Is magnolia paint back in style? How to make the once dated shade look brand new

Don't fear yellow undertones - magnolia could be the inviting shade your home is missing

Cream bedroom with fireplace
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Many of you will hear the words 'magnolia paint' and shudder. Synonymous with early noughties decor that we've spent subsequent years scrubbing from our homes, the yellow hue is famously unpopular. But in a turn of events, magnolia might just be making a comeback.  

Neutral palettes are having a shake-up in 2024 - while white is still a staple, homeowners are leaning towards paint ideas with warmer undertones (like yellow) to make their spaces feel homely and inviting. But we can understand your hesitation to make magnolia a mainstay, so we've found contemporary ways to style the shade. 

It doesn't have to look yellowed and dated - magnolia can be a fresh and inspiring paint trend that has hints of playful colour while still being easy to decorate with. So, here's where to use magnolia around your home, whether as a living room paint idea or to revamp a kitchen design. 

How to decorate with magnolia paint

So magnolia is making a comeback, but where and how do you use it? Vision is important here. With a lack of styling, the yellow-toned shade will date a room quickly, but if you shed it of its past, it remains a fabulous off-white that will open up a smaller room while adding a touch of depth. 

'Magnolia gets a ‘bad rep’ in decor, but the colour certainly doesn’t have to be boring, outdated or stale,' says Anjelica Delfino, paint and interior expert at Valspar Paint

'Compared to the 80s, where the colour was an antidote to the vibrant pop art-inspired colour blocking, it has now gone back to basics in 2024 with its pleasing neutral tone of cream and is now being used to create harmonious calming spaces, modern and curated as easy to layer.'

1. Make a kitchen the hub of the home

Cream kitchen with black french doors

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Cream is a core feature of traditional kitchen ideas and one that arguably doesn't date. When paired with modern hardware to take it from country to classic, magnolia is a fast way to make a kitchen feel like a hub for family and friends to gather in. 

Matching the colour of your kitchen cabinetry with the walls is also a clever solution to making a room feel larger too. Colour drenching has become increasingly popular and will make magnolia walls feel fresh and contemporary. 

2. Warm up a lounge

Magnolia living room with cream armchairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A living room is where your mind most likely goes to when reminiscing on magnolia paint schemes, but our predecessors were certainly onto something - it will make your lounge feel sunnier and enveloping.  

Cool-toned neutral shades are a common feature of modern living room schemes but depending on the natural light in the space, they can create a cold and stark mood. 

'Magnolia is also ideal for matching with both light and darker tones, including the very on trend wood and oak furnishings. This sophisticated, curated and minimal interiors style is an evolution of the minimalist, natural styles that we have seen in recent years, incorporating a vintage twist with the specific magnolia shade,' adds Anjelica. 

So if mid-century furniture is your thing, then magnolia could be the ultimate living room colour scheme to pair with it. 

3. Create a colour scheme to switch off in

Cream bedroom with fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What better shade for the bedroom than a relaxing and inviting off-white that looks equally as chic at night as it does in the brightness of the morning?

Grey bedroom schemes were once popular for their Zen-like qualities but if you're bored of this palette, then magnolia will be an excellent alternative.

'Over the last decade, the popularity of greys grew overtaking the previous trend for more yellow based off-whites,' adds Helen Shaw, director of international marketing at Benjamin Moore.

'However, in more recently years, although greys continue to be a staple in many of our homes, we’re seeing warmer neutrals are taking centre stage. These warmer neutrals have muted undertones that add a contemporary feeling to rooms whilst also instilling a comforting sense of calm.'

Magnolia shades we love

Paint shades have so much variety from brand to brand and picking the perfect magnolia colour that has the exact right undertones might be tricky. Here are our favourite picks for the ultimate mellow design. 

Which room are you going to try magnolia out in first?

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).