Yikes! That's Yellow!
Modern Interior Design Ideas for Yellow

Use yellow with modern interior design ideas to create a contemporary and sophisticated look - minimal with a retro twist.

I share with you exactly how to get the look at home...

decorating with yellow - modern interior design ideas mix yellow with grey and white

The color I’m feeling particularly attracted to at the moment (for all things interior or fashion) is yellow

And it’s actually a really contemporary interior design color at the moment...

So I thought I’d get designing...

And I have come-up with this ultra-modern and sophisticated interior design look with yellow.

Modern interior design ideas use yellow in a slightly different way to the methods of decorating with yellow which you may be used to...

Yellow is a great color to use in your home...

It is known as the ‘sunshine color’ in interior design – as it helps to bring the light of the sun into your home, plus gives you that cheerful sunshine feel.

You can see some more information about the benefits of decorating with yellow, here – plus ideas for lots of color combinations you can try with yellow

Understanding the Look

Yellow with a retro twist - choose accessories carefully

The Basics

This interior design look uses yellow in a slightly different way. Yellow is actually used ‘just’ as an accent color in this look – although, in essence, it is the main color in the design…

This is because the other colors used with yellow are neutrals – so the yellow, as such a bright color anyway, does really stand out as the absolute focal point of the design.

Modern interior design ideas set yellow against a dark background.

As we can see in this design, when you set yellow against a dark background, such as the charcoal gray in this look, the bright color really ‘pops’ – and looks sensational.

This modern way of decorating with yellow, is, essentially, a minimalist way of decorating – very simple, understated, and of course, extremely stylish.

Should you go over to the dark side?

modern interior design ideas -a charcoal grey backdrop for zingy yellow accents

Dark colors give the whole look a very ‘grown-up’ and sophisticated feel.

However, not all rooms can take dark colors as comfortably as others – and not everyone likes to live surrounded by dark colors – so we’ll look at ways of adapting the look to keep the feeling light and bright – and not have to go completely over to the ‘dark side’.

For me, charcoal gray is the best dark color to use as the background for your yellow – other options to consider could be:

  • Black
  • Darkest brown
  • Deep blue

Although other dark colors are, of course, available, sticking to this limited palette of neutrals (considering a deep, deep navy blue as a neutral) makes sure the resulting look is simple, modern and sophisticated – all the effects we want to achieve when decorating with yellow in this new, modern way.

Ultra-hip, retro and modern

Minimalist and modern interior design ideas are the basis for this decorating with yellow style...

But yellow lends itself so well to giving that ultra-hip retro edge to the look – so we’ve blended in a few quirky and colorful retro touches into the design, too – to give it that extra ‘oomph’ that turns a design into your own personality statement for your home.

contemporary floor plan  - L-shaped living and dining room - yellow and grey design

Yellow Modern Interior Design Ideas ~ Getting the Look in Detail


Clearly the main color in the look is yellow.

But it is used in a relatively small amount as the ‘main’ color...

And in fact the largest ‘quantity’ of colors which should be used are the neutral colors which make up the background of the look.

simple living room design with yellow and gray

These retro-modern interior design ideas go best against a dark background – and I’ve chosen dark gray as my recommendation for this look, as it’s dark enough to give the drama we’re looking for with this style…

…but it’s not harsh (as black might be).

The charcoal gray gives a softer, luxurious or decadent background to set your yellow against – and makes the yellow color appear richer and more vibrant by contrast.

Working with dark colors – adding the light

Of course, unless you have a well-lit and large room, dark colors can be quite difficult to work with, and to get right…

That’s why we suggest, for this look, not going for all-over dark gray for your background.

A dark color all over (even with the ‘pops’ of yellow which we’ll add in, in a minute) can quickly become oppressive, and can also make your room feel:

  • darker
  • smaller
lighten up dark grays with white, wood and a statement wallpaper

Benefits of Wood

So, here, we’ve lightened up the look by keeping the flooring in a mid-toned, tan wood.

Wood is a great neutral to add into the room, as it gives a lighter tone, plus the rich texture and pattern of a natural material, which adds a real depth and soul into the style.

Try to choose a tone and color of wood that fits with both your accent yellow, plus your darker background. Warm-toned woods (with yellow or orange undertones) are usually best for this.

Mid-toned woods (like the one in this design) are a good mid-point between the dark charcoal background, plus the bright yellow, plus the lighter whites, which we’ll add in later.

You might want to choose a paler or darker wood, though, if you think it will suit your own room or your own modern interior design ideas and styles, better.

modern yellow accents in a gray living dining room

Where’s the White?

Although the yellow is the contrast to the dark gray, and the main color (and main accent color) of this design – you will likely want to add in some whites (or pale greys).

White is brilliant to add into a dark look like this, as it helps to make the look suitable, even for small and dark rooms.

The amount of white you want to add will depend on:

  • The size of the room you are styling
  • How light or dark the room already feels
  • Your own personal preferences as to how you like your room to look

In the design I’ve prepared for this page, we’ve included a fair amount of white, to really lighten the look, and to make it suitable for most rooms.

gorgeous modern tree wallpaper with a retro style - yellow sofas contrast in this modern living room

It’s a great idea to have an accent wall of a lighter color.

You could have an accent wall of yellow, but as yellow is such a strong color, I think a large accent wall can sometimes still be a bit much…

A great alternative is this gorgeous statement wallpaper (see the image above), which uses white as it’s background color – and also the black/charcoal gray, to create a striking graphic pattern - perfect modern interior design ideas for your contemporary yellow style.

  • It’s a much better idea to use a pattern on this accent wall, ideally one using white and black/gray – as this brings the two main colors together, and gives better balance of colors through the room.
  • If you just used a plain white wall here, it may not look like an accent wall at all (just an unpainted wall, maybe) – or the contrast between the dark gray and the bright white may appear too harsh and stark.
  • Using both black/gray and white, together, in this way, then allows us to bring both colors into other parts of the room, in furniture and accessories. We’ll look at this aspect of the design in more detail a bit later.

It’s time to yell for the yellow!

add yellow accessories against your background of neutral colors

Well, I’ve looked into the basics of this design quite a bit, but so far I’ve barely mentioned yellow…

So, now it’s time to wheel out the yellow!

Like I said, yellow is a very important color for this look – it's the most important color for these retro-modern interior design ideas – but to keep the look subtle and sophisticated in tone, we don’t want to overdo it.

Bring in the yellow carefully – it’s a strong color, so a little does go a long way.

I’ve chosen a couple of gorgeous, yellow, statement pieces of furniture for this look – 2 modern-styled yellow sofas.

These give a good solid block of color in the room, without being too much – we can then reflect the yellow color in other accessories around the room.

You don’t need to use sofas, you could use cabinet doors in a kitchen, bedding in a bedroom, a brightly painted sideboard or chest of drawers, or even just sofa throws or curtains/blinds to get that large block of color in.

Reflecting the Yellow

Once we’ve got the main yellow accents in, the next step is to reflect this accent color around the rest of the room.

We will add in more, smaller, yellow pieces in different parts of the room.

Some good ideas for these smaller yellow accents are:

  • pictures and paintings
  • vases
  • cushions
  • throws
  • ornaments

You can also look for larger pieces where yellow makes up just a part of the whole – for example, a curtain with a white and yellow pattern, or a black and yellow bedspread.

add yellow accents around the whole of the room


Keep to minimalist and modern interior design ideas as you choose your styles of furniture.

I’ve chosen both black and white pieces of furniture in the room, as this gives a balance between both colors in the room.

It is also a good idea to think about where you intend to position a piece of furniture before you decide on its color.

In this design, the small bookshelf and sideboard look fantastic in white, as they stand out (contrast) so well against the dark walls.

In other parts of the room this contrast would be less apparent, so you can choose whatever suits, and even introduce some wood tones.

The usual interior design rules apply, and if your room is on the dark or small side, lighter colored furniture will help with this.

pale dining room furniture can help lighten up dark wall colors

Pale rooms can cope with the darker colors for furniture.

And if your room feels ‘cold’ (unwelcoming) at all, warm wood tones will really help warm the whole look up.

Before I go, I just want to mention…

  • White blinds against the dark gray walls are a great design solution, here – modern interior design ideas, and at the same time, they give that much needed ‘lift’ to lighten up the dark wall.

  • Always make sure there is never a very large uninterrupted dark wall – if it seems too much, simply break it up with a contrasting pale (white) or bright (yellow) piece, such as:
  • furniture
  • pictures
  • curtains or blinds
  • Contemporary-styled accessories, such as cushions, ornaments and pictures or paintings are essential modern interior design ideas for the look. Here, the pictures give a hefty shot of yellow into the room, and a retro-modern twist…
  • Do look out for a few retro accessories or retro-design accessories, fabrics or other pieces – this is what gives your look true personality and ‘panache’!
  • Remember, though, it’s not all about the yellow – do allow some other colors in, to break up the look – deep reds, blues and oranges are ideal (look for paintings with these color combinations, as here).
  • Fresh, green plants are also perfect finishing touches for these gray and yellow modern interior design ideas – and give real ‘life’ to a room – always try and include living plants and flowers in your designs.

Modern Interior Design Ideas in Yellow

Take a look at some great modern interior design pieces in yellow, which you can use to kick-start your decorating with yellow plans

  • This is a live feed from eBay, and is constantly updated.
  • Simply click on any product, for more details, or to bid or buy…

Hope you bag a yellow bargain!

Where to get further information about the styles

For larger images, video walk-throughs, and information about products and colors used in this design, take a look at the links below:

Take a closer look at the ‘Yikes! That’s Yellow!’ Moodboard on Sampleboard.com


  • more images
  • interactive floorplan
  • 3D walk-through

Visit the 'Yikes! That's Yellow!' project page on RoomSketcher

Create your own designs online

Use the virtual moodboard tool I used to inspire this look, to get started with your own designs...

Where to go next

More color combinations to try with yellow

More hot new trends and colorful contemporary interior design ideas

More ideas for decorating with yellow

Zesty lemon relaxer look

Sunshine yellow country kitchen

Choose another color

Try a different color

Quick color fixes

Try our fun quiz to match your personality to a color scheme

Learn how to use the color wheel – make your interior design color choices easy

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