2021's Top Colour Trend Is Here to Boost Your Mood

We’ve spent most of 2020 and 2021 in lockdown, where all we’ve been able to do is stare at the walls. It makes sense, then, that we’re rethinking our walls - and everything around them. Concepts that were once gauche are now decidedly charming, and there is no better example of that than the influx of yellow in interior design.

Designers, both professional and amateur, have spent the past year covering their homes in lashings of tangible sunshine - think acidic and zingy lemon, warm buttercup, bright yolk, pale primrose, decadent gold and delicious mustards. So, here’s everything you need to know about this popular colour trend so you can add some excitement back into your life.

Why is yellow the trendiest interior colour of 2021?

Convincing people to share their love of yellow - a fairly impractical colour that’s definitely the most difficult of the primaries to incorporate into your home - hasn’t proved as controversial as it might have been two or more years ago. That’s because there has never been a better time for the vibrant hue. It’s the colour of optimism, joy, excitement and energy, and stimulates the nervous system, improves memory and inspires creativity. It’s the perfect counter to the pandemic.

Traditionally, society turns to this mood-boosting hue in times of trouble: women wore yellow ribbons as a sign of hope when their men went away to war, and armies were known to wear yellow sashes into battle.

Fittingly, after a tumultuous 2020 (and now an equally chaotic 2021), both Pantone and Shutterstock named yellow and yellow-adjacent hues as their colours of the year.

Here's How to Incorporate Yellow Into Your Interiors

Whether you decide to saturate your place in this optimistic pigment or embrace energising accents sparingly, this is a colour that wants to be the centre of attention. Yes, it’s bright, but when you control the tone, you control the mood. Whether you’re enthusiastic about yellow or wildly out of your comfort zone, here’s how to work this trendy colour into your home.

Go big and bold

Yellow can be bold but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Grab a brush and go all out: paint your bedroom, your ceilings and your floor. The key is to not be afraid!

The trick is to add dimension by using different shades and tones and letting them interact with one another.

Grab a few test cans and try them in different places in different daylight so you can see whether an acidic yellow is going to be too intense first thing in the morning or be too stimulating as you’re trying to fall asleep. Different lights will affect different yellow paints; a space with a lot of natural light and greenery outside is perfect for soft and earthy Farrow & Ball’s ‘Citrona’, or try Porter’s Paints’ ‘Citrine’ or ‘Mexican Lime’.

Darker spaces, such as staircases or corners, can benefit from the luminosity of a soft pastel yellow, which creates the illusion of light.

If you prefer a singular yellow, think about what you want from the space. Earthy ochers and muted mustards give a soothing ’70s feel, while pale, buttery yellows have a similar effect to other light colours by making spaces seem larger and adding a warm, cosy glow. A corn yellow will instantly introduce a year-round summer vibe, while honey yellows are great for rooms that feature natural wood, and create an immediately cosy and relaxing space.

Find a middle ground

The British journalist, podcaster and self-declared yellow obsessive Pandora Sykes, likens yellow to hair serum: a little goes a long way. So, if making every visible surface yellow is a bit too much for you, you can get creative by balancing sunny shades with other colours. Earthy tints are perfect with terracotta or lilac accents, while gold accents add a chic touch to rosy pinks and forest greens.

Being both bright and warm, yellow is the perfect shade to light up dark corners or make certain areas pop. Unexpected explosions of yellow make great focal points, so consider feature walls painted in Instagram’s favourite shades: Farrow & Ball’s ‘Babouche’ yellow (or Porter’s Paints’ ‘Sugarland’, ‘Soleil’ or ‘Bittersweet’ are close matches) and ‘India Yellow’ (or Porter’s Paints’ ‘Kuchinashi’). The former is a cheerful and bright shade inspired by leather slippers worn by men in Morocco. It’s perfect for large areas, where, according to the creators, “is always dignified and never garish”. ‘India Yellow’ is “strong and moody”, but will add brevity to the space, so it should be used in moderation in small spaces.

Not comfortable wielding a paint brush? Strategically placed strips of yellow wallpaper can add a touch of opulence.

For something less difficult to remove if you change your mind, turn to art and big pieces of furniture. A comfy yellow couch or armchair, with a few pieces of yellow art can liven up any space.

A drizzle of yellow

If you’re understandably reluctant to paint the walls (or you live in a rental), yellow accents are a great entry point into this sunny trend.

You don’t have to commit to a yellow investment like a vibrant couch, either. Temporary items like a vase of daffodils, a bowl of lemons on a table setting, a yellow tablecloth or yellow napkins, will instantly brighten up your living room and dining room. For the bedroom, look towards our bright Turmeric linen sheets and Turmeric towels in the bathroom.

When you’re trying to balance yellows with existing homewares, consider whether you want to go for warm or cool yellows: the latter has green undertones and works well with silver, while the former is warmer and works with gold finishes.

Looking for more trends? The '80s wave is the top interior trend of 2021.

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