The Trending Shade of Purple to Use in Your Home This Year
Deemed 2022’s “color of the year” by the Pantone Color Institute, periwinkle is a timeless choice for your decor.
Periwinkle is among the more poetic color names. First used to describe the color in the 1920s, periwinkle refers to Vinca minor, the creeping perennial vine with small, five-petaled flowers that are a distinctive soft shade of violet. (Periwinkle is also the name for a tiny sea snail that is not purple.)
Periwinkle is a cousin to lavender and lilac but with more blue in its undertone and a clarity to its hue. In The Paris Review, Maine-based writer Katy Kelleher describes the hard-to-pin-down nature of periwinkle: “A subset of violet, which is a subset of purple, periwinkle denotes a precise shade that appears somewhat brighter than lavender, bluer than lilac, clearer than mauve, and dimmer than amethyst. But it’s hard to say with precision, because the purples are strange ones, polarizing, and violets are even more so.”
When compared to tonally similar shades of blue, periwinkle has blue’s soothing qualities but also an energetic spark. “I feel like it’s a warm and sort of optimistic color, but it’s also peaceful—and maybe that’s what we need right now?” says Annsley McAleer, the principal of Annsley Interiors in Boston. Michael Cox, principal of Foley and Cox in New York City, agrees. “This color instantly evokes a smile. We love infusing a dynamic shade of periwinkle into an interior to add surprise, fun, and charm.” This combination of calm and optimism might be part of what made the Pantone Color Institute choose a shade of periwinkle as its color of the year for 2022. Here’s how to use this sweet shade of violet in your home.
Weave it into a coastal setting.
Both Cox and McAleer have used this color in coastal homes and say it’s a natural fit for a seaside locale like the coast of Maine. “Periwinkle plus waterfront sunlight seems to be a magical combination,” says Cox. “The clear and bright summer sun illuminates the shade and highlights the color, while the soft afternoon and sunset light evokes the depth and warmth in the undertones.” McAleer agrees, “Periwinkle makes a lot of sense on the coast: it just feels like a very clean continuation of what’s outside.”
It’s not just for kids’ rooms.
The color often calls to mind a child’s bedroom (and it is a great choice for kids’ spaces!), but periwinkle can be subtle and sophisticated, says Rozit Arditi, principal of Arditi Design. The trick to avoiding periwinkle’s looking juvenile is to add multiple layers of color, texture, and pattern to your room scheme. “Layers make periwinkle a lot more interesting,” says McAleer. If a room is just white and periwinkle, it would be pretty, says McAleer, but she cautions it would be a little flat. However, if you were to add additional colors and, say, a lighter wood dress and a natural fiber rug, she says, the additional layers will make it more dynamic.
Play up its playfulness.
Try using periwinkle in an unexpected place. “Periwinkle infuses personality and fun into a space,” says Arditi, who suggests it can be used as a splash of color on a ceiling to draw the eye upward. Foley opted for a periwinkle rug in a mostly all-white room on the coast, for example. You could even paint the inside of a closet in this hue for a joyful hit of color in a utilitarian space.
Wake up a small space.
Mia Jung, director of interiors at Ike Kligerman Barkley, with offices in New York and San Francisco, says periwinkle is especially well-suited to a petite room. “It makes a room like a little jewel box within a house,” she says. Picture periwinkle walls in a party pantry where you display your collection of artifacts from your travels or in a glamorous bar room with a touch of gold or silver leaf.
Pair it with blue.
Ask a Maine-based decorator what color they use most often, and the answer will invariably be shades of blue. Periwinkle, which is a purple-blue hue, can add a surprise to your usual blue-on-blue room—think a bright periwinkle throw pillow or ceramic lamp.
Keep it crisp.
McAleer likes to pair periwinkle with navy and a clean white to make the color read as cool and collected. “[This combination] feels very crisp and sophisticated,” she says. McAleer also notes that you should be conscious of your white elements in a cool scheme, because anything that goes too creamy can look dirty next to periwinkle.
If you’re drawn to warmer color schemes, choose warm neutrals that are more saturated than cream. In her book Living with Color Rebecca Atwood suggests you can balance a purple hue’s richness with “the earthiness of warm neutrals in sand, clay, coffee, taupe, and linen hues.” She continues, “Purple and yellow are complementary colors, so purple will accentuate the yellow.”
Temper periwinkle with neutrals.
When working with an energetic color like periwinkle, Cox likes to pair it with softer, quieter colors, like whites, naturals, and neutrals. “Allow the color to be the star of the stage, and surround it by a calm, supporting cast,” he says.
Use it as a foil to bold colors.
There are also ways to introduce periwinkle into a courageous color palette. Kate Davis of Davis Designs in New York says introducing a soft shade like periwinkle can anchor the vibrancy of bold patterns. “For instance, I recently paired a beautiful Clarence House print with periwinkle tones with a vibrant green Pierre Frey velvet sofa,” she says. Davis, who is known for her bold color combinations, says she tends to lean toward green, orange, and yellows when incorporating periwinkle.
Start with small doses.
If the color feels too bold, Arditi says to incorporate it through accessories and accents. “Even little touches—fabric for pillows or Roman shades—instantly liven a room up, making it friendly and inviting.” Davis suggests you could go even smaller, using periwinkle for accent trim pillows and tassels on drapery.
The Digitally Inspired Color of the Year
Every year since 1999 the Pantone Color Institute has forecast color trends for the coming year. For 2022 the Institute named Very Peri (PANTONE® 17-3938) as its “color of the year.” The vibrant shade of periwinkle is brighter and more saturated than the nature-inspired color we traditionally think of. Pantone chose this bold, bright hue because it believes it is representative of how the colors of our digital worlds may soon infiltrate our physical lives. In the announcement for the color, the Institute said, “With trends in gaming, the expanding popularity of the metaverse, and the rising artistic community in the digital space, Very Peri illustrates the fusion of modern life and how color trends in the digital world are being manifested in the physical world and vice versa.” Pantone’s color picks usually hit the world of fashion before they trickle down to the home industry, so it may be a couple seasons before this bold periwinkle starts popping up at your favorite home brands.