Kate Riley

Color 101: Choosing the Right Yellow Paint

By Kate Riley

So you’re thinking about yellow paint as a color for your room, cabinets, floors or furniture. Bravo! Choosing the right yellow isn’t difficult if you pay attention to hue, intensity and undertones. Yellow is a cheerful color associated with happiness and joy. Bright yellows say “look at me,” while less saturated, mustard yellows are earthier and Old World. Yellow paint adds playfulness and energy to a space. Here are a few tips for choosing the right shade for you.

First determine if you seek a pale light shade or a deeper color. It’s likely you already have an idea from a source of inspiration, whether it’s an image from a home design magazine, a piece of fabric, or a memory of something yellow that has stuck with you. Use your source of inspiration as your jumping off point. Corn Silk is a pure pale yellow, Buttered Sweet Corn is a midtone yellow, and Spicy Banana Pepper is a darker, more intense shade of yellow.

light to dark yellows

Next, you’ll want to consider undertones. Just like when choosing neutrals, examining yellow paint samples in natural light next to each other will reveal the intensity of their hue. Yellow paint colors will get muddier and look less saturated when umber or black are added to them. It’s important to look closely at those undertones against the existing colors in the space, if any. Notice how Dusty Gold, Warm Gold and Buttery Willow all possess umber (or brown) undertones. Less saturated yellows like these are warmer and richer than bright yellows, and they translate as more traditional or as having European influences.

muddy yellows

Yellow sits adjacent to orange and red on the color wheel, but it can also possess green undertones as it approaches a shade closer to lemongrass. Notice the green undertones in Golden Kiwi and how Jonquil Yellow is a yellow that leans closer to orange, both equally wonderful if you seek a shade of yellow that dances closer to other neighboring hues.

green orange

Brighter, more crisp yellows complement interiors from cottage to contemporary. If you’re looking for a clean and crisp yellow to paint a wall or piece of furniture, consider Sunspot or Early Morning Sun as true yellows.

crisp yellows

Grab a few yellow paint swatches and evaluate their intensity and saturation in comparision with each other. When you’ve narrowed down a few potential candidates, grab sample pots and apply them to large pieces of cardstock. Study the larger swatches of yellow paint in both natural and artificial light before making a final decision. Once you do, trust that your new shade of yellow paint will go far to add cheer to the space where it’s applied. Enjoy the process!

Explore more yellow options with the Glidden® paint color palette.

I have been sponsored by the Glidden® brand paint for PPG to write this post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.