The Color Purple

I was at a color seminar a few weeks ago in Vancouver given by the very knowledgeable and iconic Leatrice Eiseman, ASID, IDSA, FGI, CGM.  Leatrice is the author of seven books on color.  She is a color consultant to many industries and is the executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. I am fortunate to hear her speak every year on the Color Forecast Trends for the coming year.  This year "Purple" is one of the hot color trends for Living Spaces.  Like most things, new trends are slow to take effect on one's psyche.  They trickle in on a subconscious level and then all of a sudden you are seeing that trend everywhere.  So now that Purple was on my radar screen, I was pleasantly surprised to get back to my office and see Elle Decor March issue which had just arrived, and voilà a light purple wall was featured front and center on the cover.  I have also been collecting images of various shades of purple rooms in my file for awhile and I now have enough ammunition to do a post on this amazing color. In doing my research for this post and going through my paint fan decks I found a glaring shortage of this color.  Pantone has selected the color Blue Iris (PANTONE 18-3943) as the 2008 Color of the Year . Lilac, Iris, Mauve, Violet, Lavender, and Heather are all softer versions of the color Purple and are delicate and romantic, while deep or bright purples like Aubergine, Grape, Plum, Eggplant, and Iris are bolder and more dramatic.


This picture could have been used for my post on {The Color Orange}  This soft shade of purple is such a nice compliment for so many colors.  It goes well with orange, yellow, fuchsia, green, blue and taupe.


Above 3 pictures Elle Decor March 2007

Katie Ridder
Photo Katie Ridder

madelineWeinrib area carpet Brooke_Slate

Madeline Weinrib Area Carpet


Jeffery Bilhuber has chosen to upholster two chairs in a deep rich shade of purple. 
I like how the shades of taupe and beige in the room tend to accentuate and enrich the chairs.


This library/office with painted walls in a beautiful shade of lilac is reminiscent of the 50's, but totally is recognizable
as being set 50 years fast forward with the advent of Apple Computer and the Zebra inspired wool area carpet.
photo Elle Decor March 2008

IMG_0001 IMG_0002

There is something so soft and feminine about the feel of the wallpapers that have been used for these lamp shades. 
I can smell lavender. 
photos Elle Decor March 2008

EKB Interiors

A classic English Campaign sofa with arms that drop down to extend the length for sleeping on.
photo EKB Interiors

1st dibs macassar ebony side chairs by jules leleu French circa 1923

A set of very fine Macassar Ebony side chairs for sale on 1st Dibs designed by Jules Leleu French Circa 1923

And now we move on to the deeper shades of purple: Aubergine, Grape, Plum, Eggplant.  So very appealing and dramatic.  In Medieval times Royalty & high officials of the Catholic Church were the only ones able to wear purple because of the expensive and rare dye that was used to make this majestic color.  So for many centuries it was associated with Royalty, Wealth and Majesty......Purple was the favorite color of Egypt's Cleopatra.

antonia hutt
Velvet seems to be the right fabric choice and purple a very fitting color for these chairs in the style of William Haines.
photo Antonia Hutt 


A dramatic use of deep aubergine.
photo S Gambrel

Tom Scheerer

The color of the cushions in this sunroom remind me of the color of a grape popsicle.
photo Tom Scheerer

Hotel Luxe Marrakech

I don't think that any other color would have worked as well for this room.  I would feel like a Queen sleeping here!
Hotel Luxe Marrakech 

There is even a Blog called Purple Area written by a wonderful Blogger located in Malmo Sweden

Tricia Guild Elle Decoration lilac 


Is Purple your favorite color? What is your favorite shade of Purple?

For other posts on Color click here

Patricia Gray writes about 'WHAT'S HOT 'in the world of Interior Design, new and emerging trends, modern design, architecture,
and travel, as well as how your surroundings can influence the world around you.
© Patricia Gray Interior Design Blog, 2009


  1. Growing up my bedroom was purple and yellow. My mom had made for me a quilt with those colors and she had wallpapered one wall with some great overblown flowers. Gaudy as all get out but I loved it!

  2. I am loving this color ~always have. Delighted to see it has been reborn and now being celebrated this spring! Enjoying your blog very much!Found you from Traditions, the store in Erie, PA.

  3. I love your purple post- it's funny because I have never been a huge fan of purple but when you see it in a room mixed with certain other colors it can look stunning. My favorite shades are those of plum and eggplant- the deep shades can look so rich and luxurious- love the purple velvet William Haines chairs!
    Material Girls

  4. Katie Ridder uses lilac/lavender to perfection. I'm slowly growing to like purples more and more.

  5. i love BM's excalibur gray 2118-50... if purple can be masculine, this is the shade.

  6. Anonymous3/3/08

    Hello Patricia,
    Would love to have been in Vancouver for the Color Forecast Trends. I took Leatrice's Color Class on Bainbridge Island last July. Five days of her for seven hours. She's a legend.

    Julie O'Farrell

  7. Anonymous3/3/08

    I'm so HAPPY, that purple is the color for 2008! It is one of my favorites every year. I've moved around a lot, but I use some sort of purple in every home (periwinckle and lilac are my favorite). If you are familiar w/ a paint line called C2, they have a color called Houdini, I have that in my home right now. The Tom Scheerer pic. is what my personal home often looks like (minus all the pillows)

  8. hmmmm...I am not sure how I feel about purple. No plans for it in Peacock Pavilions but perhaps I should reconsider. I seem to be all about blue.

  9. Wow. Great post! I have always thought purple tended to be to royal but these pictures prove wrong. I love the Madeline Weinrib Area Carpet! I also love your blog and will be a regular reader.

  10. This is so lucious! I knew the color purple was going to be the new aqua. I"m doing a lilac bedroom right now for a teenager and there are no fabrics in this color at all. None = well, hardly none. Next year, we'll be flooded with all shades of it, just like aqua is now. Beautiful pictures - I just love this post.

  11. Love this color post ! Purple is a great one. I love Mauve and aubergine ( I don't know the translation in english) . But for now my obsession is YELLOW

  12. Anonymous4/3/08

    Purple in it's raw form is rather prole, harsh, irritating and cringe inducing.

    However, when spotted as Blue Nikko hydrangeas or light Cornflower blues it's positively intoxicating.

  13. Patricia! Magnificent post, magnificent! Domino did an article on deep dark purple recently - but I prefer it in a slightly lighter shade

  14. Purple (moving more towards the red side of the colour wheel) is my absolute favourtie colour and I'm so pleased to see it coming into home fashions. Funny how clothing fashion trends trickle into the home fashion scene. Purple was the 'in' colour this season, if I'm not mistaken...

  15. you hit my hot button with this one ~ purple is indeed my fave color. every single shade, actually. i love to wear it and decorate with it. always have. i suppose you could say it's my signature color. and i'm so excited it's getting so much fabulous attention these days. ;o) thanks for posting so much gorgeous eye candy!

  16. Patricia, I just wanted to say that your color posts have been spectacular! I have been lurking, but had to take a moment to say I have been enjoying every photo. Thanks!

  17. Anonymous5/3/08

    It's fun to see photos of purple but I cannot stand it in my house or on my person. I do, however, love lots of judiciously planted shades of purple in a garden, though.

  18. Patricia,
    A college prof. from NY City spoke of color in a glamorous way, I will never forget her return from a trip to NY, and she spoke of "Aubegine", (aka eggplant) and I have to say, I love deep purple, and then the very palest of purple with a "gray" cast.
    Glamorous and chic post, as always from you.

  19. hi, very nice postings, i like the carpet and do you know the motifs are also called mystical knots, the chinese like it for its neverending knots, bringing neverending goodness, tks for sharing :)

  20. Blecch!! I cannot wrap my head around purple as the new "in" colour...it has always been a colour I deeply disliked!!

    However, you have presented some pretty photos, but the ones that I am drawn to show a more lilac shade. To me, lilac does not equal purple. It is its shyer cousin and is much less "in your face" than purple. I do not believe purple in its true intensity will ever become mainstream, but then what do I know? Dusty rose and peach and mint green enjoyed a huge following back in the late eighties/early nineties...shudder!!!

    As for painting wood architecture (the panelled walls photo) purple, shame on them!! They'll rue the day once this trend has passed as they strip that paint off...It is fun to follow trends in paint colour, but to make a more permanent nod to it can be disastrous!!

    Thanks for such an intriguing post!!

  21. Wonderful examples! Makes me want to redo my entire house just to include those 2 fabulous William Haines tufted purple velvet chairs! Lana

  22. Anonymous6/3/08

    Love this color in the garden too : )

  23. i read about your purple post today in the washington post blog watch so i had to come and take a look.
    ...love the wallpaper lamp shade and all the shades of purple you show...beautiful post... Fay

  24. Anonymous6/3/08

    Nice post...I like these purple colorful pictures....!

  25. Patricia you beat me to a Purple post!! Purple or shades of it are my favorite colors! I LOVE this post. Fortunately, the photos I've been collecting are totally different. My entire living and dining space is painted in a shade of lavender as is my couch :) I really enjoyed this post and reading your comments about purple as well.



  26. Anonymous8/3/08

    Ok, I dub thee Color Queen. You always are so in tune to color, probably because of your last name pre*disposition. (I once knew a carpenter named P. Woodhouse and an electrician named Bill Schock...go figure)
    I need an excellent, light gray for a powder room. We are putting in an antique Chinoiserie chest w/ Cararra marble top (and porcelain undermount sink cut to fit). Joni would be happy to hear a small antique chandelier...and I envision a light gray wall (w/ almost white picture molding) just to keep it fresh. Any Grays, Mrs. Gray????
    Sara L

  27. These pics show the gentle, stylish side of purple. Not overwhelming and garish at all. Really lovely

  28. Love this post. Whenever I assist clients with art selection, purple always seems to be one of the least popular colors (as a component of a painting). However, many artists seem to use it because it does complement so many other colors.

  29. Patricia, what a marvellous post. I never identified within myself a love for purple until I started getting more into decorating and realized that I have a fair number of purple "objets" in my home. I have plum velvet cushions in my living room, an antique purple glass light fixture in the foyer, some purple glass candle holders, several purple/grey items of clothing, various lavendar things, etc. Who knew? I guess it makes sense...blue is my favorite colour and pink a close second...purple really fits right into my preferred palette but somehow i never consider it as a design option. I will now!

    Great, great post!

  30. What a great post on purple! I love your blog and plan on coming back to visit. MaryAnn

  31. Anonymous15/3/08

    An excellent article and an excellent color! Thank you for sharing this! Congratulations for having this featured in the Washington Post! You go girl!!


    I'm shy about using purple except as an accent with flowers. You have opened up my mind!

  32. the top pic is my favorite.
    i am really liking the purples & blacks, very nice together.
    i will never get tired of a pretty velvet chair!

  33. Anonymous18/3/08

    Your web site is very inviting! Projects that you have completed
    are well thought out, creative and just beautiful. I wish you the
    very best.

  34. Growing up I always wanted a purple room, it has always been my favorite color...with teal right behind it!!!

    I love deep purples, and red violets. Beautttttttiful! :)

  35. Beautiful post, Patricia! I am so happy that purple is entering another heyday, as it's one of my favorite colors. Lilac is my favorite shade.

  36. Hi Anne
    Thanks for your comment. I did this post 6 months ago when purple was just entering it’s heyday and now it has infiltrated the mainstream of Interior Design,and
    I am seeing it everywhere. I am glad that we keep reinventing the way we see color.

    Good to hear from you

  37. Love The Colour Purple,
    I recently specified a bespoke purple carpet for the public areas of a luxury apartment complex, on a recent trip to the marketing suite I overheard a potential buyer comment how she loved the Interior design but didn't like the purple carpet. I asked her why she felt this way, slightly taken aback she replied by saying' The Colour purple is a colour we expect to wear ! and with this I smiled and thanked her, knowing that the Colour Purple Carpet was the perfect colour choice, and this was my confirmation.

  38. Anonymous9/4/11

    Does anyone know the color of the room in the s. gambrel photo? It's an aubergine, but I would like to know who makes it.

  39. I love the 4th picture in the gallery. The purple walls are just so subtle and yet it still adds so much to the overall feel of the room. I am currently remodeling parts of our house and I haven’t really thought of using purple until I saw this post. This is very inspiring, thanks!


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