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  • Writer's pictureEvie Polkadot

Yellow: The Sunshine Colour

When I hear 'yellow' I think of Daffodils in spring, Buttercups under the chin, Sunflowers standing tall and proud; fluffy chics at Easter-time and the lovely yellow gingham dresses I wished I could wear to school in the summertime when I was little. They were always much prettier than the boring blue ones my school had!

Yellow brings so many nice thoughts to mind; it reminds us of sunshine; warm days, banana milkshakes, vanilla ice-cream... the sandy beaches we used to draw as children. Yellow is a happy colour. It makes us smile, feel warm and brings us positivity.

But did you know that yellow also has its dark side?

In interior design, too much yellow in a room can cause anxiety, irritability and overstimulation; it can make overheated rooms feel even warmer and can cause agitation if used in a bedroom. At its most extreme, it can cause depression and suicidal thoughts!*

In America, it is advised to repaint your yellow front door before trying to sell your house, because houses with yellow front doors take longer to sell than any other colour. A study between January 2010 and May 2018 found that houses with yellow doors sell for $3,000 less than expected, with all other factors taken into consideration.**

While in history, yellow has various negative connotations, including being the colour of a natural arsenic sulphide mineral, present in the 'gold' bust of Nefertiti , said to have caused the many deaths of the slaves who were mining it: and the saffron-mustard pigment produced from the sap of Gamboge - used to dye the robes of Buddhist monks in the 17th century and later, as a Vegetable Medicine pill which killed around eleven people who took too hefty a dose, leading to the arrest of its creator for manslaughter.**

In the 1800s, yellow was the colour of dandyism and scandal; used on books which contained salacious material - often French - and 'The Yellow Book', a periodical journal made notorious by Aubrey Beardsley's provocative illustrations.**

'The Yellow Book' - Pinterest

In China, blue movies are referred to as 'yellow videos', prison uniforms are yellow and, in 2006 a long line of prostitutes were paraded in front of awaiting crowds as a form of humiliation and punishment.

Yellow is the colour of jaundice; and in the Middle Ages, was said to correspond with five vices - deceit, envy, hypocrisy, jealousy and treachery - and only with three virtues - strength, honour and nobility. And of course, it also has its connection to cowardice.**

In 18th century Russia, yellow was used to paint asylums - and sex workers were obliged to carry 'yellow passports'. Yellow was also the colour of sex workers in various other countries, where they were ordered to wear yellow scarves, headbands or cloaks in the bold hue.**

Werner's Nomenclature of Colours describes the different shades of yellow under such names as 'Gamboge', 'Sulphur' and 'Gallstone Yellow' - adding to these less than happy connections to the colour, in the past.

These are just a few of yellow's connections throughout the history of the world. If you want to learn more about colours and their vibrant histories, I highly recommend you read the following two books, from which I got this information:

*The Little Book of Colour - Karen Haller

**The Colour Code - Paul Simpson

Now, enough of that! Let's return to yellow being sunshine and frilly flowers!

At its best, yellow is warm and inviting; it gives us energy, helps with memory and encourages communication. It's bold and enthusiastic - a great colour to use if you want to catch attention. It brings us happy thoughts and makes us feel energised and determined to reach our goals. It makes us think of spring and new beginnings - and boosts us to work harder in order to achieve greatness.

What else do we need from a colour?!

Yellow in 2022 Interiors

Of course, this blog has to come back to interior design and yellow is set to be a very popular colour for interiors this year. I've been finding myself drawn to yellow for a few months now and I knew that meant it was going to become big. There has been an ongoing pattern with me ever since I can remember and that is, if I become interested in one particular thing, it then goes on to become hugely popular with everyone else. It happens every single time and has often been so frustrating for me, as somebody who doesn't like to follow trends. This is the first time I've figured it out in advance and the first time I've been able to embrace it as a skill, rather than spurn it as a bother! (yay!).

So, let's talk yellow in interiors!


If you're like me, you'll have traumatic memories of 90s decor where yellow is concerned. Those awful electric blue and sunflower yellow bedrooms, AA-yellow kitchen accessories and sponge-effect yellow and terracotta lounges. Yuck! It really was enough to put you off yellow decor for life... and it has done that for me up to now!

I'm determined not to allow the past to put me off forever, though; we are all so much better at decorating than we were back then and we have so much more knowledge now that interiors are such a popular subject to have a hobby in. Even Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen couldn't deny that some of his past decorating jobs were a lot more gaudy than glam!

(It's ok, I can say that... he's my best friend now!)!

Using this "yolky" yellow as an accent colour in this lounge mood board

These days, yellow can be much easier on the eye - and on our mental health! It can look pleasant and even, dare I say it, sophisticated! And that's simply because we have learned the meaning of accent colours; "less is more" and that a room doesn't need to be saturated in one bold colour to show the world how much we love it.

We're much more inclined to accessorise, create a colour block, or paint a ceiling with that colour, than we are to smother the room in it entirely - and that's GROWTH!

But what are the best rooms to use yellow in? Well, simply - whichever room you want to use it in. So long as it feels right to you, it isn't wrong. There are however, places in the home where yellow is advised 'for and against' - and they are as follows:

Against - Guest Bedrooms - You read above that using yellow in a bedroom can evoke feelings of irritation and depression, so, whilst you may love your bedroom in this sunny colour, it might be best to keep your guest bedrooms clear of it. You don't want your guests leaving you in a slump... or do you?!

For - Hallways - In England at least, hallways tend to be tight, dark spaces; so using yellow to brighten them up is a good choice. Yellow is also a welcoming colour and helps to make people smile, so using it in the first room your guests walk into is a lovely thing.

For - Breakfast Rooms / Kitchens - I'm not keen on yellow in kitchens unless it's in really small doses; a bright yellow fridge and a few accessories works well for me, but walls, every small appliance and all the pans is overkill in my opinion. A hint of yellow in these areas of the home is a great way to start the day with a bit of positivity. I think a general rule for yellow anywhere in the home is "keep it simple".

For - Bathrooms - I quite like yellow for a bathroom. Making our way into the bathroom on a dark morning is a chore and a half! So, why not make it a sunny place to wake up in?

Mustard yellow for a bathroom can give you that sunny feeling without being too harsh on tired eyes
A bold yellow wallpaper on a dining wall, with a yellow fridge/cooker a great balance for this accent shade

For - Office Space - I have mustard yellow in my home studio and it's great for keeping me motivated and inspired, so I'd definitely have a touch of yellow in the office - even if it's just a hint, like in this mood board I created:

This yellow cabinet adds a little extra pop of colour alongside the greens and oranges

Let's not forget that gold is the metallic version of yellow, so if you want to introduce a bit of glamour to your space, gold is the way to go. Try not to overdo it, otherwise it could end up tacky!

Using a golden yellow, such as Farrow & Ball, India Yellow, or Dutch orange (which is yellow in my eyes!) teamed with gold accents would be a great way to create a feeling of elegance and luxury.

Against - Nurseries - it is said that babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms. This is because yellow activates the anxiety centre in the brain, causing feelings of unease. Using a much paler shade, in combination with greens and blues could be a better option if yellow is important to you.

For - Children's Play Rooms - Too much yellow may be bad for our psychological wellbeing, but using it in moderation can still be good for giving us energy and happy feelings; so using yellow in spaces where children need to be motivated and inspired is a great option.

This golden yellow would certainly make me enjoy dinner!

For - Dining Rooms - Yellow is a stimulating colour; the reason many food chains use yellow in their branding is because it makes us feel good, which then encourages us to eat in their establishments. They're not silly!

So, using yellow in your dining room would be a great way to help your dinner guests to enjoy themselves in your home. I love this golden yellow for a dining space. The chinoiserie print on the mural, teamed with bamboo greens give it a really classy feel.

A much calmer yellow for a bedroom could be this darker tone

For/Against - Master Bedroom - The same rule goes here (in my opinion); using a deeper tone of yellow - for me - would create a more restful, cocooning atmosphere to fall asleep in and I'd be confident that my mood wouldn't be affected by this gorgeous Dutch Orange from Farrow & Ball. It's the perfect match for House of Hackney's Artemis wallpaper and the mustard accessories.

Teamed with the greens, blues and reds in the wallpaper, this is definitely my idea of the perfect yellow.

And that's it! My guide to yellow decor!

I hope you've enjoyed reading and thank you so much for taking the time to do so.

Let's bring yellow back with a classy pop!

Lots of love

Evelyn M

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