How To Do Purple Rooms Right

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I have to admit, when I heard that Pantone announced that its color of the year was Ultra Violet, I paused. Purple is not the first color that springs to mind when I start designing a room. But, never one to back down from a challenge, I dug deeper. And they’re right! There is a way to do purple rooms right. And they’re pretty great!

A little color theory on purple

Before we get started, let’s cover the basics. On our handy color wheel, purple is a secondary color, made up of equal parts red and blue. The more red you add, the closer you get to magenta. The more blue: violet and indigo.

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And its best buddy across the way is yellow. Yellow? Yup. Yellow. Believe it or not, these colors will be best buddies when you put them together. Think the Lakers. I know, I know, I can’t believe I added that either….but the least you can say is that their logo works.

And last but not least (and this is an important one for the purple rooms I’ll mention in a minute): adding white to purple will get you lilac and friends, while adding black gets plums.

So let’s get started! Let’s talk purple rooms for nurseries, big kids and teens.

Wallpaper design by  Swatch and Repeat . Click photo for more  nurseries

Wallpaper design by Swatch and Repeat. Click photo for more nurseries


Purple can pack a pretty powerful punch, so you need to think carefully about what you want a nursery to “say”. My recommendation is that you go light and airy with a nursery. Lilacs, barely purple whites, maybe a rose thrown in for some depth. If you go too deep and saturated (particularly with a rich color like purple) it can feel a bit claustrophobic. And that’s not where you want this purple room to be! You want calming and ethereal. Check out this purple room I designed with Jen Murck from Swatch and Repeat’s beautiful pattern.

There’s plenty of purple; in fact I’d say it’s the main focus of the room, but there’s lots of light added to keep it from getting weighed down. White crib, lilac heart, breezy curtains. Just right.

Purple rooms for Big Kids

Click for more  kids rooms

Click for more kids rooms

When it comes to bigger kids, you can play around a bit more with vibrancy. It isn’t as essential to have a calming place to sleep. There’s also play to be had!

Here I started with the bedding. PS, I would have LOVED that bedding when I was little. All my favorite colors in one place? Uh, yeah!

The bedding lets you know what other colors will look great as accents. I’ve got the pink, aqua and….oh yeah! See how the yellow in the wallpaper looks amazing with the room? Yup! Yellow and purple buddies in the flesh.

Keep it "young" with some light-hearted wall art (or wallpaper! or both!), plenty of stuffies and some fun organizing (a la pink and purple suitcases).

Purple rooms for teens

For more teen bedroom goodness, click  here  or on the photo

For more teen bedroom goodness, click here or on the photo

Teens? Teens can be a bit moody. Not a news flash, I know. With this in mind (and them wanting nothing to do with little kids) add a bit of drama with the darker side of the purple palette. Plums, magentas, royal purple. A-okay!

Keep it light with breezy fabrics. Ruffles, linens, eyelet. Sweet and romantic. A good counter to anything goth!

Finish it off with a good dollop of white or cream. Delicious!


So there you have it! Perfect purple rooms for nurseries, big kids and teenagers. And you know what? I’d totally love each one of these. So, just to review:

Purple rooms tips:

  • Purple and yellow are best, complementary buddies

  • Purple can swing between red and blue easily to change the hue (magenta—more red, indigo—more blue)

  • Lighten things up for purple with some white for lilac or darken with some black for plum

  • For a nursery keep things light. Purple can be a soft, light accent color even. Take it easy.

  • Big kids: girls just wanna have fun! Play it up with fun colors to match. Think confetti. Or sherbet colors.

  • Teens: for teens, the passion and darkness of purple are perfection. Go deep and moody if you want, but keep it away from getting to goth by adding in some white, lighter purples and humor.

In the end, I guess I’d have to say I agree with Pantone. Ultra Violet might be a bit extreme for me, but purple? Purple I can get on board with.