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11 Colors That Pair Perfectly with Purple
Introducing the new power color couples.
Though purple might be associated with enduring opulence and royalty, it rarely takes center stage in our spaces. Primary hues like red and blue are often considered power pigments, due to their versatility. Finding colors that match purple—these colors’ plummy offspring—is a trickier proposition. Thanks to a mix of old-school inspiration and forward-thinking design, however, homeowners are ready to look at their quarters through lilac-colored glasses.
Joanne Thomas, head of content of Coloro, shares that purple—from soft lavenders that mimic our devices’ ultraviolet rays to saturated shades that hark back to the ’80s—honors exactly what so many of us have held close since March 2020: the unwavering power of technology and a longing for yesteryear. “Purple is having such a moment as we really saw the sensorial shade reintroduced from our ever merging worlds of IRL and URL,” explains Thomas, who recently teamed up with the agency WGSN to create a digital trend forecasting experience called A Window to the Future of Color.
But despite being the color-equivalent to a modern-day security blanket, purple has the reputation of being a tricky color to decorate with. Purple demands attention, creating the impression that it does not play nicely with others. But in reality? Purple offers ample versatility—you just need to know how to use it. “Consider the mood of your room and the impact you want to create,” Thomas advises. “Deeper, darker purples can allude to a feeling of opulence and would be a perfect fit for secluded and cozy—especially with teals, deep browns, and forest greens.”
To show its full potential, 10 top designers are sharing the best colors to pair with purple. From pared-back duos to eye-catching combinations, one thing’s for sure: Purple deserves to be front and center of your next room makeover.
“Lilac is a great color to mix with purple. It’s in the same family, but a lighter pastel,” explains designer Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. “Pairing this with a medium to dark purple tone makes both colors complement but contrast each other at the same time. I recently paired a purple primary-bedroom paint color with a pretty wallpaper that had lilac in the print. It really made the mood for the space read sophisticated and mature.” Want proof? Look no further than this Upper East Side apartment, designed by Alex Papachristidis, where purple tones rule the roost.
“When using purple, I love pairing it with brass finishes,” Hayslett adds. “The gold tones that come through can really pop off of purple and make it look luxe and glam. Depending on the brass used, you can even mix and match the different brass with lighting, hardware, and accessories. You can’t go wrong, as it’ll elevate the look of the space. The lighting, hardware, and accessories stand out but complement one another, making the space feel like a high-end hotel.” It’s clearly a winning strategy, this time seen in designer Alex Papachristidis’s own New York apartment.
“I prefer purples that are deeply saturated and warmer in tone,” says New York–based Tara McCauley. “Purple looks especially luxurious in a glossy finish, and you can’t go wrong pairing it with black and white. I love the graphic contrast of black and white to a color so evocative of flowers and fruits.” Here, in a small New York City apartment, the designers at Cochineal contrasted bold burgundy cabinets with graphic slabs of black and white marble.
“Purple is my favorite color,” says Rozit Arditi, owner and principal of Arditi Design. “It can be as subtle or as bold a statement as you make it to be. It’s all about how it is used and what it is paired with. Lilac can be paired with lighter blues and whites to create a more soothing, light, and airy feel.” Celebrated textile designer Lisa Corti worked with the natural light in her colorful Milan apartment to create this cheery, lilac-tinted kitchen.
“Purple is my absolute favorite color, especially when it hues with a true blue undertone and casts less berry toned,” designer Kendall Wilkinson shares. “It is passionate, strong, and regal. Purple and the family of colors from aubergine to lavender all work beautifully with gray, and the pairing keeps the purple cool in tone and serves as a perfect complement.” Indeed, purple works as a neutral in this South Florida home designed by Rodney Lawrence, thanks to silvery and gray tones.
“Purple is a tough color,” Kelly Martin admits. “It can so easily go juvenile or Crayola. I think the trick with purple is in the tone and the pairing. When choosing something in the purple tones, I tend to gravitate toward something that sides with burgundy or wine tones. I’d rather it feel rich and a little earthy rather than a brighter purple that can have more pinkish hues.” In a mother-daughter Vancouver pad, PlaidFox amped up the jewel-toned burgundy headboard with orchid-hued cushions.
“Purple is actually one of nature’s elegant neutrals; it has a beautiful spectrum of shades from the palest lavenders to the proudest, regal eggplant and plums,” shares Michael Cox of foley&cox. “Share them with soft shades of sand, sea foam, and creams and counterbalance them against chocolate, moss, and white. It’s best to pair the density of the shade of purple with colors of similar depth, so mauve with alabaster and amethyst with pine, espresso, and crisp linen.” And do think beyond paint colors: This textile in the chic Brooklyn home of Calico wallpaper founders Rachel and Nicholas Cope plays up the room’s soft spectrum of nature-inspired tones.
“Purple is balanced well by neutrals—especially in combination with shades of brown, which add a level of sophistication and diminish the ‘cuteness’ that is sometimes associated with purple,” explains designer Michael Del Piero. Landscape architect Thomas Woltz, for instance, used Benjamin Moore’s sophisticated Wet Concrete in the dining room of his Virginia Victorian—a shade that goes perfectly with the timber trim, floors, and furnishings.
“I love using purple, lilac, and violet because they are unexpected shades that can have a lot of impact in a space,” says Abby Gruman of Abby Leigh Designs. “Use purple and black for an edgy look; purple is the perfect color to liven up neutral tones, and it looks modern and fresh when paired with black finishes and hardware.” Furniture dealers Bruce Glickman and Wilson Henley, for instance, used a backdrop of high-shine gray paint (Benjamin Moore’s Dragon’s Breath) to offset a plumb-colored chair in their Connecticut cottage.
“The best colors that go with purple or aubergine in terms of accent colors are chartreuse and red,” insists Nicole Clapman, principal designer at Studio Schicketanz. “The brightness of these colors against aubergine provides really nice tension in a space but should be used sparingly and in the right manner, rather it be in artwork or fabrics.” Design publicist Christina Juarez nailed the look in her New York home.
“Eggplant is a color for the more daring end user, which we love,” designer Kara Adams says. “There are very few colors that I would not mix with eggplant, but blues and greens are some of my favorites to mix with it.” For inspiration, check out Susan Barrett’s St. Louis arts club (shown here and at top), which is doused in various shades of violet.