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Bright yellow background with water drops on it with text on top that says Yellow.|Design Pool pattern with sunflowers against a textured background.|

A Pop of Yellow

Yellow: the universal color of happiness and warmth. It surrounds us every day. Think, the warm rays from the golden sun beaming down onto sunflowers surrounded by the buzzing of bees hard at work. Designers use this cheerful color to get our attention due to its high visibility. It makes an appearance on our street signs, taxis, school buses, and even on caution tape. Yellow has roots in spirituality as well. It is connected closely with depictions of sun gods throughout history and to the third chakra, the Manipura Chakra, which is said to connect us with knowledge and intellect. The energy and happiness of the third color in the spectrum have a storied history. Interior designers can use it in a variety of ways to bring upbeat energy into a variety of spaces. 

Design Pool pattern with sunflowers against a textured background.
Sunflower Field Sky, Pattern P1474c

Yellow’s Influence Throughout History 

Of all the colors known to us today, yellow has some of the oldest histories as a pigment. As a pigment, it was used as early as 45,000 BCE in cave paintings and was made from clay soil containing the mineral ochre. Yellow has continued to make an appearance in art, often used by painters including Picasso, Renoir, and perhaps most famously by Van Gough in works such as his series of paintings Sunflowers (1888). It makes an appearance in other art forms as well, including songs by artists such as The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and Coldplay.

Introducing Yellow into Commercial and Home Interiors

As a color of happiness, yellow adds a pop of freshness to any home interior. It pairs well with its complement purple for a bold statement or with green for a more earthy feel. Yellow can provide a welcoming presence to any home in hallways, breakfast nooks, dining rooms, and kitchens. Lighter yellows bring happiness and cheerfulness to spaces. They are often used as a gender-neutral color choice for decor in nurseries and children’s rooms. 

Photo credit: Jenn Bakos Photography

Yellow is used in a variety of commercial settings, including healthcare, education, and other interiors for children. In 2023, color trends are focused on bold choices and pairings. When it comes to yellow, darker “vintage yellows” are a popular choice in both home and commercial interiors. This blending of the old and the new adds richness to a space while also breathing in new life. However, particularly in commercial interiors, the shade of yellow you choose matters. Designers often use brighter shades in connection with children’s brands or educational spaces. Likewise, they will use softer yellows in healthcare and corporate spaces. 

In both commercial and home interiors, it’s best to think of yellow as an accent color rather than the main attraction. Using too much yellow can be overpowering. However, selecting a great yellow shade for an accent wall, furniture piece, or accessory brings in its positive attributes without being harsh on the eyes. 

Have you used yellow in any of your commercial projects? We love working with color and seeing how you use it. Tag us on Instagram with your favorite projects!

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Emma Becker

Emma Becker is a teaching artist and arts administrator working in the state of Rhode Island. She believes art, creativity, and self-expression are essential parts of education. The daughter of a weaver, she grew up surrounded by textiles and developed a deep respect for textiles and their makers.


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