There’s no better way to add a fun pop of color to your home design, not to mention brighten your mood, than to let yellow light up your space

I don’t know about you, but the rainy, voggy weather we’ve had lately has got me feeling the blues. So for this column, I want to talk about a color that’s anything but blue. Let’s talk about yellow!

Yellow is the color of happiness. Of course it is — it’s the color of sunshine. It’s a positive, cheerful color that can’t help but brighten any mood.


When it comes to decorating, yellow has always been popular because it not only brightens a space and makes it feel bigger, but also makes it feel cozier and more relaxing. There are hundreds of shades including butter cream, saffron, lemon and neon yellow. Picking the right one can either flood your interiors with brilliant sunshine or add just the right sophisticated glow.

Yellows are said to improve memory and inspire creativity. So why not in a home office? How about the kitchen? And yellow is absolutely perfect for kids’ rooms. Yellows, blues and whites make for awesome nautical or sport themes for boys. Yellows, lavenders and pinks can be either super-feminine or diva-ish when paired with sparkle and shine.

This color can be a little tricky, however. In certain lighting, some shades can take on a greenish tinge. Try out a swatch of paint (or paint a sample on a large board) and put it in the room at different times of day to see how it looks in the light.

As with any color, you have your warmer and cooler shades. For warm combos, think of sunsets: Warm, muted yellows work very well with bronze and brown tones, as well as golds and terra cottas. Cool yellows combine very well with apple greens, sky blues and charcoals and silvers.

Yellow is also very hot in conjunction with its popular partner of the moment, gray. You’ve seen me use this combination in several design projects lately. The yellow and gray pairing definitely adds a modern element, especially when you can tie in reclaimed wood and metal elements.


As you can see in this page’s photos, I wanted to remain neutral when I staged a model apartment unit recently. An ikat fabric combining charcoal, white and yellow presented just the right touch of urban chic that would appeal to a man or a woman.

I threw a bit of that yellow on the opposite wall to reinforce the color, and added a little spark of whimsy — a rotary-dial yellow telephone — to finish it off. Even in my showroom, the color I chose to ground the center stage space was yellow. The yellow pebble wool rug grounds a seating area and gives it a fresh, modern feel.

So if you’re looking for a color to paint on a wall or to just bring in a little accent, take another look at yellow — and let the sunshine in!

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. Go to