“Intensity is the key,” says interior designer Gregg Hodson, describing his approach to choosing accent colors he pairs with neutral backdrops. “Neutral on neutral doesn’t stir me in any way.” So when it comes to decorating with yellow, he takes a pass on anything pale or soft. “No baby-chick yellow,” he insists. Think robust. Think pop. But be smart about it. Hodson offers the following tips and inspiring spaces for delivering eye-catching yellow to your décor, this summer and beyond.

Look to everyday items to add yellow to your space. “Pencils, towels, cut flowers dishware, pottery—they’re all simple and beautiful ways to bring yellow into a room,” Hodson explains. In a hallway cabinet, golden yellow towels serve the nearby bathroom while delivering a punch of color to the space.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Grow with it. Hodson paired gray walls with yellow beds and bedding to give this young boy’s bedroom a handsome look and feel that will easily grow with the child as he heads into his teen years.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Think small. “It’s easy to tire of an intense color if you have too much of it,” Hodson says. “By adding just a pop or two of the color, you can enjoy it. And when you want to change it out at some point, it’s easy to replace small objects and accents with others of another color.

Decorating with Yellow
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Take it outside. Yellow is a perfect way to brighten an outdoor living area. “Look to its place in nature and your gardens for inspiration,” Hodson says. “When teamed with dark earthy hues and organic materials, it looks grounded and natural.” The designer chose golden yellow cushions and pillows to pop against the dark woven chairs and sofa in this welcoming covered patio.

Decorating with Yellow
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Use in tandem with orange and red. “I go for warmer colors in mountain regions,” says Hodson, who suggests looking to the mountains for color pairings that can lift your décor. In this lower-level family room, yellow, red and orange add warmth and seasonless appeal to the cozy space.

Decorating with Yellow
Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Consider the shade. “When people say they hate yellow, they typically hate a certain shade of yellow,” Hodson explains. In this gorgeous living room, for example, he added draperies and pillows in rich, brassy yellow—rather than a more primary version of the color—to deliver vibrant pops that are sophisticated and chic.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Pair with gray. “Yellow teams well with gray and brown to create a more masculine edge. It’s a perfect pairing for those who want some muscle behind their design,” Hodson says. Bright yellow towels take this guest bathroom from subdued to striking.

Photo by Scot Zimmerman

Repeat Yourself. “Repetition is important when decorating with intense accent colors, and yellow is no exception” Hodson says. “Reintroducing a color makes an interior look harmonious and pulled together.” This bedroom’s lemon yellow sheets and sunflowers visually link to vibrant yellow cushions on the nearby patio.


Looking for more colorful inspiration? Start here.