5 Grown-Up Purple Interiors

From pale lilac to deep, dark eggplant, give your room design the royal treatment with purple paint colors sure to please the most grown-up and sophisticated of interiors.
By: Susan Kleinman

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Purple Contemporary Kitchen

Purple Contemporary Kitchen With Stainless Dining Table

Purple gives this stainless kitchen warmth and personality. (Photo by Billy Cunningham)

Purple gives this stainless kitchen warmth and personality. (Photo by Billy Cunningham)

Purple has long been a favorite color of tween-to-teen girls. While it's a great paint color for the transition from little girl to grown-up, purple shades are also the perfect choice for many adult spaces, from the bedroom to the kitchen, in city apartments and country homes alike.

"Purple has become more popular in recent years, due to the acceptance of multicultural influences," says Catherine B. Stein, color trend forecaster and president of THE COLOR COUNCIL. "Lavender, pink-violets and magical magentas are all looking especially fresh and sophisticated today."

"I do kitchens in all colors," says designer DD Allen. "White kitchens, while beautiful, can sometimes look sterile. But purple is a nice backdrop for the white and silver of today's appliances."

Allen chose purple for this Chelsea loft, owned by a bachelor in his 40s. "This room is pretty slick and modern," Allen says of the kitchen, which includes stainless appliances, an industrial-looking hydraulic-lift table and a pale gray concrete floor. "The color gave it some necessary warmth and character."

Using purple in the kitchen also allowed Allen to create flow in the apartment, which includes a master bedroom decorated in plums, violet-indigo and navy. And while the choice of color is an unusual one for a kitchen, Allen actually favors soft colors like this lavender (DKC #36) in modern cooking/eating spaces.

Purple Hallway

Purple Hallway With Portrait Painting

This purple hallway ties together the home's silvery gray living room and black bedroom. (Photo by Deborah Jaffe)

This purple hallway ties together the home's silvery gray living room and black bedroom. (Photo by Deborah Jaffe)

Although hallways are often bland spaces, designers Alexandra Loew and Lauren Soloff from The Desk of Lola made this corridor a main attraction by adding plain and patterned purple - a transition between the West Hollywood, Calif., home's silvery gray living room and black bedroom.

Below the hallway's chair rail, the walls are painted ICI's #1656 (Needlepoint) in a flat finish. Above, the designers added Osborne + Little's Dusa wallpaper from the Boheme collection in a mauve on cream (colorway #3). The effect is a little bit retro, a little bit modern - and entirely effective in tying the home's disparate elements together.

"This is a small space," say the designers. "We wanted each room to have its own personality, but we also wanted the home to feel unified." Each space in the home features the dominant purple color, but with splashes of black and silvery gray. Case in point: "The silver in the damask loops back to the living room," say the designers. "The black moments at the end of the hallway preview the bedroom, and the grayish purple carpet is the consistent layer throughout all three rooms."

But the purple here is more than a mere color connector, say the designers; it is truly the centerpiece of the home: "Purple, in all its glory, transformed a rather oppressive hall/storage area into the centerpiece of the home - making it one of the most exciting moments in the house."

And while purple can read childish in some settings, it's entirely grown-up and sophisticated here. "The specific shade we chose was important in creating a more mature purple atmosphere," say the designers. The damask wallpaper and artwork also lend to an overall elegant and sophisticated space.

But for all its sophistication, the hallway is not the slightest bit stuffy, thanks to the unconventional color. "Because of the purple and the patterns, there still remains a touch of playfulness and confection," say the designers.

Purple Bedroom With Chest

Purple Bedroom With Wooden Chest

This purple bedroom complements the ocean year-round. (Photo by Glenn Turner)

This purple bedroom complements the ocean year-round. (Photo by Glenn Turner)

Blue and green beach house bedrooms are traditional, tasteful and timeless. But they're also overdone. When her clients asked interior designer Susan Symonds to suggest a color for the master bedroom of their Block Island, R.I., vacation home, she surprised and delighted them with a light, lovely lilac (Ralph Lauren GH41) — the perfect backdrop for the room's 180-degree ocean view.
"Because this home is used year-round, it needed a luscious color that would complement the ocean year-round, whether it’s a brilliant sunny summer day or a chilly winter weekend," says Symonds. "Purple frames the ocean view and captures the luminescence of the water."

To keep the sweet purple shade looking sophisticated, Symonds avoided any cute or trendy accessories. The coral, pink and green of the accent pillows pop against the lilac background and bring out the joy in the color of the prints.

Symonds says, "You can use purple almost anywhere. My mantra is, 'have no fear of purple!'"

Purple Bedroom With Asian Bed

Purple Bedroom With Asian Wood Canopy Bed

Deep purple and brown make this guest room a cozy space. (Photo by Antoine Bootz)

Deep purple and brown make this guest room a cozy space. (Photo by Antoine Bootz)

If you're uncertain about living with purple 24/7, try it in a guest room, as designer Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz did in this house in Miami Beach, Fla. "Because a guest only stays a few days, they can handle stronger colors," says Noriega-Ortiz, author of Emotional Rooms.

The powerful shade of purple in this guest room is the perfect backdrop for off-white accessories and a large Chinese marriage bed. And although purple is rarely used in Asian interiors, there's no denying that the rich, regal color looks perfect with this exotic piece. The unexpected color, combined with dark wood and furniture, make the room cozy and enveloping. "Purple and brown always look good together," says Noriega-Ortiz. "That combination is always rich and welcoming."

The dark shade looks especially perfect here because the room itself gets very little natural light. "I believe that dark rooms should be dark and light rooms should be light," says Noriega-Ortiz. "Never go against nature."

Yellow Traditional Dining Room

Yellow Traditional Dining Room With Purple Rug

A purple rug works perfectly in this golden yellow dining room.

A purple rug works perfectly in this golden yellow dining room.

Purple-savvy designers also recommend the following combinations:
"I really like mauve, caramel and slate together, and grayish purple works well with golden yellow," says designer DD Allen. "Dark lilac, ice blue, ebony and eggplant combine to create a moody nighttime room for dining, and deep plum with autumn colors helps a large room feel more intimate."

For Old World sophistication try purple with gold, suggests interior designer Susan Symonds, or mix purple with lime green for a high-energy effect. Designer Yvonne Lane pairs gold with a bold purple rug in this dining room (above) for a striking effect.

If you want to keep things purely purple, try mixing various shades: "Purple has such a range and the pairing of two contrasting purples, like lilac and a vibrant violet, can be fun," say Lola. "Purple and black are a great combination; for example, grape color mohair with glossy black lacquer can be very sexy."

Not ready for that much purple power? Purple is also a wonderful accent color, say designers Alexandra Loew and Lauren Soloff from The Desk of Lola: "It is great to use should you want to introduce a floral or botanical element to the decor."

Whether you choose to use a lot of purple or a little, with other colors or on its own, color forecaster Catherine B. Stein, president of THE COLOR COUNCIL, is unequivocal in her endorsement: "Purple reigns!"

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