The Baltimore Sun

Baltimoreans are going to love this. One of the important home design trends this fall and winter is the color purple.

Purple has been a mainstay color in fashion for a couple of seasons, and this fall is no exception. Where fashion leads, home design is soon to follow.

We're not talking about a wimpy, pale shade of purple. This is not lilac, periwinkle or lavender - hues that belong in a powder room or a girl's bedroom. This shade is a rich, deep purple that a man would be proud to have on his walls. A Ravens kind of purple.

Or rather kinds of purple. The current deep-toned purples are grown-up shades that anyone can enjoy, with names like aubergine and plum. They work in both traditional and contemporary settings.

"There is a growing interest in purple," says Deborah Zimmer, a color and decorating expert at the Philadelphia-based Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute. "We're on a cusp this fall. We're seeing purple make its way into the home."

It's a color that's been embraced and loved by children, but not necessarily adults.

"But this is not a childish color; it's not a Barney purple," Zimmer says. "Going forward for fall, it's a richer hue that provides sophisticated rooms."

She points out that while many consumers might hesitate to buy a major piece of furniture upholstered in purple, paint is a different story. It provides a relatively cheap and fairly easy way to redecorate a space. This is one reason paint palettes change more quickly than other areas of home design.

Still, you will find a handsome contemporary leather chair in deep amethyst at Crate and Barrel this fall.

The Knowles curved sectional from Broyhill comes in a grape microfiber with a fuchsia accent pillow and a bolster in a grape, fuchsia and orange print.

Ed Tashjian, vice president of marketing for Century Furniture, says that shades of purple "should be used sparingly for maximum impact," but few people would consider Century's new Modern Luxe Club Chair in rich amethyst mohair a sparing use of the color.

There is some difference of opinion about what purple is really the purple du jour. Zimmer says she tends "to see the most current purple heading into blue tones."

On the other hand, the Color Marketing Group in Alexandria, Va., which has been predicting color trends for more than 45 years, says purple is back; but it has "moved from a blue-based lavender to a red-based purple verging on raspberry. The newest version is a true convergence of red and purple - a high-energy, almost fuchsia-like color."

The truth is, you'll see both bluish purples and the reddish purples in home furnishings this fall and winter, as well as just about every hue in between - as long as they are either bright or dark. And as we're seeing more men's spaces, such as entertainment rooms and home offices, cropping up in houses, deep, rich hues are particularly appropriate, Zimmer says.

It's not a bad idea to get a little professional advice if you decide to make a bold statement with purple this fall. When Brian Grimmel - a Ravens fan - moved to California from his home in Harford County, he decided to paint his small combination guest bedroom/TV room a purple that had a lot of blue in it, paired with very bright white trim.

He wasn't happy with the result, so he got some expert advice - from Constance Ramos, the interior designer who is host of HGTV's Color Correction. The episode starring Grimmel's room will be broadcast next month.

Ramos had the room repainted, saturating the walls with a deeper, richer, "shaded" purple with a lot of brown in it. She repainted the room's trim and shelves a natural maple color.

"It lent a sense of calm to the color palette," Ramos says. "It brought the contrast down."

The color works with the wood furniture in the room, including a maple TV cabinet. Ramos also added a purple velour sofa bed.

"Historically, purple is the color of royalty," she says. "It's an unusual color to design with."

Grimmel, a 30-year-old recording engineer, likes the look.

"There are no big walls, so it doesn't overpower you," he says. "It's just a really comfortable room."

Not everyone is bold enough to paint a whole room purple, even if it is the cutting-edge color this fall. Many of us would be more comfortable approaching this season's aubergines and plums the way Margaret Russell, editor-in-chief of Elle Decor, magazine does.

"A little purple goes a long way," she says.

If you're going to paint a room purple, she suggests using the color in a small room, like a foyer or powder room. But, she adds, "it's best used as an accent color" - perhaps as a throw, an area rug or an accent pillow on a neutral couch.

Russell likes a softened purple paired with earthy colors like dark greens. It can look very right because of the "green" movement.

Zimmer loves purple coupled with a sage or fern green. "It makes for a beautiful combination."

At the Paris-based trade show Maison & Objet, the hot pairing was purple and gray, which showed up in accessories from vases to accent pillows.

Intermixing purple with gray, Zimmer says, creates a very soothing space. You could have an accent wall of purple and paint the remaining vertical spaces and ceiling gray.

But Russell also sees the color going in a second direction.

"Purple becomes more alive, more intense with reds and fuchsia," she says.

This taps into another strong trend, the current interest in ethnic brights in both fashion and home textiles, from countries such as China and India.

"Purple is a strong color," says Russell. "It's a cool color and it's a hot color."

decorating with purple

* Use it as a splash of color among neutrals.

* Look for "adult" purples - hues such as aubergine that are shaded with black or brown.

* Purple and gray are a global pairing trend.

* Unless you're a rabid Ravens fan, painting a small room like a foyer or powder room purple might be the wisest use of the color.

* Purple and green together look very current.

* You don't have to spend a lot of money to add purple to a room. Invest in a small area rug, a throw, an accent pillow or a piece of porcelain.

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