Coloring Your World: Make Yellow Your Friend

Welcome back to Coloring Your World, where we look at fun bits of info,  Yellow front door in Hastings on Hudsonand the psychology of the colors that surround and influence us.  Rounding out the primary colors, this installment focuses on big, bright, beautiful YELLOW.

A primary color, it’s one of 3 building blocks (with red and blue) that form other colors. It’s also one of a trio of colors (with ceylon blue and magenta) used with black to create any color in print.

Yellow is unstoppable and contagious! Fresh and vibrant, it represents youth and hope, change, and cheerful optimism.

Pansies for The Refreshed Home's staging, from Carlson's Nuesery

Regular readers know I urge Realtors and sellers to make yellow their friend. Touches of this color creates more striking listing photos and boosts curb appeal.

At left, one of the orders Carlson’s put aside for me. How can these not make you happy?? Yellow does that!  It brings all the good things you want buyers to see and feel from your listing photos, and in your properties.


Fun Facts! 

  • We use “bright” and “brilliant” to describe this color AND intelligence.  Professors of natural and physical sciences in many European universities often wear yellow caps and gowns, representing research and reason.
  • Highly esteemed in many Asian cultures, Yellow represents courage in Japan and wisdom in China. Here in the US, it’s friendship, peace, remembrance, and support, as in yellow ribbons.
  • Yellow was the most popular color name in 60’s music titles! Yellow Lemon Tree, Big Yellow Taxi, Mellow Yellow, Yellow Submarine, Yellow River and Yellow Polka Dot Bikini to name a few.
  • Yellow is scientifically the highest visibility color. Appropriate in sports, where a yellow jersey signifies the leader in the Tour de France (both honor and safety); while a yellow card is a strong visual when you are being warned of bad behavior while playing rugby or soccer.

Colorful oak tree in White Plains NY

All early painters made their own paint. The earliest yellows came from clay-based yellow ocher or cow urine. (Both were plentiful!!), it’s why cave and tomb paintings used this color extensively.  Van Gogh-a big yellow guy-was one of the earliest adopters of commercially produced pigment. Can you blame him?

Yellows that are true and warm, without any orange or green undertones, and more to the creamy, saturated side are better choices for more people, and more rooms.

Natural and artificial lighting can both play real havoc with how yellow paint colors will read.

For example, because northern exposures get so little direct light, they tend to do better with softer yellows on the walls, and the warmer-toned soft white or the purer-toned bright white/cool white bulbs. (Stay away from daylight color, or halogen bulbs too many blue tones.)

Looking for some suggestions to help make yellow your friend? Start with quality paint. To avoid hard, screechy, or acid tones you want a product with the right quantity and quality of pigment. And PLEASE don’t choose a color you see on a screen!! Live, in person, in the room is the way to go.  Here are some of my go-to favorites to get you going in the right direction.

For that room full of sunshine look, try Benjamin Moore’s Antique Lace (below, left), or the slightly deeper, creamier-toned Banana Cream from Sherwin Williams (below, right)

BM 922 Antique Lace

SW6673 Banana Cream


Yellow Rain Coat (below, left) can hold its own with deeper and bolder tones, or bring a good amount of cheer to an all-white bathroom or a laundry room. Inexplicably have found many of Behr’s yellows lean to brown or pink, but their Upbeat (below right) seems an apt name for this yellow.







BM 2020-40 Yellow Rain Coat            Behr’s P300-5  Upbeat


Soft and nuanced, but with character. These don’t read ‘yellow’, but trust me, those undertones are there!  Perfect if you want more warm and neutral than bright. HC-32 Standish White (below left) and OC-100 Palace White (below, right).







BM OC-32 Standish White                 BM OC-100 Palace White