Color Trends 2011 / 2012 – Color Me Purple!

Lilac drapes and a purple acrylic coffee table to die for set that purple tone. Design by Pat Healing of HB Home, image from House Beautiful Magazine, photography: Maura McEvoy

House Beautiful Oct 2011. Photograph by Maura McEvoy

Each February the annual color predictions are announced, but the true gauntlet is cast in collusion, by manufacturers and retailers.  Invariably the trades gloms onto 1 or 2 of the color(s) dujour – and the REAL color of 2011 seems to be none other than purple!

Purple is everywhere – decked out in ads from Target to Kraftmaid, plastered across interior layouts in magazines, TV, style blogs, and you name it.

As I am so fond of repeating, there is not much new in the world but purple as a dominating interior color for common living spaces is kind of fresh! Purple was prized by ancient Romans, and extracted with great difficulty and at personal risk from mussels – but it was mainly to dye royal garb, in a tone not unlike the juicy high gloss paint color on the painted door below.

A page Spread from House Beautiful Magazine, photographed by Maura McEvoy

What is most surprising (other than the precedent for less than universal appeal) is that this unlikely hot color trend spans the chasms between design styles – purple is evidenced in Traditional, Bohemian, Eclectic, and Contemporary style spaces alike – I mean, if at any point prior to last year you Googled “Purple Living Rooms” you would come up all but empty-handed. And the room designs are riveting, albeit not for the color shy.

A Room featured in Coastal Living Magazine.

Many might balk at the thought of a purple room not dedicated to a teenage girl, but I am in love with nearly any twist on convention – and I think I’m in good company. In an interview, designer extraordinaire Jamie Drake was once asked, “What do you find ugly?”

His response: “Even things that somebody might say were hideous, I’m intrigued by. Even the most horrible ornate furniture from some store on the Bowery, I think, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to actually take that out of its milieu and make it something completely different.’

A room designed by Jamie Drake – in shades of purple, with irredescent purple / aqua chairs!

Give purple a second look! It looks fabulous with the colors of Fall, like browns and Greys – and to get the best from that focal wall, soft and airy space, or room enveloped in radiant red-violet, here are a few purples that won’t disappoint:


  • If you don’t see what you love, rummage through your silk scarves, blouses, shirts or sweaters and take it to the paint store. It is a 99.9% probability that the garment you love is a Pantone standard color.
  • Using a variety of colors from the same color family always nets a sophisticated result – just don’t forget to sample your venue in your own light, and live with the samples for a couple of days, before you pop that paint lid!
  • If you love pops of color, purple looks fabulous with its great friends, yellows, apple greens, orange, turquoise and red in use with deeper shades of purple.
  • For a neutral application, silver-grays and sepia – chocolate browns hold hands quietly with purple.

Here are a couple of resources that could convert anyone to coloring purple.

Fuschia / Purple Chandelier from europhase

Phipps Aubergine Purple Velvet Pillow by Designers Guild

Areaware Purple Pig

thomaspaul rug by chandra


Rosanna glassware at