Design and Decorating

Perfectly Purple Design

Purple 101
There's a reason purple is associated with royalty: In ancient times, the dye was extracted from mollusks and therefore insanely expensive. Now deep versions of the color still signal luxury, while softer takes are famously soothing (think yoga studio). New York City interior designer Jamie Drake, who has used a vast range of purples during his long career, says a powerful purple piece "can add passion to a room" and will really pop when set against a complementary background color, like green. For a pulled-together look, repeat the purple elsewhere in the room. This makes the overall statement thoughtfully eclectic, rather than just eccentric.

Dark Purples
The deepest purples, like aubergines and brooding blue-tinted shades, imply grandeur and strike a serious, formal note. These tones are best used boldly, with commitment. Advises Elizabeth Bauer, New York City interior designer and purple advocate: "To make them work, do something major, like all four walls or a set of built-ins." But go a few tones lighter, and even dark purples will make gathering spaces seem cozy and conversation-friendly.

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