Admittedly, I was a bit confused when Ultraviolet was announced as Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018. As a matter of fact, if I am being completely honest, it is perhaps my least favorite color in interior design. Before I snubbed my nose at this year’s choice, I decided to keep an open mind and dig a little deeper to see how some of the top interior designers were using this color, if at all.
To my surprise, I found several examples of leading interior designers already incorporating this bold shade into their work, some on a regular basis. To my greater surprise, I found that I even liked (gasp!) some of these spaces decked in purple. I have decided to break down the rooms I found and liked by designer, including four different designers who seem to be ahead of the trend for incorporating this saturated hue. Again, only the rooms that I actually like are included in this post (as some that I found were a bit… much) and I also chose to take the Ultraviolet color loosely, incorporating spaces that utilize that exact shade of purple but also its subtle variations from raspberry to lavender.
Perhaps the boldest of the four designers I have included in this post, Steven Gambrel uses purple in a big way time and time again. Let’s start with the least bold of his spaces just to dip our toes in the water shall we?
Looking for an easy way to integrate Ultraviolet into your space? Look no further than this example of Gambrel’s work, where he simply uses purple frames to add a pop of this majestic color in what could be a drab hallway. I actually think having the artwork floating in the frames was a brilliant move because the purple is even less bold with the rich blue around both the inside and outside of the frame as opposed to a white (or another color) mat that would have definitely made the purple stand out more.
The next option for incorporating this rich shade is a bit bolder, but still fairly understated. The couch is upholstered in a rainbow chevron pattern that has hits of purple throughout. Gambrel then chooses to pull the purple out of the sectional by throwing in a few purple accent pillows. Because of the beautiful wooden built-ins that add warmth and ground the space, the large, neutral coffee table, and the rich jewel tones on the walls and in the accessories, this room can definitely handle the inevitable statement purple makes.
Taken from the same space, these two photos are undoubtedly the boldest and could easily be the poster child for going all-out when using purple in interior design. Because purple is really not a color that agrees to blend in, you may notice that many of the leading designers tend to go really bold when they do choose to use it. Gambrel pulls in purple not only for the wall color but also in the trim, color, upholstery, drapes, mirror, lamp shades, candlesticks, and a vase. Even the mat on the large piece of art is a deep purple if you look close enough. It would be easier to state what is not purple in the room! Again, wood serves as a large factor in grounding this space, with the light wood floors, wood legs on all the furniture, and the rustic wood peeping through between the purple beams. Gambrel’s lesson: when it comes to purple, go big or home.
Commonly known for his bold interiors, it is no surprise to see purple popping up in the design work of Miles Redd.
Less of an ultraviolet and more of a lavender, this bedroom nevertheless has a healthy does of purple. As we saw in Gambrel’s work, the deep blue jewel tone makes another appearance and serves as a beautiful contrast to the rich (albeit subtle) purple. Redd keeps the purple fresh and sophisticated by adding the intricately carved bed with the sweeping canopy draped above, which breaks up a great deal of the purple and adds instant drama and interest. Redd also keeps the purple from feeling too heavy by breaking up the wall color using sconces, an ornately carved mirror and dresser, and a large-scale geometric pattern in the drapes. The warm cream used on the trim work along with the other neutral tones found in the lampshades and rugs keep the space feeling light but grounded.
A bit bolder than the first example by Redd, he continues to use purple in a true ultraviolet shade. The ultraviolet upholstered bed is broken up and given interesting architectural lines with the white piping. Purple hints are bounced around the room in the rug, bedding, wallpapered ceiling, and (perhaps my favorite) the solid vertical line that bridges the purple from the ground to the ceiling. Lots of white space on the walls keeps the from feeling heavy. Though the shade has more of a magenta tone, it is nevertheless in the same general family that creates subtle interest that would have been lost if the same ultraviolet color was used throughout.
Though Katie Ridder uses purple throughout her work, she admittedly uses less of an ultraviolet and more of a raspberry shade. However, I still consider it a variation on Pantone’s Color of the Year, and she does it so well, I just had to include her.
Cue the raspberry accents! I love how the purple tones are carried throughout the seating in this space. One key in keeping this color from feeling too dominant or heavy is Ridder’s use of other saturated colors throughout the space, primarily the peach, olive green, red, and blues.
Another successful use of raspberry, Ridder uses it inside of the drapes that frame the bed as somewhat of a canopy. The pillow on the bed brings in a bit richer shade of purple. What I love is how she takes essentially the same color palette she used in the living room above and makes it look completely fresh here. The same peach, red, and olive tones are found throughout this bedroom but in different proportions and patterns. The wooden walls and natural fiber carpet definitely keep the room warm. Because the raspberry drapes could easily make the room feel top heavy with all the bold color found higher in the space, Ridder’s use of the olive grounds the bed while bringing the peach from the lamp shades down to the ground with the trim around the bed frame. The vintage quilt with reds and greens serves a similar function of bringing weight and boldness to the foot of the bed to balance out the bold raspberry behind the headboard. A fun patterned fabric on the outside of the drapes along with the sconces and upholstered blue headboard break up the large blocks of raspberry.
The purple tile found in this entryway is definitely a wild choice and one that I think could have easily been too heavy or bold if it was not for the subtle movement and color variation in each tile. Ridder demonstrates the use of one tonal family as the basis of a room’s color palette beautifully here, using the truest purple on the floor and then bridging the floor to the red on the sofa with a raspberry upholstered ottoman. An even richer red is found in the mirror above the couch. What I find perhaps the most interesting about the three images above is that they are in Ridder’s own home. What a designer does in their own home says a lot about their true taste and design sensibilities, and Ridder shows us immediately that she is not afraid of embracing purple.
In my books, Angie Hranowsky is the queen of purple. I have never seen a designer use the color so consistently across multiple projects in a way that I like and feel I could live with. Subtle or bold, Hranowsky does it all.
One of the most common ways we have seen purple added to spaces is via simple throw pillows, and Hranowsky does just that in many of her spaces. In the first living space, you can see another purple room peeking through in the back of the house as well as a peek of lavender curtains on the right window. In the second living room, there are subtle hints of the same shade of purple in both the lamp shade and the rug. All these uses of this color keep it from feeling stagnant by bouncing it across the room. Using pattern and repetition in a space is definitely one key in using bolder colors (or any color for that matter).
Using the lessons we learned from previous designers’ work, we see similar techniques in Hranowsky’s work. The wall color is broken up with neutral textiles as well as brighter, bolder colors at the foot of the bed to ground the look. She saves some of the richer purples for the artwork, which are offset by the vibrant green.
Again, we see more bouncing of the purple around the room as well as a geometric pattern to break up the dominant color (similar to the piping and geometric drapes in Miles Redd’s work).
Not quite ready to go full-on purple but like the idea of adding a pop of it to your space? Try bringing in a statement chair upholstered in a purple hue. Even better, follow Hranowsky’s cue and get a pair. This serves to add a bit of formality to the space as groups of two often do and also gives the color a bit more weight and balance.
In this image, not only does Hranowsky successfully use purple as the dominant color in the rug, but she also brings in pottery in the raspberry color we saw in Ridder’s work as well as purple artwork. As if that was not enough, Hranowsky seems to effortlessly style the space with purple tulips and a book with text on the spine that is the exact same color as the rug. Genius!
Broken up by plenty of neutrals, this bedroom is another perfect example of Hranowsky’s mastery of purple. There is just enough repetition of the color around the room to make it unified and visually appealing without it feeling dominated by purple. I also love that the shades are not blackout shades but instead have a privacy lining that allows more light to come through, creating further variation in the purple shade around the room.
Still not convinced you want purple in your space? Hopefully, like I was through my research, you were at least able to come to grips with Ultraviolet as Pantone’s Color of the Year in seeing how four top designers rock the color in their own work. If all else fails, just throw in some purple flowers and call it a day. Are you digging Ultraviolet as Pantone’s Color of the Year or not?