Colour is a game changer. It’s proven that bright, cheery colours can have an uplifting effect, so when it comes to kitchen ideas, if you have a drab kitchen that is in need of a pick-me-up, then yellow is the perfect choice.
Yellow is instantly associated with sunshine. So for north-facing kitchens that are starved of natural light, adding sunny yellow will invigorate the space and bring a natural energy and warmth. But while yellow is a bold choice used wall-to-wall in a kitchen, adding just a pop of yellow can have a positive impact on kitchen space too. It helps to lift the mood and add a relaxed, sunny vibe.
Yellow kitchen ideas
‘The kitchen, often seen as the heart of the home, is the perfect space to use bolder colours, such as yellow, which will bring joy and create an energetic scheme,’ says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene. ‘Yellow is a timeless and positive colour. It’s perfect for busy spaces that see a lot of activity such as a kitchen or hallway and can instantly lift the mood and atmosphere of the room.’
1. Add sunshine with a bold yellow splash back
Large, open-plan kitchens can feel quite stark and empty without any additional colour to give the space focus. Painting all the walls yellow would be too overpowering in such a large space. Adding a sunny yellow splashback is the perfect compromise. It adds contrast colour and makes the prep space a focal point.
In a modern, high-gloss kitchen, glass, perspex or laminate splashbacks make a great alternative to tiles. The smooth, glossy finish is practical and easy to keep clean and splashbacks are available in a spectrum of colours. So you can pick the perfect shade to complement your kitchen.
2. Give tired kitchen cabinets a facelift
Bring tired kitchen cabinets back to their best by repainting them. Less costly than a full kitchen refit, if cabinets are sound (but you’re simply tired of the colour), painting them a bright, cheery shade is the perfect pick-me-up.
For a durable and long-lasting finish, don’t be tempted to cut corners. Always use a specialist cupboard or furniture paint that is designed specifically for kitchens and do your prep work first. Kitchen cabinets will need thorough cleaning and de-greasing and the surface primed before paint goes on.
3. Immerse your kitchen in yellow wall-to-wall
For a warm, vibrant look that cocoons the entire kitchen in colour, paint walls, cabinets, woodwork and even the ceiling in the same sunny yellow shade.
'Yellow is a wonderful shade that brings positivity to a space whether used all over, on all four walls and the ceiling, or as a colour highlight,’ says Ruth Mottershead. 'The inherent brightness of yellow tones evoke joy and energy in the home. They are perfect for use in children's rooms, nurseries and vibrant living areas like the kitchen.'
Panelled cupboards, nooks and crannies and beams create areas of light and shade in a one-colour scheme. Add an accent colour with bold black furniture, shelving and kitchenware, for contrast and definition.
4. Make the floor the focal point
Introduce a bold, vibrant colour at floor level. This is a clever way of bringing in colour without it dominating the whole kitchen. An eye-catching mustard yellow vinyl flooring adds energy and warmth to a modern kitchen. Limiting its use to kitchen flooring ensures that the colour doesn’t overpower the unfussy aesthetic of the space.
Smooth vinyl or rubber is a practical choice of flooring for a modern kitchen. Warm and comfortable underfoot, it’s hardwearing and easy to keep clean and comes in a wide range of colour options to suit any scheme.
5. Focus on accent areas
Yellow is such a bold, punchy colour that it can add instant impact even when used in small doses. Using spot colour is an easy way to highlight a decorative feature or favourite piece of furniture and will bring life to a plain kitchen or all-white space.
Try painting a larder unit, freestanding dresser or sideboard in a kitchen or dining area. Or simply paint the kitchen door and skirting in a standout colour to create a cheerful focal point. Add extra pops of colour around the room on tableware and kitchen accessories to tie the scheme together.
6. Add punch to a monochrome kitchen
Classic black and white is a winning colour combination that works in pretty much any style of kitchen, from modern to traditional. But lack of colour can sometimes make a monochrome scheme feel flat, so bring in a splash of sunny yellow to create a livelier vibe.
Adding an accent wall in a soft, buttery shade adds an instant injection of colour that brings a warm, sunny glow to plain white walls and cabinets. Paint a block or panel of colour on a kitchen wall for an easier and less-costly option than a tiled splashback. It can easily be repainted if you fancy a change later on.
7. Add calm with softer shades of yellow
Yellow is a versatile colour that comes in many variations. If bold, sunny shades feel too intense, then take it down a notch and opt for calmer shades of pastel yellow for a softer, more muted effect.
Pale yellows vary from warm buttery shades to cool, fresh primrose and soft vanilla. Try pairing soft, pastel yellows with calm greys and white for a relaxed, restful scheme. Painting the walls of a sunny room in pale vanilla will give a warm and cosy feel in daylight and create a restful mood after dark.
8. Accessorise all areas
The easiest way of introducing yellow into a kitchen colour scheme is by bringing in colourful fixtures, fittings and accessories to give a more subtle nod to the colour, rather than going for yellow wall-to-wall. But while a shot of colour can revitalise a space, be careful not to get too colour-heavy, less is always more when it comes to colourful accessories.
Kitchen stools are an easy way of adding a splash of sunny yellow into a scheme and the colour can be repeated in a few select accessories here and there - or use it on a more unexpected element, such as zingy yellow cables on pendant light fittings.
9. Add a flash of colour inside a display cabinet
Colourful wallpaper or yellow paintwork behind shelves or inside a display cabinet is a brilliant way of introducing an extra shot of colour into a kitchen scheme. Adding a lively colour or darker shade inside creates a contrast backdrop that will make crockery, glassware and display items pop against it. And using remnants of wallpaper or leftover paint samples will cost you nothing to put together.
10. Go for gold for a winning scheme
If you’re planning a kitchen re-fit and considering a new colour scheme, then kitchen cabinets in a mellow golden yellow are the perfect way of bringing warmth to north-facing spaces that can sometimes feel quite cold and chilly.
Muted yellows have an earthier tone than bright accent yellows or soft pastel tones. Variations range from golden yellow, mustard and ochre to paler maize and straw tones, that feel warm and easy to live with and sit well with natural timber, stone and warm-toned metallics.
11. Create a colourful kitchen display
Extend a sunny colour scheme to a kitchen-diner area with a hand-decorated shelving unit in a mix of cheery yellow wallpapers and prints. A display area is the perfect opportunity to work extra colour and pattern into a plain white kitchen and makes useful extra storage for crockery and glassware as well as freeing up crowded cabinets.
Turn a standard off-the-peg shelving unit into a thing of beauty with just a couple of rolls of wallpaper. This is an easy DIY project for a weekend. Select assorted designs in co-ordinating colours and paper the back panels of cubby-holes leaving a couple plain here and there. Then simply fill with your favourite pieces.
12. Bring a burst of sunshine
Adding a vibrant splash of colour at a kitchen window is an easy revamp that will have instant impact in a small kitchen or neutral scheme. A simple roller blind will add a large swathe of colour that will give the room a golden glow. Roller blinds are a practical choice in a kitchen as they are unfussy, easy to keep clean and a safe choice near hobs and sinks.
Is yellow a good colour for a kitchen?
Yellow is a warm and welcoming colour that can work in any room. For kitchens that don’t get much natural light and feel on the chilly side, yellow is a great choice as it will add instant warmth and energy. A good choice for small kitchens too, yellow will infuse a small kitchen with brightness and help open up the space to make it feel bigger.
If an all-yellow kitchen is too bold a choice, introducing yellow in smaller doses is an easy way around it. Consider a two tone kitchen, with base units in yellow and top units in white. Having yellow at the bottom will help to ground the scheme, with white cabinets at the top reducing the intensity of the yellow and making the kitchen feel lighter and loftier. Alternatively, painting a kitchen island yellow is another way of brightening up a plain kitchen with a shot of sunny yellow.
What colour goes with yellow in a kitchen?
Yellow makes a great partner for all kinds of colours. Neutrals are natural bedfellows for bold shades of yellow, with easy-going taupes and oatmeals, or darker walnut and chocolate brown making a smart partnership.
Yellow and grey is another colour combination that has become increasingly popular and works well in a kitchen set-up. Grey acts as a calming neutral to yellow’s brightness, whether teaming mustard yellow walls against soft grey cabinets or vice versa. Black and white is another colour pairing that can be energised by a splash of yellow, whether on fixtures, fittings, accessories, or even just a vase filled with sunny yellow flowers.
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Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.
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