“Say you saw it in Steuben Real Estate Guide” • January 2012 • Page 3
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ome furnishing catalogs anddecor magazines tell us thatpurple is all the rage, and topdesigners have been fillingclients’homes with everything frompurple wallpaper and furniture to purplelampshades and throw pillows.It can be a tough sell, says BetsyBurnham, founder of Burnham Design inLosAngeles, who has used purplefrequently this year. Clients sometimesblanch when they hear “purple,”envisioning garish, overpowering hues,she says.“Sometimes it takes putting the colorup on the wall or buying a couple of yardsof the fabric to convince them,” she says.They’re usually thrilled with the elegantresults.“I’ve done walls in a grey-purple andit’s super-sophisticated,” Burnham says.It is true that purple has to be usedwisely. “Too much purple can seemAustin Powers-ish or way too juvenile,”says Brian Patrick Flynn, founder of decordemon.com.So how can you choose the rightshades of purple and use them well?Burnham, Flynn and Sandra Espinet (whodecorated actressAlison Sweeney’s homeentirely in purple for an HGTV’s“Celebrity Holiday Homes” special thismonth) offer their ideas and advice:
No need to invest much if you’re notsure whether purple is for you. Buyseveral purple candles for your diningroom or a purple throw blanket to drapeover your sofa.Espinet suggests bringing in somepurple items like these during the holidayseason, and then keeping them aroundafter holiday decorations have been putaway.Another low-commitment approach isto bring in a lamp with a lavenderlampshade to add a subtle purple hue to aroom.
Choose shades wisely
“My rule of thumb is to use vibrant orbold purples strictly as accents, whereasmuted \purples or ones with lots of grayundertones can be used more generously,”Flynn says. “If you get your purples right,they can be warm and cool at the sametime. My favorite shade is violet.”Soft lilacs and grayish lavenders can beeasier to work with, Burnham agrees. Sheadvises homeowners to stay with verypale purples or dark, regal shades.Save the boldest shades of purple forone important piece, she says, such as a“beautiful vintage chair in your hallway.Or do just the seats of your dining chairsin a great purple fabric.”
Not just a girl thing
All three designers point out thatpurple isn’t just for young girls’bedrooms.“Purples can take on masculine orfeminine styles, depending on how they’reused,” Flynn says. “Plummy tones areusually my go-to shade for women. Blue-violets or dark purples are my first choicefor men.A good number of my clients arebachelors. Tired of seeing the same oldthing again and again, I often use purplesinstead of blues. There’s a sense of regality to it.”Pale lilac sheets with a white downcomforter can look softly feminine. Butpair those same sheets with a chocolatebrown bedspread and the look is perfectfor a bachelor’s apartment.
Purple in patterns
A solid purple wall can be overpow-ering, but Flynn points out that wallpaperin shades of purple can have a muchdifferent impact.“Sometimes I will go ahead and do anentire room in a dark violet, but withfabric or textured wall covering, notpaint,” he says. “Purple textiles seem toimmediately evoke a sense of luxury,whereas purple paints can sometimes justbe too much saturation with no texture tohelp warm it up and give it depth.”Burnham says there’s a growingselection of beautiful wallpaper and textilepatterns that feature shades of purple.Proper pairingsIn the ’80s, purple was mixed withother strong colors such as teal and gold,Espinet says. Today, you’re more likely tosee it combined with neutral shades, or seeseveral shades of purple used together.Flynn often pairs purple with grays andsilvers for a modern feel.”I often usebrown-grays with plum to create a moody,earthy feeling,” he says. “For modernhomes, I love to play up charcoal, gray-beige and lavender.”Burnham likes to balance lavender withtaupe, and says it looks great withArmygreen and, in some cases, Navy blue.Get metalsAn excellent way to use purpleseffectively is to pair them with metallicaccents. Flynn often pairs shades of purplewith silver or bronze.Purple also works well with gold, hesays, but it’s important to choose the rightshades: “Sometimes a yellow gold that’stoo yellow can really clash with thepurple, whereas brown golds seem towork effortlessly.”Where to put it?“Purple is a relaxing color,” saysEspinet, and can work well in just aboutany room — especially bedrooms andliving rooms. But she does suggestlimiting its use in the kitchen: Food, shesays, just doesn’t look good with purple.With that one warning in mind, Espinetencourages people to have fun and experi-ment with purple. Every home is different,she says, and purple can bring glamour toeach in a different way.
Use purple wisely and it can be regal, feminine, warm and cool
How do you use purple?