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You know those super by-the-book, overly nice types who preach things like “you shouldn’t use the word hate, it’s a very strong word, and it’s not very nice”? I really hate those people. Just kidding! In fact, I’m kinda-sorta one of those un-hateful types; I just have a pleasantly snarky side which I like to believe gives me an edge. But as a designer, there are some things I have been open about hating, specifically the colors purple and yellow.

Well, my former distaste for the dynamic duo has taken a 180—for the most part. I’m now officially a huge lover of purple, specifically violet, plum and lavender. Yellow is still gonna take some time to win me over, but I’m really trying to work through it. What I recently discovered about purple is that it’s uber-difficult to work with. Sometimes it’s too Austin Powers. It can often be so lilac-y that it screams “baby girl”; most of its hues seem childish or tween-ish. Frankly, there are not many combinations that make purple seem sophisticated. But when used correctly, the purply result can be uh-may-zing.

Last week, I was asked to design a modern living room vignette for the opening of the Italia Furniture showroom in Atlanta. Determined to use something others would most likely have no interest in, my natural choice was to unleash the “One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater” inside me to see if he would be kinda debonaire or just flat-out monstrous. The result? Hmmm, I think it went okay. In fact, I had the vignette photographed to share with y’all some of the purple-tastic finds that are internet-errific. As far as yellow is concerned, I’m gonna give that canary tone a whirl later this week when I knock out a little girl’s room in Fort Lauderdale, then fill you in somewhere, somehow here on HGTV.com. Fingers crossed!

In small doses, purple works magically. It’s gender neutral and can take on a more modern appearance, albeit formal or casual, depending on textures and sheen. Here in the Italia showroom, I set it all against uber-neutral backdrops including dove grey walls, a white Natuzzi sectional, black club chair and glass/dark wood coffee table.
Purple Print Pillow

In January, I was introduced to the magical, hand-made world of seamstress/blogger/writer/supermom Susan Peterson of Freshly Picked. Her violet wool throw pillows were the stars of the space and can be purchased through her website. She also lives in Utah which is always super cool. For real, aside from Utahns, how many people do you know from Utah, really? PS – it may now be my very favorite state, not just because of Susan and her pillows but also because every single place you look is inspiring—kinda magic mixed with the taste of Pinkberry.
Purple Silk Pillow

Hands down, the best high-end fabric out there in purple tones is Philip Gorrivan‘s Grey Gardens line for Highland Court available through Duralee showrooms. It’s got amazing transitional patterns packed with layered tones of purple and grey. If you do not like this, then I think you are not being very nice and should be more open to purple.

When using purples, I’ve found that metallics are essential to pulling them off. Here in the Italia showroom, I used some of their starburst sculpture accessories to break up the violet from the showroom’s artwork and the purpletastic pillowscape of the sofa.

Okay, now it’s your turn. If you hate purple, tell me why. If you’ve used this tricky color successfully, tell me how. Just use the word hate sparingly in the comments below, okay?

13 Responses

  1. Briana@HGTV says:

    I've not been a huge purple fan since grade school (when my bedroom was lilac), but I think this grown-up purple looks really refined and elegant. <3

  2. MizzyD says:

    I love purple, but I REALLY love that artwork behind the couch… feel free to clue us in on the supplier!

  3. [...] I’m a Man Who Now Loves Purple HGTV Design Happens Thu, September 22, 2011 3:30 PM UTC HGTV Design Happens Rate this story Share this story [...]

  4. CplusE says:

    Purple and I have had a rather uncomfortable relationship over the years (if you had grown up in an era where metallic purple and green in psychedelic swirls was considered the height of fashion, you would understand!). For decades I have been happy to lead a purple-free existence. Recently, however, I find that my attitude toward this color is changing to a more positive one. I am even considering bringing purple into my home! Images like these make me think that this is not such a bad idea after all:





    And then something like this has to come along and ruin everything:


    I think I will just pretend that this one never happened — purple and I are back in our happy place now! :D

    • Olivia says:

      OMG, that last one almost killed me… and I love purple. Hilarious!

    • jackie says:

      As uch as I love Zebra, and purple the last clip did me in, wonder if I will ever look at Zebra and purple again, was that deorated for HALLOWEENN?

  5. I love purple. It's always been one of my favorite colors, but it always seems to get a bad reputation. I particularly like the way you have handled the color as a feature color against a neutral backdrop, running a collection of nearby purples through a full value scale. It's an idea I would like to try for myself in an art quilt.

    Isn't the art on the wall a photo of a sea urchin?

    • CplusE says:

      Hello, Dena Crain! I recognize your name — you are the quilter from Kenya with hippos on the lawn! I found your blog a few weeks ago via that delightful photo, but I cannot seem to connect to your blog today. Last week Brian Patrick Flynn posted a comment about giant wall murals — I think your hippo photo would make an excellent wall mural!

      I hope your husband is doing well. From one Dalmatian-lover to another, welcome to the HGTV blog!

  6. Amazing!! After all these years, I must finally be getting famous! ;-)

    Do I know you from a certain nature blog where we talked about Mombasa trains?

    We're both doing well, thanks! Waiting for one Dalmation (her name is Shida–Trouble in Kiswahili) to come on heat so we can have puppies in time for Christmas.

    Otherwise, I'm working too hard. I worked so hard on my blog this morning that I caused it to go down! I must have done something wrong with W3Cache, but I've got my trusty computer pro working on it. He may not get it up today again, though, as it's Sunday. You might check back again tomorrow.

    I'm working on a new quilt and a likely class out of it for Quilt University. Otherwise, I was sorely tempted to reach for my purple silks!!

    Oh, but those zebra stripes were only too much!! And so sad that magenta purple clashed so badly with the outdoor lighting! What a hoot!! ;-)

    Thanks for touching base, CplusE! See you around!!

  7. @AnnPettus says:

    Beautiful – this purple borders on periwinkle, which I love. Just please please don't COMBINE purple and yellow unless you particularly want to gross me out. Also, mauve-y shades of purple – ick! ick! ick!

  8. jacki2j says:

    Love your purple, o too much just enough, I'm still working to get my bedroom to be purple….I do hve some accents
    loved your space. thanks for sharing.

  9. stitmarwhittter says:


  10. google says:

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Thank you for providing
    this info.

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