Decorating with Yellow

I have “empty room syndrome” today. I get it whenever I clear a room of furniture. The room didn’t look particularly scruffy when it was “dressed” but now it’s empty it really is asking for a new coat of paint. Well this is good news because I can choose a new paint colour.

I am trying to recreate the sensation I felt when I saw Wolfgang Laib ‘s  hazel nut pollen art installation last year. I would defy anyone to look at this work and not feel gloriously happy, rooted to the spot and completely mesmerised.  The colour of the pollen simply could not be improved.

Wolfgang Laib's Hazel Nut Pollen

As it’s a highly saturated colour I will only be using it in a small area (plus yellow “grows” and intensifies when on a wall).

I am going to mix my own yellow – the reason I am doing this is because it’s a pretty tricky colour to handle. It is all too easy to get greenish undertones in yellow paint because if you try to darken yellow by adding black, instead of turning a darker more intense hue, it actually turns green, very easily and quickly. Plus, you may not see the green under tones until you have painted it all over your walls…..

yellow + black = olive

If you buy ready mixed paint, ask the manufacturer if there is any black in the formula and if there is avoid it unless you want a greenish tinge.

Another thing to bear in mind is that yellow has a high LRV (light reflective value) so it bounces back most of what hits it. It is therefore greatly influenced by surrounding colours – even from outside. If you have leafy green trees outside your window, the yellow will take on a greenish tone. If you live opposite a red brick building, the yellow will look very golden. Lots to consider but get it right and you’ll not be disappointed.

Choosing Colours for a Vertical Surface

This is going to sound very obvious but possibly because it’s so obvious, it’s something that’s often over looked. If you are choosing a paint colour for your walls remember to either pin the sample to your walls or hold it up vertically rather than look at the sample on a flat surface like a table. Why? Because walls are seen in slight shadow (as are ceilings) and the colour will therefore look darker on a wall than it will lying flat on a table where more light can bounce off its surface. This also applies to bathroom tiles.  If for example you tile a bathroom wall and floor in the same tile, the walls will look darker than the floor.

It is particularly relevant when choosing curtain fabric. Fabric can appear much darker when hung especially when there are folds and ruffles casting shadows.

So remember if you are choosing finishes from a mood board don’t lay the board on a flat desk or a table.

The picture below shows the ceiling looking darker than the walls even although the same colour of paint was chosen for both.

On Target

If you are feeling a bit flat or bogged down, can I suggest you have a browse through French company  Domestic wall stickers.

From Finnish artists depicting magical Moominish landscapes to graphic designers such as Ich & Kar with their vivid use of colour in “Target 1” you will discover your problem suddenly becomes which one to choose!

Wouldn’t mind the George Nelson bench in the foreground too…