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Press for Maria Killam Colour and Design

Maria Killam on Decorating with Yellow in Alberta Home

By 03/19/2009May 31st, 202112 Comments

This is an article I wrote that was just published in Alberta Home recently. I have re-printed it (with the yellow paint chips so you can see them) here so you can read it!

The Secrets to Decorating with Yellow!

Want to bring some happy optimism into your home this year? The right shade of yellow might be the solution! Here are 5 ways to make it easier and less stressful to choose a yellow for your interior:

1. Most colours get twice as bright on the walls. This is especially true when selecting yellows. In the colour wheel, yellow is the first hue the eye can see; it’s simply the brightest. This is why a bright yellow stripe combined with a black one is used to signify caution on concrete columns in a parkade, for example. If you have already chosen a yellow that is too clean and bright to begin with–like BM 2050-50 Mellow Yellow–going a few shades lighter on the chip will not help.

I had one client say to me “I am ALWAYS surprised when I see the little 2 x 2 chip on the walls, it’s never what I thought it would be”. If you actually want the colour you end up with on your walls to look more like butter, the yellow must be muddied or toned down a few shades to a yellow like 2154-50 Straw, by Benjamin Moore before it will achieve the result you are expecting.

2. Yellows can be used in any room in your house; however, even clients that love yellow have found it to be overwhelming when used as the primary wall colour in a home. Painting your entry, hallways, living room, kitchen, all the same shade of yellow even if it’s a soft shade can be too stimulating.
Anytime I have been called to specify colour in an, all-yellow home, (with a client that loves yellow) they have asked for other colours to break up the existing yellow, still keeping it in some rooms.

3. The reason black and white is usually shown with a yellow as vibrant as this sofa from IKEA is because adding another colour, dictates that the second colour be just as strong and clean which keeps the look too young. The secret to achieving this ‘glam’ look, (without creating a bumblebee effect) is to use black more sparingly than white. Introducing graphic toss cushions from Bo Concept, black framed artwork, a zebra skin, an upholstered white chair inside a black frame, a mirrored or white console table, and bar stools from Kristalia, is the way to pull this look together while keeping it sophisticated.

4. If buying a yellow sofa is too much of a commitment for you, simply buy 3 of the attached vases for impact! Fill them with simple greenery and line them up on your mantle or on a console behind a sofa! Add some toss cushions and a throw in the same tones that will make you feel happy every time you walk into the room!

5. Having trouble deciding where to begin? Any room where you’d like to introduce warmth, energy and sunshine is a good place to start.

Maria Killam is a member of the International Association of Colour Consultants, a partner with Benjamin Moore’s Painting & Decorating Services. In addition to running her own colour and design firm in North Vancouver, she teaches colour theory at Vancouver Community College. For more colour inspiration and advice,

Related Post:
Why is it so hard to choose Yellow?

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  • Awesome Sara says:

    I love this! yellow is my favorite color. oooo, do one with dark colors like black, please.

  • DesignTies says:

    Great article, Maria! I love yellow, too 🙂 We've decided to go with Powell Buff in our kitchen & living room… it's soooo interesting how it reads differently in each of the rooms… it's all about the light!

  • DesignTies says:

    Funny — I was just at HomeSense earlier today (twice, actually!!) and was admiring the new bedding in the vignette by the cashes. The bedding is black & white with circles, and the throw at the foot of the bed and some cushions were solid bright yellow 🙂 I'm not usually a fan of yellow, but that colout combination really appealed to me. Fits right in with what you said in #3 🙂

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  • Things That Inspire says:

    Years ago, I bid on a 2 hour design consultation at a preschool auction. I mainly wanted to freshen up my family room, which had cream walls, sage sofa, yellow accents in the pillows and table skirt. I told the designer that I was thinking about painting the room yellow, and she looked aghast – told me that I would regret it! She suggested Benjamin Moore Harbour Town instead, a lovely green. I adore it, and am so thankful that we didn’t paint yellow – I would have tired of it. I like your suggestion of bringing in yellow through accessories instead. For me, yellow in small doses is much easier to deal with.

    On another note, when we bought our house the nursery was painted yellow. I read that yellow is a really bad color for baby rooms, as it gives one a feeling of energy and awakeness, which is NOT what you want with a baby – you want sleepy and restful! I did end up keeping the yellow because I found it to be so cheerful, but at night my rule was NO light whatsoever!

  • Colour Me Happy says:

    The ‘no yellow in a baby’s room’ is actually an urban legend. It is not true at all, but I think how it came to be was that if you take any version of a primary screaming yellow and paint ANY bedroom in it–trust me–we will ALL cry it will be so awful.

    So there is nothing wrong with a yellow in a baby’s room, there are so many soft, wonderful yellows and it’s a non-gender colour which works great in a babys room.

  • Meade Design Group says:

    I am totally into yellow flowers lately. Don’t ask my why – lol

  • Geopology says:

    I’m not a fan of bright yellow. I do enjoy the buttery yellow or mustard color more.

    Great Blog! My first time visiting and I can’t stop reading!

  • danielle says:

    congrats on the magazine publishing and the news paper! you’re pretty much a celebrity! 🙂
    i love yellow, any yellow… it’s just so perfectly happy!

  • Patricia Gray says:

    Great article Maria. Congratulations!!!

  • Norma says:

    I also love the color yellow too. We built our home 10 years ago, and I wanted a light color yellow in the home,it’s always like a breath of fresh air. I sometimes go into these new show homes, and all the wall colors are so dark looking, the colors are just too dark for me

  • Annie, bossy color says:

    I'm late to the party 🙂 , but this is such a helpful article. If it were up to me, I'd paint the whole world yellow, and these are very helpful pointers. Thanks, Maria!

  • Camilla says:

    It is great fun to read articles about decorating that are a bit older, especially when they still make sense.

    Yellow is my favourite colour, the one I cannot do without in a home. My kitchen walls are painted a strong and vibrant, yet soft and muted, yellow. In the morning it is sunshine in a bucket, towards afternoon almost a golden beige. It is, in other words, an earthy shade of yellow that loves to be paired with other earthy shades for a very warm, inviting, grownup space.

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