Why you need the colour purple

Last updated 05:00 18/12/2012
purple tea cup
SAVE: Maxwell & Williams Sprinkle purple cup and saucer, $5.50 from Briscoes.

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A very long time ago at school (they now call it Year 7 but it will always be Form 1 to me), I received top marks for a poem about growing old. I cannot remember the poem but I recall it was singled out because I coloured the whole page in purple.

Apparently the colour purple is favoured by the elderly and ever since I have noticed that as we grow older, we often favour shades of purple. So as I head towards the dreaded half a century mark, is that why I now love the colour purple?

Purple is certainly very 'in' right now. It has taken over from black as that strange contradiction of being both a base (much as a neutral would be) or an equally successful accent colour. The juxtaposition doesn't end there - purple comprises both the warm colour red and the cool colour blue, and seems to fit effortlessly into both camps, combining the calming and stable aspects of blue with the mystical and passionate feelings of red.

They say it is the colour of good judgement, spirituality, magic and mystery. Certainly it is now a colour being successfully used in interior design. Intriguingly, the colour seems both regal and relaxing for both young and old, and has more descriptions than perhaps any other colour.

In a cultural context, purple was the colour reserved for royalty and religion because the dye was very rare. History shows that it was made from ground-up mollusc shells and was therefore hugely expensive.

As the colour of mourning in Thailand, it appears to be offered a sacred position in the East, and Egypt's Cleopatra proclaimed it was her favourite colour. There is also an urban legend that humans only began to see the colour purple relatively recently in our evolution.

The paler shades of purple such as lilac, heather and lavender, are very calming for the soul. This colour is often used in bedrooms as it is not as feminine as pink but holds a wonderful gentleness.

These gorgeous colours are lovely in bedrooms, whether it be pretty fairies in a young girl's room or floaty sheers and gorgeous silks when we are all 'grown up'.

Stronger and warmer colours such as eggplant and mulberry are truly fabulous in a dining room, study or a living room with a roaring fire. Scrumptious velvets accented with checks and stripes - or even a bold floral - layered in rooms where there's a hint of metallic in the wallpaper is a superb look just now.

But be careful to keep the tones of the purple similar - too many shades of purple together can look a bit murky. It is best to blend with other colours of a similar intensity such as golds through to sunshine yellow, greens, or even neutrals such as a deep grey.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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