Purple is any of a variety of colors with hue between red and blue. In the RGB color model used in computer and television screens, purples are produced by mixing red and blue light. In the RYB color model historically used by painters, purples are created with a combination of red and blue pigments. In the CMYK color model used in printing, purples are made by combining magenta pigment with either cyan pigment, black pigment, or both.
Purple has long been associated with royalty, originally because Tyrian purple dye, made from the mucus secretion of a species of snail, was extremely expensive in antiquity. Purple was the color worn by Roman magistrates; it became the imperial color worn by the rulers of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire, and later by Roman Catholic bishops. Similarly in Japan, the color is traditionally associated with the emperor and aristocracy.
According to contemporary surveys in Europe and the United States, purple is the color most often associated with rarity, royalty, magic, mystery, and piety. When combined with pink, it is associated with eroticism, femininity, and seduction.
In common English usage, purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue. However, the meaning of the term purple is not well defined. There is confusion about the meaning of the terms purple and violet even among native speakers of English. Many native speakers of English in the United States refer to the blue-dominated spectral color beyond blue as purple, but the same color is referred to as violet by many native English speakers in the United Kingdom. The full range of colors between red and blue is referred to by the term purple in some British authoritative texts, whereas the same range of colors is referred to by the term violet in some other texts. The confusion about the range of meanings of the terms violet and purple is even larger when including other languages and historical texts.Since this Wikipedia page contains contributions from authors from different countries and different native languages, this Wikipedia page is likely to be not consistent in the use of the color terms purple and violet.
In 1464, Pope Paul II decreed that cardinals should no longer wear Tyrian purple, and instead wear scarlet, from kermes and alum, since the dye from Byzantium was no longer available. Bishops and archbishops, of a lower status than cardinals, were assigned the color purple, but not the rich Tyrian purple. They wore cloth dyed first with the less expensive indigo blue, then overlaid with red made from kermes dye.
While purple was worn less frequently by Medieval and Renaissance kings and princes, it was worn by the professors of many of Europe’s new universities. Their robes were modeled after those of the clergy, and they often wore square/violet or purple/violet caps and robes, or black robes with purple/violet trim. Purple/violet robes were particularly worn by students of divinity.
Purple and/or violet also played an important part in the religious paintings of the Renaissance. Angels and the Virgin Mary were often portrayed wearing purple or violet robes.
In the 18th century, purple was still worn on occasion by Catherine the Great and other rulers, by bishops and, in lighter shades, by members of the aristocracy, but rarely by ordinary people, because of its high cost. But in the 19th century, that changed.
In 1856, an eighteen-year-old British chemistry student named William Henry Perkin was trying to make a synthetic quinine. His experiments produced instead the first synthetic aniline dye, a purple shade called mauveine, shortened simply to mauve. It took its name from the mallow flower, which is the same color. The new color quickly became fashionable, particularly after Queen Victoria wore a silk gown dyed with mauveine to the Royal Exhibition of 1862. Prior to Perkin’s discovery, mauve was a color which only the aristocracy and rich could afford to wear. Perkin developed an industrial process, built a factory, and produced the dye by the ton, so almost anyone could wear mauve. It was the first of a series of modern industrial dyes which completely transformed both the chemical industry and fashion.
In the 20th century, purple retained its historic connection with royalty; George VI (1896–1952), wore purple in his official portrait, and it was prominent in every feature of the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, from the invitations to the stage design inside Westminster Abbey. But at the same time, it was becoming associated with social change; with the Women’s Suffrage movement for the right to vote for women in the early decades of the century, with Feminism in the 1970s, and with the psychedelic drug culture of the 1960s.
In the early 20th century, purple, green, and white were the colors of the Women’s Suffrage movement, which fought to win the right to vote for women, finally succeeding with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. Later, in the 1970s, in a tribute to the Suffragettes, it became the color of the women’s liberation movement.
In the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, prisoners who were members of non-conformist religious groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were required to wear a purple triangle.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, it was also associated with counterculture, psychedelics, and musicians like Jimi Hendrix with his 1967 song “Purple Haze”, or the English rock band of Deep Purple which formed in 1968. Later, in the 1980s, it was featured in the song and album Purple Rain (1984) by the American musician Prince.
Purple room ideas are having a moment. With Pantone having recently announced ‘Very Peri’, a bold blue-violet shade, as its color of the year 2022, we’re seeing the color popping up everywhere.
From the deepest aubergine shades and striking royal purples, through to lavender, pinky mauves and soft lilac, purple is a versatile color which can be used to create myriad looks in the home, from bold and beautiful violet dining spaces or a moody dark purple study, to a restful pastel bedroom.
With so many ways to use purple within interior design it’s hard to know where to begin, so we’ve rounded up a selection of sophisticated and stylish ways of decorating with purple to help get you inspired, alongside handy tips from the experts.
Decorating with purple is sometimes overlooked but it can make for versatile and impactful interiors. While purple has gone in and out of fashion over the years, the shade is currently witnessing a resurgence, with interior designers, interior brands and homeowners all rediscovering its potential.
With a spectrum stretching from soft lilac and lavender to royal purple through to rich berry shades and deep eggplant, purple offers huge scope for creating all sorts of looks, from tranquil to edgy and dramatic. Used wall-to-wall it can make a lasting impression, but it also works well as an accent color alongside many other shades.
If you’re thinking of decorating with purple you’re in the right place as we’ve rounded up an array of beautiful purple room ideas to get you inspired alongside some handy tips from the experts.
If you’re looking to bring delicate color and warmth to a cool, north-facing room consider a lilac paint with red undertones. Benjamin Moore’s African Violet would make for a calm and feminine purple bedroom idea – finish the look with rustic neutral accessories and neutral linens.
If you’re looking to recreate cozy living room ideas with a hint of color consider a warm, dark purple. Clove is a new paint shade from Neptune which pairs beautifully with sage green and natural materials like wood and seagrass, as this room proves.
‘Not quite as purple as our Juniper paint, nor as brown as Walnut or Fine Mahogany, Clove is the ultimate dark shade. Deep but not overwhelming, Clove works on all four walls (and even the ceiling) of a snug but is equally effective as an accent on a kitchen island or bath tub,’ says Rebecca Elderfield, product and service creative director at Neptune(opens in new tab).
‘Contrast it with the freshness of Silver Birch, pair it with our Old Rose and Moss shades for subtle balance, or even combine it with stronger hues like Olive and
Mustard for a hint of eccentricity.’
A subdued purple yet with enough color to stamp personality on a space, this velvety Eggplant paint from Sanderson(opens in new tab) makes a beautiful shade for country living room ideas alongside the use of warm wood and an array of nature-inspired fabrics and textured weaves as this scheme proves.
Capturing the beauty of nature, Sanderson’s Elysian fabric, used here on curtains, showcases a beautiful painterly landscape artwork in an array of subtle colors, which really shines when set against plain purple walls.
For a fun and contemporary living room paint idea consider coating the ceiling in a warm lilac and pairing it with a contrasting shade like a rich, deep red as has been done here with a ceiling in Lady Char’s Lilac and walls in Grenache, both from Paper & Paint Library(opens in new tab).
Not only is paint a quick and easy way to make a statement, dividing the wall with bands of color can help to make large living spaces feel cozier and more intimate. Furthermore, painting the ceiling of this Georgian living room in a contrasting, lighter shade draws the eye to the beautiful original plasterwork such as the coving and ceiling rose.
If you love lilac why not be bold and embrace it on the floor and the walls? After all, our homes should be filled with the colors and things we love and make us feel happy.
Not only will using the same color on the walls and floor make a statement, it can help make spaces feel bigger and more unified, too. To keep the look fresh and contemporary choose streamlined furniture and sculpture light fittings. If in doubt, take a look at the color wheel for harmonious color combinations for rooms.
An array of lavender hues make beautiful accent colors for a bedroom decorated in floral prints and in silvers, taupes and neutral shades, as this restful scheme proves. A sinuous chinoiserie-inspired floral wallpaper – for similar try Adam’s Eden at Lewis & Wood – makes an elegant feature wall in this scheme while cushions, throws and a velvet footstool in lilac and mauve hues bring soft hints of color to complete the look.
Purple is a hugely versatile color for using in the home – with a spectrum stretching from the deepest aubergines to soft lilac, purple offers huge scope within interior design.
If you want to bring drama and wow-factor, try decorating in bold shades of ultra-violet and royal purple. Playful and head-turning, these tones would work well in entertaining spaces such as dining rooms and would bring an element of surprise to entryways as well as fun colorful bedroom ideas.
For cozy, relaxing spaces such as living rooms, consider purples with warm undertones that will bring a comforting mood. Alternatively, try delicate lilacs or pastel grey-purples for calming bedrooms and country bathroom ideas.
There are many colors that work well with purple, but it will depend on the pigment of the tone, explains Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene.
‘When selecting a complementary shade for purple, consider the undertones within the shade and opt for neutrals with a pink or lilac undertone for a harmonious finish – a suite of these can be found in the Grey section of our Color Scales colorcard,’ she says.
Bold, royal purples work well within jewel-toned palettes while lilac is a natural partner to silver, grey and neutral tones. However lilac can also work well with contrasting shades of mustard, olive green and even warm reads. For more information on what colors work well together, take a look at the color wheel theory which can help you chose complementary colors for use in interiors.
’Once known as the color of the nineties, lilac is having a bit of a comeback as a natural go-to partner for the ever popular shades of grey. The paler shades of lilac and mauve are surprisingly versatile and when applied correctly, can be undeniably pretty,’ says Sarah Vanrenen of Vanrenen GW Designs.
‘Lilac is a soothing color and can add a touch of sophistication if used with greys. It is a lovely soft color and perhaps more ambiguous than many pinks with the underlying blue tone enabling it to sit well with blues,’ says fabric designer Sarah Hardaker.
Purple pairs wonderfully with many colors on the color wheel. Finding the right complementary colors for purple will depend on the look and atmosphere you are trying to create in a room. For a bold, head-turning scheme try saturated purples with contrasting shades such as yellow.
‘Contrasting and complementary colors are those that sit opposite each other on the color wheel, say red and green or yellow and purple, and using these together makes for much stronger and powerful decorative schemes,’ says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown(opens in new tab).
Alternatively, for a more restful look, choose lilacs and pair them with an array of gentle tonal purples that work in harmony or try soft neutral colors, pale blues and greens.
‘Harmonizing is when we blend similar colors and tones together, in particular using colors that lie next to each other on the color wheel. As the name suggests, this creates harmonious and restful rooms,’ adds Justyna Korczynska.
Once known as the color of the nineties, ‘lilac is having a bit of a comeback as a natural go-to partner for the ever popular shades of grey,’ says interior designer Sarah Vanrenen of Vanrenen GW Designs.(opens in new tab)
‘When considering colors to match with lilac, green is a popular choice which one might think would clash when using stronger shades but paired with paler shades gives a combination very much inspired by nature.’
A versatile shade, purple can be used to achieve an array of living room decorating ideas. For a cozy, cocooning feel try walls in dark purples, alternatively choose lilac for a restful scheme, or to provide a delicate backdrop on which to layer up patterned fabrics, colorful furniture and artworks.
‘The paler shades of lilac and mauve are surprisingly versatile and when applied correctly, can be undeniably pretty as shown in this sitting room,’ says Sarah Vanrenen.
Purple and lilac also work well as accent colors in a neutral living room suggests Saffron Hare of James Hare. ‘I would recommend quite soft tones of grey and fabrics with texture then to add a palette of pinks and lilacs – they look fabulous with grey or yellow, all will work in grey living room schemes and give it warmth. You can also introduce metallic tones.’
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