Color Psychology: Purple

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Purple flower

Photo: Photo:sudarshan vijayaraghavan

Color psychology is a great way to start when you’re choosing colors for spaces in an interior design home improvement project. Color choice, and the combination of colors working together, can create powerful effects that have impact on emotional states, and can even provoke physical responses. In this, color is the designer’s best friend when looking to create connections between spaces, and those who live in them.

In this last episode in the series, I’d like to focus on the color of artistry, royalty, and the spirit – purple. Much like yellow, purple takes the best of cool and hot colors and uses them to full advantage. The calmness and reliability of blue is tempered with the wilder, sexier red.  Purple adds something else, too; a touch of the bohemian, the metaphysical, and the sophisticate all in one shot.

So, what’s the lowdown on this spiritual, artistic, and mysterious color? And how does purple operate as a force to enhance the moods and atmospheres youre looking for?

Moods and effects of purple

Purple is the color of creativity, and off-the-beaten track thinking. It is associated culturally with wealth, and royalty, with an exotic connection.  It denotes active imaginations, deep thoughts, and high ideals.  It’s close cousin violet, which is at the blue end of the purple spectrum, is one of the stalwart colors of the rainbow, and has become synonymous with purple in general. This is perhaps rightly so, as many of the same effects apply, including a contemplative mood that isn’t quite as melancholic as blue might be, but is perhaps more profound.

Because purple is a symbolic color in religions across many cultures and eras, including Christianity (the color of Lent is violet, as is the seventh chakra in the Hindu religion), it is closely associated with otherworldly mindsets and impulses, and the mystery of the spirit. Purple elicits feelings of deep calm, and a sense of meaning to the world.

Popular shades of purple

Purple represents a gray/blue/red/pink spectrum, that evokes cool serenity, thoughtfulness, and quiet artistry. Here are a few select shades of purple that can activate these sorts of effects in your space.

Purple in the living room

Purple lends sophistication and class to the room that often sets the scene for your whole living space. Purple communicates confidence and class through independent expression. It’s the color of contrast too, when you want to hint at a rebellious side, even when you’re coupling purple with chocolate brown, reliable and more conservative blue, or studious brown.

Purple doesn’t exactly break the rules, but it lets it be known that the rules aren’t the whole picture. Whether you choose purple as a dominant shade, or use it to contrast others, purple adds a dash of the daring into your living room.

Purple in the kitchen

Purple is the color of nature in many ways the same as green is. Lilac, heather, violets, and lavender all serve to accent the green fields and forests that we associate with the organic, and with the nourishing. Choosing backsplashes or countertops in purple is perfectly within keeping of that natural vibe that many associate with growth, and health, particularly if you’ve got houseplants adorning your kitchen area.

purple kitchen

Photo: ooh_food

The presence of purple in the kitchen adds a touch of cool, calming color that can help to contrast more common yellow and green kitchen color palettes. Purple can serve as a reminder to us too of the balance between the physical and the spirit, even if it serves as a table cloth, as fabric for kitchen chairs, area rugs, or as sets of dishtowels.

Purple in the bathroom

For creative types who’s best ideas come to them in the shower, or when .. um … seated, purple can be a great addition to a bathroom, where all kinds of deep profundity can occur in our imaginations. In addition to that, purple is well matched with brown or yellow-toned wood cabinetry, which can make purple feel more accessible. The same goes with moss greens or sage, which are often chosen to keep a bathroom, one of the more private areas of your home, feel cozy and comfortable.

For that cooler feeling, purple is often matched with stark white, or off-white. This stimulates your creative brains to run wild with lifechanging ideas. Remember what happened when Archimedes took a bath! I’m betting he added a touch of purple to his bathroom beforehand.

Purple in the bedroom

The design principle of feng-shui advises against too much purple in a bedroom area, just because it is a color with “strong vibrations”. And following the line of creativity, and artful inspiration, the bedroom is a place to wind down one’s brain for the night. But, that doesn’t mean you have to lock purple out. Instead, using hints of purple can invite positive energy, also according to feng-shui principles.

Coupled with a silver-gray, light blue, or pale brown or beige, purple can represent the dreaming mind while you drift off to sleep.

Purple flooring & furnishing options

Purple tones and highlights in natural stone flooring like slate tile, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms, are particularly tasteful and practical options when looking to add subtlety to spaces. Purple porcelain tile floors are also great options  for these areas, as are certain selections in travertine tile which feature silver and gray tones that provide effective contrast if you’ve decided on deeper shades of purple.


Gray or off-white furniture constrasted with purple throw pillows, wall hangings, art, and area rugs can provide this self-same source of contrast, with the security of neutral colors holding bolder, more artistically extroverted purple in balance.

Why decorate with purple?

Purple and violet shows off your artistic side, or at least your appreciation of the fanciful, the imaginative, and the spiritual in a subtle, and tasteful way. In brings in a sense of wildness, wisdom, and wistfulness to offset cooler and more sensible blue, and hotter, fiery red. Purple implies nobility, as well as artistry, and takes the mundane out of the picture.

Purple keeps us dreaming of the next possibility.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our design series on color psychology. Feel free to leave your own thoughts and inspiring uses of color in the comments sections of this post, or any of the other posts in the series.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.