There’s a reason purple is associated with royalty: In ancient times, the dye was extracted from mollusks and therefore insanely expensive. Now deep versions of the color still signal luxury, while softer takes are famously soothing (think yoga studio). New York City interior designer Jamie Drake, who has used a vast range of purples during his long career, says a powerful purple piece “can add passion to a room” and will really pop when set against a complementary background color, like green. For a pulled-together look, repeat the purple elsewhere in the room. This makes the overall statement thoughtfully eclectic, rather than just eccentric.
2 of 19 Courtesy of Country Homes and Interiors
The deepest purples, like aubergines and brooding blue-tinted shades, imply grandeur and strike a serious, formal note. These tones are best used boldly, with commitment. Advises Elizabeth Bauer, New York City interior designer and purple advocate: “To make them work, do something major, like all four walls or a set of built-ins.” But go a few tones lighter, and even dark purples will make gathering spaces seem cozy and conversation-friendly. Bauer shares a few of her favorite shades.
3 of 19 Geoffrey Sokol
Best Dark Purple for a Living Room
“Serious drama. Great with moss green or lipstick red accents,” says Bauer.
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10 of 19Geoffrey Sokol
Deliciously saturated, it looks as if it’s been in the family for ages.
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11 of 19 Courtesy of Ideal Home
Light purples feel clean and fresh. On a paint chip, lavender might seem girly, but in a bright room it’s simply cheery, offering an upbeat foil to dark furniture. These lighter tones have a calming effect, are a nice surprise on ceilings, and can soften large, masculine pieces. Bauer picks some purple pros.
12 of 19 Geoffrey Sokol
Best Soft Purple for a Statement Piece
Purple Dahlia IB102* “A fun way to spruce up a flea-market side chair.”