Decorating With Sunny Yellow Paint Colors

Pick the right paint color and yellow can be dramatic, daring and surprisingly debonair. Here are some of the ways color-savvy designers prove that yellow isn't always mellow in their room design.

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There are many ways to make yellow look modern and fresh.

"Yellow is on its way back in," says Catherine B. Stein, president of THE COLOR COUNCIL, with bright, chrome yellow or soft bamboo looking especially fresh. "Blues are a natural partner for yellow, reminiscent of classic country," Stein says. "Green will soothe and give an outdoorsy feel, while purple will offer the highest contrast, yet be the most nostalgic."
Another fan of yellow paired with purple, designer Martha Angus loves egg yolk yellow accented with pale violet. She also adores yellow with what she calls Marie Antoinette-saturated French Blue. "If you go with any powerful yellow," she says, "then the other colors in the room need to be a bit quieter."

On the other hand, a softer yellow lends itself quite nicely to a jazzy new shade. "Mixing yellow with an apple green or aubergine, for instance, can make it lively and new," says designer Sherrill Canet. Designer Steven Miller's green and yellow combo in the living room pictured above is a great example of this refreshing effect.

Whatever color combination you choose, remember to try the paint on the walls to see how it looks at different times of the day. Once you've found a color that appeals to you, go ahead and try it, even if it's bolder or brighter than the shades you normally select. "You need a little luck when you try something unusual," says designer Barclay Fryery, "but the most important ingredient for pulling it together is confidence."

Photograph by Matthew Millman

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