It is interesting that with color in design, as with most things in life, two people can have decidedly different interpretations of and feelings about the color they see. Yellow can be one of these polarizing colors; for many, it’s associated with joy and sunshine, whereas for others it aligns more closely with deceit and cowardice. Regardless, yellow is the brightest and most energizing of the warm colors (e.g., red, orange, and yellow). In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the colors that go with yellow and discuss what makes those combinations effective in design.
Yellow + Black
If the striking color combination of bumblebees is any indication, Mother Nature wants yellow and black to work together sometimes. Like the sunshine that peeks out from behind dark storm clouds, yellow with black in interior design provides an instant focal point that is emphasized not only because of its own color but also because of the blackness of its counterpart. Choose a yellow with grey undertones for a more soothing visual transition.
Yellow + Sage Green
One strategy for pairing colors that designers use is to pair colors of different tonalities for maximum visual effect. For example, pairing warm golden chairs with a cooler sage green chair around a neutral wood grain dining table makes a huge statement when one considers the actual small amount of these colors that actually is visible within a dark-neutral room. The color combination works because it is balanced, and it is effective because it is unique.
Yellow + Gray + Brown
Gray and brown are both neutrals, but even when they match each other in tint and undertone, they still come from two sides of the spectrum. Brown is earthy and malleable, grey is productive and concrete. It is these similarities and differences combined, though, that make them gorgeous colors to pair with yellow. Yellow bridges the visual gap without overshadowing or underemphasizing either palette partner.
Yellow + Gray
Softer yellows are commonly used as a gender-neutral color, both for babies and for people in general. Gray is inherently neutral on all counts, gender and otherwise. This similarity of purpose but difference in aesthetic approach make yellow and grey a delightful color combination, particularly when combined in such a lighthearted, fun way as on this LePointed couch.
Yellow + Blue + Gray
Sometimes, one color is used to keep another color (or color combo) from feeling cliché or predictable. Yellow paired with blue and grey generally accomplishes this aim with finesse. Using it solely as an accent to the classical and/or nautical vibe of blue and grey, yellow is a perfect choice to emphasize a variation in architecture or a diagonal line among other perpendicular lines, among other things.
Yellow + Cream + Orange
Before you write off this color palette that resembles a candy corn, consider this: yellow perfectly bridges the gap between orange and cream, and it not only completes the analogous color scheme but also enhances it. Even though orange is itself a warm color, when you think about what this setting would miss if the yellow was omitted, you would likely find it flat and relatively lifeless. Yellow feeds off these two colors just as they feed off the energy of yellow.
Yellow + Mushroom Gray
As two colors that might feel blah as a knee-jerk response, these two hues work well together to create a friendly and neutral space, as this Iliad sofa shows so well. The sweet and accommodating soft gray-brown that is mushroom grey is a perfect all-encompassing visual foundation. Pairing it with a warm, muted yellow means that it gets a shy nudge toward vibrancy. Colors that go with yellow are often neutral colors whose undertones match the specific yellow, rounding out the entire combination seamlessly.
Yellow + Brown + Blue
We’ve pretty much established by this point that yellow makes a great pairing with neutrals as much as it does with other actual colors. Brown and blue are like the reliable but fairly boring uncles at a family reunion; add yellow into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a tale to sit up and listen to. In other words, yellow benefits from the stability of brown and blue, and vice versa for the other two nature-centered hues.
Yellow + Ballet Pink
Yellow shows itself, sometimes subtly and sometimes obviously, in warmer-toned metallic such as gold and brass. When this sort of luxurious golden yellow is around, it benefits from some equally luxe but softer color pairings, such as ballet pink (found in tints of light copper). The combination strikes a lovely chord of down-to-earth sophistication.
Yellow + Red
Getting back to the basics of color theory and the color wheel, colors that go with yellow must include, and always have included, the other two primary colors. Red and yellow are particularly effective visually because they are the two warm primary colors (blue is cool), so they naturally stick together. Because of their heightened visual impact, however, it’s best to use them with plenty of natural light and/or neutral (we’re talking practically invisible) color.
Yellow + Fuchsia
Feminine and enthusiastic, yellow and fuchsia combine to create a vibrant, funky, unabashed palette. There is a definite visual zing with this bold color scheme, but when it’s used strategically (and with plenty of neutrals, particularly ebony), the energy level is entirely appropriate for the space.