5 ways mustard yellow can enhance your happiness at home

Mustard yellow is warming, vibrant and optimistic. Here's the psychology behind this sunshine shade

a mustard yellow wall with a woode sideboard, a monochrome patterned lampshade and a traditional mustard phone
(Image credit: Little Greene)

Mustard yellow is a powerful color to decorate with. In many ways, it's a color of contradictions; it's both bold and muted, it's warm yet cocooning, it's energising and cosy. But one thing's for certain when it comes to mustard yellow, and that is the positive vibes it brings.  

Decorating a yellow room is no easy feat. You need just the right amount, and the exact specific shade to suit your room. But when it works, mustard yellow decor can keep you feeling happy and uplifted.

But don't just take our word for it, we've spoken to some of the best color experts – from color psychologists to trend forecasters and well-known paint companies, to share exactly why mustard yellow brings us joy.

1. Mustard yellow is mood boosting

Colors found in nature are commonly said to make us feel good, and with the obvious link to sunlight, mustard yellow is no exception. 

Just as many of us feel happier when the sun is shining, a whole wall painted in mustard yellow can trick the brain into feeling uplifted and positive. 

'Yellow is an energy color, meaning it's cheerful and optimistic,' says Patrick O’Donnell, brand ambassador at Farrow & Ball

Dark wood mahogany kitchen with yellow wall

(Image credit: Oyoy)

2. Mustard yellow decor is warming

There's nothing worse than a room that feels cold and clinical, and a splash of mustard yellow is a great way to combat this. 

'Mustard yellow gives a warm glowing feeling, like the warmth in the late afternoon on a warm autumnal day,' say color expert Karen Haller. 

'So it's best suited to rooms where you want to feel warm and cosy with that sun kissed glow. That could be where you eat breakfast to bask in some morning ‘warmth’ or it's a great way to warm up a cold dark hallway,' says Karen.

mustard tiles and grey tiles in a contemporary bathroom with monochrome accessories

(Image credit: Walls & Floors )

3. It's cocooning

Often, colors that are cocooning tend to be moody blues, forest greens or dark greys – they give the feeling that you're snuggled up in a cave, protected from the elements, and safe. 

'Mustard yellow is a rich and complicated shade with just a hint of brown - that stops it from becoming too bright or too sharp,' says Patrick. This hint of brown gives the shade a muddy, earthy and grounded undertone, which give it its cocooning and protecting quality.

Unlike citrus yellow or bright orange, this energising hue is blended with muddy tones to become a hybrid, a shade that is uplifting while also allowing you to hunker down.

Mustard wall painted in bedroom with natural taupe bedding

(Image credit: Dulux)

4. Mustard yellow is versatile 

mustard wall with a wooden sideboard and a monochrome patterned lampshade

(Image credit: Little Greene)

'The versatility of mustard yellow is mainly thanks to its earthy undertone, which is really flattering in cool lights, so it works well regardless of which way your room is facing,' says Punam Chada, buyer at Carpetright.

'Mustard is in the autumnal color family so it’s best friends with olive green, teal blue, aubergine, terracotta and other autumnal colors. Colors in nature have a natural affinity with each other,' says Karen. 

'Because mustard does have a visual sharpness it needs to be balanced with softer naturally colored elements that you can enjoy touching and snuggling into. Warm dark natural woods look amazing with mustard yellow too,' says Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director of Dulux.

mustard yellow living room with mustard walls and a mustard sofa

(Image credit: Crown)

5. It's great for darker rooms 

Whether your room is north or south facing has a huge impact on how paint colors appear. It's often a good idea to balance out a cool, north facing room with warm colors, and a warm, south facing room with cooler colors.

'Mustard yellow can work wonders to inject a sense of warmth and cheerfulness to a room, especially if you have a north facing room or a room where the visual temperature and energy levels need turning up a notch or two,' says Marianne.

'Mustard yellow is a lovely option for a hallway, an area often starved of light. This color will deliver warmth and a welcoming overture to guests arriving,' says Patrick.

Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith

Amelia has worked on Real Homes magazine since 2016 and is now Deputy Style Editor. She takes style inspiration from her city breaks and is on a mission to be bolder with print and colour.

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