Decorate with Purple – Teens, Queens, and Beyond!

Purple is an undeniably beautiful, rich and yes – a stereotypically feminine color. I am amongst the ranks of moms besieged planet-wide by a teenager that wants a purple bedroom that she will inevitably out-grow before the lilac paint dries on the walls.

But purple also has an illustrious history as a color associated with political station, and even royalty. In the Elizabethan era, only royalty were permitted to wear the color purple! The Phoenicians ferociously maintained a monopoly on the purple dye made from sea shells of Mediterranean Murex. Ten thousand Murex mollusks gave their little lives so that the Roman emperor could don one royal purple Toga! It’s little wonder that every princess wants a purple room.

Purple and pink share the dubious distinction of color most likely to go very wrong – but there are 5 ways to get purple really right:

1)  Some times, the only way out of the box is over the top. Purple plays beautifully in the sand box with other bright colors; yellow (purple’s compliment) Fuchsia, Lime Green, Turquoise, and orange. Royal purples (deep blue-purples) and red-violet tend to work well in this color story. Adding a good dose of white freshens the mix, and keeps these bright colors from behaving like shaken nitroglycerin.


Saturated tones of lilac greys mixed with deep violet and a dose of crystal impress and inspire.



2)      At the complete opposite pole is dominating the space with very deep greyed-purple, and purples in the egg-plant or dioxine violet family. Cobalt blues and indigo can supplement, keeping it monochromatic and sophisticated. Remember, these colors all saturate and pull light out of a space very quickly. To avoid this, add areas of white, or go with it, with the proviso of ample lighting.





3)      The equilibrium plan – use a lot of purple accents, and vary the shades and hues (intensity) – a velvet purple egg chair, or wing-back chair, purple pillows, window panels, lighting sources, or a vivid area rug that includes purples. Even some Flock or Delphinium floral arrangements can do the trick, and use paler but not “pastel” lavenders – these always go wrong. The key is to choose a pale purple that is more complex than violet and white – no one should live in an Easter basket.





Horchow, interior Amanda Nisbet Design



4)    There are an astonishing variety of graphically playful yet sophisticated wall paper patterns in an array of yummy purples. Crisp white moldings bump up the sophistication, as do white Flokati  area rugs, or painted white floors.

5)      The focal wall – this is maybe the hardest way to get it right! Purple can be moody to live with – you really need to get the right color for your individual room, that works with light levels and furnishings. If you go this route, don’t rely on a 3” color chip! Tape the reverse side of 10 chips if need be, and live with in for a few days, in sun, overcast conditions, morning, noon and evening. Fall in love before you take the plunge!

If you are doing a little girl or teen room, avoid cichy kids’ furnishings and wall coverings; create a décor that she can grow with. If you need to include Disney princesses or teen idols, try keeping it minimal – a theme should never be a theme park! A throw, a bulletin board and pillows are painless to replace.

Purple Paint Guide:

Purple walls that dazzle –

Purple Amy Butler Wallpaper:;jsessionid=9947AEA1293F0B58477A5F26F8BF4E35

Chrysanthemum by Graham & Brown:

This image (shown above) is a wall covering used sparingly above a chair rail and represents a fabulous opportunity for you and your daughter or someone you love to bond with design. Go to your local crafts store, load up on hot glue sticks and find or create tasteful florals to apply on your wall! Use a simple foral paper with lilac or purple background and some foliage to give it depth. Keep it above a chair rail – less is definitely more with this sort of project!