Why you should never paint your kitchen yellow

[updated: with photos]

Because it's quite near impossible to find just the right shade of yellow, that's why.

Prior to the saga of repainting our kitchen (which, for the record, was already yellow to begin with), I felt pretty confident with my gifts in choosing color for my walls.

Not so anymore.

What I feel now is pretty confident that I should hire an interior decorator next time. (Which will never happen, by the way.) So I am through with painting for a very long time.

What happened was that on a whim (Ahem. Never a good start.) I decided that I wanted a fresh coat of paint in our kitchen, and I wanted blue this time! So I chose a pretty shade of blue. It truly was lovely, but on my kitchen walls, I hated it.

It made our kitchen look so cold I practically shivered each time I entered the room. Mark didn't really get all of my inquiries to the tune of: "But doesn't it feel COLD in here, now? As in, a little icy?"

He says he's never felt warm or cold about any color before, ever in his life.

I think he just didn't want to paint it all over again.

But, being the best husband in the world, and not wanting me to hate my kitchen, since I do spend an awful lot of time in there, he said we should change it.

So I went back to the paint store to find something to cover the lovely shade of blue that did not belong on our kitchen walls. I came back with several yellow swatches-- I wanted a warm, sunny yellow--but none really stood out to me. So Mark stopped at another paint store and cleaned out all of their yellow paint swatches. Didn't like those either. So he went to another store and brought back several more. Who knew there were so many shades of yellow? And so few warm, sunny yellows, to boot?

We finally settled on one. It looked warm and sunny on the little card. However. On our walls? It looked yellow/gold. Imagine with me, if you will, the yellow hue of McDonalds' golden arches? Mmm hmm. Pretty much.

All over my kitchen.

Not so much the "warm and sunny" shade of yellow I was looking for.

Too bad that as we were painting it on I kept saying to Mark, "I am so thankful to cover up this blue. Thank you for doing this all over again. I promise that no matter what this looks like, I'll keep it up for two years, honey." When all was said and done I nearly had to put on sunglasses to walk into my kitchen because it was so glaringly bright (what were we thinking, choosing that horrific color?!). And, honestly, there were a few tears on my part (I felt terrible that I couldn't get it right and we were basically pouring time and money down the drain.) I despised it so much that Mark took pity on me and said we could paint- again.

Back to all the little paint cards. No need to head to any more stores; we already had every single yellow paint card in town. But alas, there were no warm, sunny yellows.

And so. Back to the original store. Found an entirely new paint card with a paint color called Sunglow, which sounds perfect as far as the "warm and sunny" stipulation, and it looked about two shades lighter and less gold in tone than the paint currently on our walls [cringe], so we hoped to get it right on the third try.

We did.

Newly painted kitchen in a warm and sunny yellow?


[Although Mark tells me he's pretty sure we're back where we started. He thinks it looks awfully similar to the yellow we'd had on our walls prior to my whim. But I think it's quite different. And since he's such a champ he's humoring me.]

And. In my defense, and this is what I was trying to impress to Mark at the time of painting the primer for paint choice #2, I really am very easy to please. I had the original yellow on my walls for 8 years. And while many women want entire remodels and new cabinets and fixtures, I, on the other hand, am entirely happy with a $30 can of paint (or three) and rearranging the furniture we already own.

As for the blogging break, I think I'm done. I missed you! How are you? And while you're answering that, do tell me some of your own painting disasters, why don't you? It will make me feel so much better.

Okay. Here are a few pictures:
(with flash)

(without flash)

And. As I was uploading those, I found proof of our horrific paint color #2, right here:

So now you see. (Although the photo really does not do it's ickyness justice.)


  1. I overheard a very hoity-toity interior designer one time talking to a client about "how to choose the correct yellow".
    It's all about Winnie the Pooh.
    Look at the darkest color on the swatch and make sure it has that orangey winnie the pooh hue to it...not "classic pooh", but good old fashioned orangey winnie the pooh. move up nearly to the lightest color... and you've got the "perfect yellow".

    It worked for me!! And I didn't have to hire her.

  2. Oh Stacy... I wish I'd known. I painted one girl's bedroom THREE times in yellow. Then another girl's bedroom in another house THREE times. Then finally at this house, I have the perfect yellow as my main color. People ask me for it all the time. I could have saved you! Just know I feel your yellow pain.

  3. Oh, and btw, missed you dreadfully, am leaving in the middle of the night tomorrow, and am packing away. :) I'll be out of blogland for a while; I'll miss you all over again.

  4. Hi Stacy :) So, so good to have you back! I missed you.

    I am sorry about the coats of many colors saga... welcome to the yellow club. There is (a tiny tad) of comfort in the fact that many of us have been there :) Love, Q

  5. Oh, how I have missed you. What a great opening post. As for painting, about 4 years ago we had a house referred to as the crayola house. I couldn't stand white...so we didn't have a white wall in our house. The crayola comments weren't from an affection for our walls either. I'd probably do it all over again but use earth tones on all the walls. The biggest lesson I learned from our crayola house....is never take all that time to paint a rental :o)

  6. Beige family room...became "salmon" upon painting...'nuf said.

  7. Well if it helps, it also took me three tries to find the perfect green for our kitchen. Although...for each try I bought a quart size can and just painted a large swatch. :)

    I'm so glad you're back!!!

  8. My house is all white. Color is so hard to do!

  9. Are you going to show us? Come on...that is way too much work not to post the finished work!


    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  10. I agree with Kimmie: Show us a picture! I have always been confident with color-picking, too, but there've been several bad paint moments for me, too: one was a nasty blue-green in a tiny half bath at our old house. Currently I have a weird pink color in my kids' bathroom, but am too lazy to repaint. :)

  11. I had a neon-yellow baby room. We needed sunglasses in it, but we left it up! Funny how the sample just never quite looks the same on the walls.

    I have the perfect yellow in most of my house now, but frankly I'm ready to change it. But hubby and I can't agree on what colors to change it to!

    Why is yellow always part of the painting equation?

    Missed you. Glad you're back! :-)

  12. Bought three different colors on three different days for three different rooms in my upstairs...brought them home and couldn't believe how similar they all were(though the chips were picked from different sections of the racks, and all had different names and shades in the store!!). The result is a very, very monocromatic upstairs...all very like shades of brown...my husband just shook his head at me and said, "Well, at least you're consistent."


    I'm glad you're happy with you're yellow. Looking forward to seeing your kitchen!

  13. yellow huh? I like that grit and determination in a person.

  14. Stacey-

    Have you ever thought about hiring an interior decorator?

    Before you think- OH! Who can afford that??? It's for wealthy people.

    Listen- really not true. I hired a good interior decorator for $60 an hour. She came to my house with paint chips in hand and helped me pick the right colors for every single room in the entire house. The colors are all beautiful- I love them. I spent $75 total to have the Int. Dec. come out.

    And now every room is painted the exact right color- I love how my house feels- so calm and peaceful and restful.

    There are, of course, decorators who cost more but I think you could find someone reasonably priced in your area to come out to your house and help with choosing paint colors.

    Trust me, it was SO worth it!

  15. Oh! I love your new yellow! I am so glad you have a color that you can be happy with!
    And for the record, I think it is different than the origional (pre-blue) color.
    I really like it!

  16. I think the new yellow is just perfect and although a bother, worth the multiple tries.

    I am glad you are back blogging. I have missed you...how are all the kiddos!?

  17. I SOOOOOOOO wanted to see the blue color, too!!!
    I am glad that you have your warm, sunny yellow...now I just need to see it with my own to eyes (IRL!)


  18. ooops. of course I meant "two" , not "to" eyes!
    I KNOW that you noticed!

  19. the good news is that yellows settle down after awhile. really! i've painted lots of yellow and they always tone down after a bit....or maybe that's the retinal damage...*grin*

    i do think it looks cheery. much better than cold blue!

  20. When we built our first home, I HAD to ahve a sunny, yellow bedroom. I thought it would be cheerful, but it ended up just plain BRIGHT!!!!!!!!! We couldn't get the room dark enough no matter WHAT we tried!

    I came her to read your blog, because I read your post on Emily's blog about her step-mom. I could have written it, word for word, comeplete with the # of steps that have been in the picture. We are even the same age :o). Anyway, I had to come and *meet* the person that knew my pain so well.

  21. Oh yay! I missed you so much, Stacy!!

    Ummm, yeah. Not so crazy about your McDonald's yellow. But the one you finally ended up with is deliciously warm and kitcheny. I'm glad your dear husband had compassion on you :-)

    I so enjoyed reading this story as we are about to paint our guestroom. Well, I thnk we are anyway. Edie may not totally be aware of the fact that I was really serious when I mentioned it a month ago!

  22. OK, so rewind to our after-Thanksgiving post about the EIGHT coats of red paint (which is a lovely color, but the whole house still reeks of paint if we've had the windows closed for more than 24 hours...) there's our current paint saga. But there was a time when we lived in Chicago that I wanted to change my bathroom to a lovely terra cotta color. We went to the store, picked it out, and when the mixer-guy (who looked about thirteen, honestly!) showed it to me, I said, "That's not the right color." My lovely husband (who hates conflict) said, "But it always looks different on the wall!" so we took it home. And painted the whole bathroom. It was hideous... imagine orange sherbet. Our neighbor came over with her 12 year old daughter after the second coat. The daughter said, "Did you really mean to paint it that color?" No, we didn't. So I ended up adding half-a-can of blue from the other bathroom's leftover can to the half-a-can of orange to get a whole can of a light browny (maybe puce?) color to cover it up... in two more coats... which we repainted six months later anyway... red. I feel for ya.

  23. I love color in the house. When we bought our house after being married for 14 years, in wich all our walls were either white or antique white, we decided on color in every room. I searched and searched for the colors to get exactly what I wanted. I knew that once I painted, we'd keep the same colors for quit a few years. We've been in our house for 3 years now and I am definately not tired of any of my choices. I picked all my colors from Lowes, and then witht he exception of the red in the kitchen I was able to get a match at Wal-Mart. The red was nearly impossible to match, I tried 2 different times at wal-mart, it was either too red or too pink, therefore we ended up with spending the extra $$, but it was well worth it. Oh, we also had to be sure all my colors went together somewhat.

    you can see pictures of my home here. Okay, try looking at February 2006 there are some pictures posted.

  24. You know I didn't even comment on your yellow. I like it, it seems very calm and cozy. Your husband--what a trooper. I believe you that it is different, because it is new, fresh and clean.

  25. Missed you too!!

    As for my painting experience, I truly LOVE color in my home. When we were painting our newly self-built, self-decorated home, a friend of ours made the comment that our home looked like a crayola box had exploded...I took it as a compliment! ;-) But in my crayola colored home, I do NOT have a single room of yellow.

  26. My rule for painting is to choose a color, look at the swatch and go two shades lighter. Paint always seems to get darker and brighter when it dries and is in a real room. I have a yellow kitchen I love. It is two shades lighter than I picked and initially putting it on it was to light but now it is perfect.

  27. Here is the problem with Yellow... first of all, you must stay away from Lemon Yellows. Those are Yellows with a lot of Green in them. If you go too much Green, you end up with a Lemon-Lime colour, *ugh*.

    Always choose the PALEST colour on the Paint-Strip in the CREAMY YELLOW family. Kinda like a very, VERY pale Butter colour.

    Yellow shows up on a wall like you just won't believe. That's why it's so hard for people when wanting to paint with Yellow. They look at the PALE Yellow and think, 'Oh, that's so NOTHING! I want a SUNNY Yellow!', *lol*

    So, they go for the Yellows farther down on the Paint-Strip. And what they end-up with is NEON, CRAYON-WORLD on their walls, yuk.

    The deeper shades of Yellow should only be used as colour splashes throughout your room in the form of Fabrics, Vases, Curios, Art Work, etc.

    Take your Fabric with you to match the Shade, then go all the way to the top of the Paint-Strip and choose the PALEST Yellow to paint the walls with. If your Fabric, or whatever, is in the Lemon Yellow family, you will still go for the Creamy, Buttery Yellow.

    As well, WHENEVER choosing a paint colour, figure on spending the money for two, three, even four quarts of paint just to find out which colour is best! Take each one home in their turn and actually paint it on the wall in at least a 12" x 12" area. Paint it at various places, such as next to the window, on the opposite wall from that, and on the darkest wall. Then watch the colour throughout the day. The light that comes into your room will change from morning to afternoon to evening.

    If you don't hit the mark on the first choice, then it's back to the store for another quart of colour to try.

    If you're painting over a dark colour with a lighter colour, 'tis best to prime your walls with something like KILZ first. Otherwise, you're gonna have to paint three or four coats of the lighter colour over the darker colour to be able to cover it.

  28. Well that hurts, i just finished paiting my kitchen yesterday and i swear i could post a pic and if i edited in the kids it would nearly be identical, but i like it. Havent got to the decorating stage so we'll see how that goes. Glad you found a color to suit you.

  29. Just a thought for future projects... the designers I've seen always slap a couple of swipes of paint on the wall and let it dry before doing the entire room... that way if it dries a different color, you haven't committed yourself with time or money - and you only have to prime over the small spot before painting the color you really do want.

  30. what brand is sunglow? I love it and I'm painting my kitchen yellow in a couple weeks.

  31. I have a yellow kitchen....felt I always HAD to have one....problem is, now I'm having a hard time working around it :( I'm unsure of what color to make the cabinets when we replace them and the countertop needs replacing too. Thinking on sticking with white to match the appliances and for easy re-sale...but I'm afraid it will make the room TOO bright. BTW the room is somewhere in between your #2 and your sunglow....called "Jonquil Yellow". A beautiful yummy melted butter color :) but hard to work with considering the amount of bold avacado/olive greens throughout the rest of the house :(

  32. Someone recently asked about our color... the one we settled on finally... and now love! It's Sunglow, by Valspar. Link here:

    Hope that helps!

  33. So if the kitchen is yellow what's a good color match for the adjoining dining room??

  34. We don't have a dining room, and I'm not an interior designer by any means so cannot give advice on this. Sorry!

  35. I hate yellow kitchens. Why does everybody think they have to paint a kitchen yellow? Yuck.


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