A yellow color combination can look warm and cheerful, but only as long as you combine it with the right colors - and in the right proportions.
When things go wrong with yellow palettes (and they frequently do), it's usually because the yellow was too intense or cloying ...
... or there was simply too much yellow in a room.
With that said, anything from sunny lemon to murky mustard can be the starting point to a wonderful yellow color combination. Check out the palettes below!
↑ This colorway is for a summery, 'British seaside' palette with plenty of Old World charm. Brighten up pale straw yellow with nautical blues, and add rose accents for warmth. Use a darker shade of blue as a 'soft black', for accents or trims. White gives this yellow color combination a clean, fresh feel.
Best wall colors to go with this palette: Cream, white, grayed pink or (if it's a sunny room) a light 'misty' blue.
Best wood stains: Any, from blond (e.g. birch, pine, maple) to reddish tones (e.g. cherry) to deep browns.
↑ Juicy citrus colors make great interior design color schemes for kitchens. Modern Italian kitchen color schemes often use citrus accents against a white marble backdrop.
Best wall colors to go with this color combination: White, pastel yellow.
Best wood stain: Limed oak.
↑ Note how feisty even a desaturated red looks in this pale neighborhood! You need the deep, warm lemon & strawberry accents to breathe life into this yellow color palette and keep it from looking washed out. (Here's a simplified version of yellow-grey room color combinations!)
Best wall colors: Palest primrose, faint grayish green, white with a hint of neutral grey. Consider painting an accent wall in full-on lemon yellow, red, or dark(ish) hay green.
Best wood stains: Teak or walnut.
↑ Perfect for a young child's room or a restful bedroom, this gentle pastel color scheme plays with the 'opposing' nature of yellow and blue on the 4-primary color wheel chart. You will need one darker shade, say, a deep blue or a dark leafy green, to give this room color scheme some profile and depth.
Best wall colors: Palest yellow or milky white.
Best wood stains: Light blond (e.g. birch) or honey-colored woods (e.g. rustic pine or oiled oak)
↑ A yellow/plum complementary room color scheme for a 'modern rustic' Mediterranean kitchen or a bedroom with attitude (Roxanne did something like this in her master bedroom makeover.) A few scarlet and turquoise accents enliven the acidic, greenish yellow and its bright warm counterpart. Use the yellows sparingly. This takes some courage to use, but you'll hear a lot of "WOW" when you're done!
Best wall color: Slightly purplish grey.
Best wood stain: Any dark, cool, grayish brown.
↑ This is a tonal, triadic color scheme, a muddied version of the 3 primary colors (red, yellow, blue). It works best when you reserve the red for accents and give most of the space to the yellow & blue (they're 'opposing' colors on the Hering color wheel).
Best wall colors: Whipped cream, cool pale grey.
Best wood stains: Walnut, teak.
Finally, you could take the very same mustard yellow and turn it into red-yellow-green(ish) room color combinations like this one:
↑ Pale coral and pretty much any blue or green looks good in a mustard yellow color combination - as long as the blue or green has a strong hint of turquoise in it. Use these two palettes to create an English retro feel. They're incredibly popular here in Britain, both for interiors and fashion.
Best wall colors: Cream, palest duck-egg blue/green.
Best wood stains: Oiled oak or a dark, grayish brown.
For more yellow color ideas and information, click a thumbnail:
Plus, here's some additional color inspiration you may want to look at: