For such a cheerful color, yellow can be surprisingly hard to use. Maybe it's just a little too sunny and overpowering. But recently, I fell in love with bright yellow again. It happened while touring The Bonnet House, once a sprawling Florida 1920's home and now a Ft. Lauderdale museum and popular site for artists. From every vantage point, yellow provides exclamation to architecture, ironwork, and trim and asserts its golden joy throughout the house.
The lucky inhabitants of this 35-acre Caribbean-inspired enclave were artists. Painter Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second wife Evelyn Fortune Lily loved primary colors and sought to decorate every surface. Using bold brush strokes and painterly trompe-l'oeil finishes, Bartlett transformed a concrete block compound into a magical dwelling. Linda Schaller, Bonnet's Education Director, confirms that the color palette is indeed original!
FROM THE BONNET HOUSE TO YOUR HOUSE
top right: exerior of Bonnet House with statue and yellow door--
bottom left: http://jesslikeslists.blogspot.com
The doors of the Bonnet House are painted sunshine yellow, and the feeling is warm and lively and welcoming. It's a bright idea that translates well to any front door. When it comes to painting the exterior, bold yellow accents provide a tasteful serving of 'WOW,' especially when placed beside neutral materials such as glass, brown river rock, or gray siding. I spied the last house on the right while roaming the streets of Seattle this past fall. To me the distinctive yellow and gray exterior is an expression of the Northwest climate with fervent hope for more sunshine!
top: Bonnet House Shell Museum and Music Room courtesy of Bonnet House--
bottom: yellow barn door--http://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/idea-houses/texas-idea-house-2009-00400000050550/page31.html
Yellow can bring its energy indoors where it also benefits from pairing up with a neutral, like brown or gray. In a gray and yellow scheme, be sure to add black for definition and drama, add white for calm, crisp relief, and a dose of bling to feel glamorous but not too over the top! At Bonnet, the Bartletts used this harmonious palette to gussy up a music room and to showcase a prized shell collection. In more contemporary settings, the yellow-gray color palette looks just as swell.
I've already referred to Barlett's zest for primary colors, and now . . . Ta Da!!! . . . you see it! This triumvirate color foundation is so secure, that one can tweak the shades and play with the proportions, and unfailingly create a chic well-designed room. Beyond bold Mondrian hues, I'm loving lemon yellow wedged in with powdery blue and lipstick red.
Happy shades of yellow are on my radar, and I'm finding that a lot of my friends feel likewise. I'm currently designing a yellow bedroom and was very excited when I came upon this vintage modern dresser.
I also got excited (and my quest validated) when I found this quote from Dorothy Draper: "Be sure your yellow is not a namby-pamby creamy type that borders on the tan. It doesn't pay to tip toe around a room with a washed out color."