No. 14 No. 10 Yellow Greens by Mark Rothko
The color yellow has been getting its due lately. In just the past few months it seems to be popping optimistically from the pages of shelter magazines and design books. Perhaps it is a reflection of the times in which we live, with sights set on a brighter future, or a longing and remembrance of things past. Whatever the cause, yellow is back!
A living room designed by Axel Vervoordt for a house in Portugal. Photography by Laziz Hamani.
Is there ever really a wrong time for spreading a little sunshine over our domestic lives?
Veere Grenney’s bedroom at his new London apartment featured in the October, 2013, issue of The World of Interiors.
But when particular colors suddenly come into fashion – or in most cases re-emerge as they do – is it due to a collective yearning or is it capitalism at work?
A Manhattan bedroom designed by Stephen Sills featured in the October, 2013, issue of Architectural Digest. Photo by Bjorn Wallander.
After all, if you have just settled into your blues and grays of the past few seasons what is going to encourage you to hire an interior designer or plan your own home improvement projects to brighten those refreshingly serene or coolly elegant rooms?
A Naples, Florida, living room was decorated by Carrier & Company with shots of yellow, featured in the October, 2013, issue of House Beautiful. Photo by Eric Piasecki.
On one hand we have fashion – the production and marketing of new styles of goods that become popular trends.
Carrier & Company also designed the yellow banquette for a pool pavilion at the Naples, Florida, residence. Photo by Eric Piasecki.
And on the other hand we have style, which is more elusive – a manner of doing, behaving or making something which invariably infers elegance and sophistication.
Miles Redd injected a Lyford Cay vacation house bedroom with Sister Parish cheeriness using an exuberant yellow fabric for the bed and curtains and floral wall covering. Featured in the August issue of AD. Photo by Bjorn Wallander.
Coco Chanel proclaimed “Fashion changes, style endures”
Christopher Maya introduced a lemon yellow lacquer table to the blue, white and butter yellow color scheme of a guest room in the Hamptons home of J. Christopher Burch, also featured in the August issue of AD. Photo by William Waldron.
Yves Saint Laurent maintained “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”
Christopher Maya also designed the entrance hall of this New York apartment, covering the walls with wide horizontal yellow stripes. Photo by Lucas Allen.
“Design is coming to grips with one’s real lifestyle, one’s real place in the world. Rooms should not be put together for show but to nourish one’s well- being.” — Albert Hadley, The Story of America’s Preeminent Interior Designer
In the August issue of AD Ernest de la Torre hung the walls of a Manhattan stairwell with custom wallpaper made by de Gournay. Photo by Pieter Estersohn.
“Remember, color is not just color, but mood, temperature and structure.” Van Day Truex, Interiors, Character, and Color
For her husband’s ancestral home in New York’s Hudson Valley Allison Spear dressed a pair of 19th-century settees in a Scalamandre flame stitch. AD; June, 2013. Photo by Joshua McHugh.
“Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.” Ralph Lauren
In the same June issue of AD Amelia Handegan washed the library of a Virginian plantation house in mellow yellow. Photo by Pieter Estersohn.
“Innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting.” — Sister Parish
Bunny Williams designed this entrance gallery for a home in Virginia with buttery yellow trompe l’oeil–damask wall panels in 2012. Photo by Pieter Estersohn.
” A foyer sets the tone… it either builds you up or lets you down.” — Robert Kime, Architectural Digest
In the same year Stephen Sills framed a Manhattan living room with classic golden glamour. Photo: William Waldron.
“Forget rules. The only important consideration is how the colors look and work in a room.” – Stephen Sills, from Dwellings – Living With Great Style.
For a sitting room in a Manhattan apartment featured in AD in 2011 David Kleinberg introduced a jolt of chrome yellow on a traditional upholstered lounge chair. Photo by Eric Piasecki
“Beauty is the quality of harmonious relationships. A formula to produce it it does not exist.” – Frank A. Parsons, Interior Decoration: Its Principles and Practice
Steven Gambrel punctuated the black-and-white color scheme of this Manhattan living room with a golden yellow sofa and matching curtains for balance. Photo by Simon Upton.
“Yellow is a color that’s easier to use as a textile than a paint.”— Steven Gambrel, Elle Decor; November 2007
Jeffrey Bilhuber selected a chiffon yellow to enliven the sedate blues of the upholstered furniture. From The Way Home.
“Paint can be used to create drama or metaphysical exclamation points in a house.” — Jeffrey Bilhuber, from Jeffrey Bilhuber Design Basics.
For a Manhattan apartment bedroom Alex Papachristidis enveloped the glamorous custom-made bed in Chinese yellow silk from Donghia. Photo by Simon Upton.
“Whatever you do in your decorating philosophy, be brave….never wish you hadn’t taken your vision right to the end. Make a bold statement.” — Roger Banks-Pye, Colefax and Fowler Interior Inspirations
Mary McDonald created perfect balance and strong contrast in this glamorous neo-Regency-style living room using chrome yellow against a black, white and brown scheme. Photo by Tim Street Porter.
“White with splashes of color works best in rooms with good architectural detailing.” — Stephen Sills
Albert Hadley introduced measured doses of jonquil yellow to the otherwise all-white scheme in the living room and dining room of his cottage in Naples, Florida. House Beautiful. Photo by Fernando Benoechea.
“Decorating is not about making stage sets, it’s not about making pretty pictures for the magazines; it’s really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.” — Albert Hadley, The Story of America’s Preeminent Interior Designer
In the tradition of Nancy Lancaster’s drawing room at Avery Row Jasper Conran painted his drawing room at Ven House a bright sunflower yellow. Photo by TIm Beddow for The World of Interiors, October, 2011.
“The tailored colour of the drawing room is meant to work with both sunlight and dull, dead light”. — Jasper Conran
Mario Buatta, the “Prince of Chintz”, continued the legacy of Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler’s taste for colorful rooms and unselfconscious English country house-style in his own Manhattan living room. The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration, 1976. Photo by Richard Champion.
“I like to think of a decorating a room the way an artist attacks a canvas — some today, some tomorrow and the rest as you go along in life. My strongest weapon is a can of paint. This works magic.” — Mario Buatta on a room he decorated for the Kips Bay Showhouse, 2006.
David Hicks enlivened the dining room of an English country house, Broadlands, with brightly painted yellow walls. From David HIcks: Living With Design.
“Color can achieve more effect in people’s lives at less expense than any other element in interior decoration; a coat of paint can totally transform an area. Colour can change mood and atmosphere – it can make a room warm, gay, receptive, subtle, soft, hard, classical or bizarre.” – David Hicks
Billy Baldwin introduced chrome yellow in a distinctly American fashion in the traditional library of a Dallas home. From Billy Baldwin Decorates.
“When you want to transform a room into an entirely different animal, change the color.” — Billy Baldwin
Michael Taylor designed a Palazzo-style pool pavilion for clients in the 1960’s, punctuating the earthy Italian palette with shots of bright ocher upholstery. From Michael Taylor: Interior Design by Stephen Salny.
“People have often said to me, ‘But you don’t use much color.’ This is not so at all. I build a simple background — usually of white or of a very light shade — for use of color. This simplicity of background gives the feeling of freshness and space and adds a certain note of purity against which the simple lines of the fine furniture show to their best advantage.” — Michael Taylor from The Finest Rooms, 1964.
Stéphane Boudin of the venerable French interior design house Maison Jansen – famous for its unique brand of subtle sophistication – introduced sunny yellow into the Windsor’s Paris townhouse library. From Maison Jansen.
“Real comfort, visual and physical, is vital to every room.”— Mark Hampton, Elle Decor; June/July 1994
Until recently the dining room at Monticello had been a sedate Colonial blue since 1936. Tests revealed this shade of chrome yellow underneath the blue. Restoration of the room and return to its original color was made possible by Polo Ralph Lauren. Photo by Pieter Estersohn.
“I approach houses as a historian. You learn so much at places like Mount Vernon and Monticello.” — Jeffrey Bilhuber
Perhaps it all began here, in Nancy Lancaster’s London drawing room at 22 Avery Row. Though its decoration dates after Monticello the world of interior design didn’t know of Monticello’s original chrome yellow walls until recently. It may be fair to proclaim that Nancy Lancaster, who brought the English country house-style to interior design and decoration, also brought a sunny disposition to the future of how we perceive a house in good taste (I know – that was Elsie!). Photo from Nancy Lancaster.
“In choosing a colour one must realize that it changes in different aspects … Fashions are changeable. Taste is in realizing the essence of a place.” — Nancy Lancaster, from English Country House Style.
Essentially, when it comes down to the colors we choose for our rooms it’s not so much the color in question but the overall atmosphere, quality of light, and suitability we must address. How does the color make us feel? How does it relate to our surroundings – to the location and siting; to the structure’s given architectural vocabulary; to our existing furnishings and collections; and to the overall flow of our interior spaces?” Perhaps Billy Baldwin said it best: “Color should not be subject to the rules of fashion. Any color at any time may be used, especially if it is a favorite color of the person who is to live with it.” From The Finest Rooms, 1964.
Magnificent examples in the use of yellow and so aptly quoted at the end from The Finest Rooms.
Thank you always,
Thank you, Brenda – so happy to hear you enjoyed the post. I hadn’t been feeling or thinking yellow for quite a long while but it’s been calling to me lately. I guess I’m feeling the zeitgeist, or worse – I’m fickle!