours of the Year 2021, Ultimate Grey and Illuminating Yellow and the slew of stylish furniture and accessories that followed to suit yellow and grey living rooms.
Forget play school primary tones, these yellow modern living room ideas are all about bursts of rich ochre through to zingy citrus and the palest sherbet shades, delivered boldly and beautifully.
1. Opt for earthy tones
'Yellow is the ideal color to use in a living room, because although it can sometimes appear raw in bright light, if the right tone is used in the right space it can feel uplifting during the day and then have a magic glow at night,' says Joa Studholme, Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab), Colour Curator.
In the more contemporary home, earthier yellows used on both walls and woodwork create the ultimate in relaxed warm rooms that contribute to our wellbeing. These deeper, more muted yellows create a more sophisticated, cozy feel than the more vibrant yellow hues so ideal if you want a more subtle, toned-down look that still feels sunny and warm.
2. Balance a yellow living room with neutrals
Grey and yellow living rooms are popular for a reason; yellow warms up the cool tones of grey and grey balances out the vibrant tones of yellow. Pair yellow walls with a grey sofa and layers of neutrals or bring a pop of yellow into an all grey living room for a lift
'Shades of yellow and ochre balanced with neutrals, such as Dulux's Brave Ground, can help create a classic contemporary backdrop that will work with any mix of furniture, and that won’t date,' says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director, Dulux (opens in new tab).
3. Add subtle pops of yellow
Introducing a new color doesn't mean a total overhaul though, a subtle hint can work well too. Here, Lucy Barlow of design studio, Barlow & Barlow (opens in new tab) has enlivened an elegant neutral scheme with splashes of gold, brass, and buttercup yellow cushions.
4. Blend yellow with warm brown tones
For a cool 70s feel, brown and yellow can totally work. Be inspired by this yellow living room idea and back soft ochre tones with Mid-century modern furniture and vintage-inspired prints.
'Delicate, poetic or vibrantly zingy – decorating with yellow can deliver a dash of optimism and joy to your space. These warming hues open the door to a new perspective to our palette, that brings a modern twist to what is typically referred to as a retro mood,' says Tricia Guild, OBE. Founder & Creative Director, Designers Guild (opens in new tab)
'We especially love the golden glow of our 'Shore Lichen ’paint shade from our Earth Tones range - with cool undertones this soft rich ochre looks wonderful with greys and sepia tones for a sophisticated, contemporary look. Inspired by the soothing beauty of the natural world - many are looking to nature, more than ever and are inspired by shades of lichen, smoky mushroom and ochre to offer a natural warmth and richness.'
5. Team rich yellows to black
If yellow seems overpowering, ground it by teaming it with accents of black or chocolate brown for a sophisticated look that will appeal to classicists and mid-century modernists alike. In this yellow living room the bold ochre walls are tempered with dark architraves and skirting boards.
'Ochre can come into its own in darker spaces,' says Lucy St George, co-founder of Rockett St George (opens in new tab). ‘It adds a happy glow to any room and is perfect for north-facing rooms that need to bring their own sunshine’.
6. Layer up yellows
'In terms of sheer joyfulness, no hue can quite rival yellow and it will instantly add life and vitality to a space,' says Claire Hornby, Head of Creative at Barker & Stonehouse (opens in new tab).
'When it comes to creating a living room scheme, I would always recommend picking an array of tonal shades and textures to create variation and tactility, especially if you have a strong block of one color in the form of a sofa or chair. This can be easily achieved using a mix of soft furnishings such as cushions, throws and rugs.'
You'll find plenty of seating options in all shades of upholstery from lemon yellow to mustard ochre in our guide to the best sofas of the year.
7. Go for barely there yellows
If you are after a more subtle living room color scheme, opt for a barely-there pale yellow on the walls and pair it with soft neautrals and pale wood. The overall look is almost neutral, just with a more uplifting feel.
'2021 is a year pinned with hope for lots of us and yellow can help us fill our homes with the kind of optimistic vibe we're after,' says Rob Green Founder, Coat Paints (opens in new tab). 'Fantone 21 channels that. As a muted pastel yellow, it works well as a versatile color in most homes.'
8. Paint the woodwork yellow
A dash of incandescent yellow – Trumpet by Little Greene – delivers a burst of energy and links the front living room to the middle sitting room in the home of interior designer Suzy Hoodless (opens in new tab). It also saves the two spaces from being 'too polite'. 'Color is an easy way to create a dramatic effect.' says Suzy.
9. Add some heat with deep mustard shades
Designer, Matthew Williamson (opens in new tab) has used hot mustard hues on the walls of his living room, at the dining end, which opens onto a beautiful outdoor terrace, so it feels sunny even on the greyest of days.
'Without doubt, color affects your mood,' says Matthew. 'It’s such a powerful tool for both fashion and interiors. To keep things contemporary yet uplifting, I team classic colors with a pop of neon or an unexpected contrasting tone.'
10. Have fun with paint effects
Color blocking has been a strong trend for years now, and the easiest way to get this look is using paint. Painted just a section of the walls yellow and choosing a neutral for the rest of the wall creates a striking effect in this yellow living room.
Paula Taylor, Colour & Trend Specialist at Graham & Brown (opens in new tab), says. 'The juxtaposition of steely monochrome and vibrant yellow strikes a harmonious balance between warm and cool, denoting resilience and hope for the coming year. Grey has long been the go-to for an on trend modern aesthetic, providing a neutral base for statement home accessories to stand out. Yellow, on the other hand, cuts through the cool grey hue adding dimension and a splash of freshness.'
Is yellow a good color for a living room?
Yellow is a perfect color for a living room if you want to create a warm, sunny space that always feels bright and inviting. This lovely versatile color can work with all styles too, from deep ochres for a moody and dramatic dark living room to light and bright primrose shades for more traditional spaces. And it can be paired with so many other colors too so really easy to incorporate into your current color scheme.
What color goes with a yellow living room?
Yellow can be paired with so many different colors depending on the look you are going for. Grey and yellow are a classic combination and a good option if you are a neutrals lover but want you to add just a hint of warmth to a grey living room. Green is also a lovely fresh color to pair with yellow if you want a really nature-inspired color palette, and warm tones like pink and orange look lovely with deep yellow tones.
Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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