This colour is coming back this autumn in a big way – forget about grey and blue

Warm, grounding, inviting – purple is set to be the biggest colour of the cold season. Paint experts explain why

Living room in Paean Black, Farrow & Ball
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

As autumn is upon us once again, you may be gravitating towards darker, more dramatic colours than in the summer. Soft pastels and brights give way to more muted, deeper shades that pair well with the lower, fainter light of the winter months. 

If you are looking for autumnal paint colour inspiration and are a little tired of the charcoal and navy hues that have been dominant for a few years now, there is one colour that you should explore. Purple. Deeply out of fashion for many years, purple is coming back in a big way this season. Interior design and paint experts explain why – and give their top tips for making this timeless colour look great in your home.  

1. Choose complex shades of purple

Designer and author Abigail Ahern praises this season's 'big return to inky burnt bruised plumy tones, which also gently transition into blacks.' Abigail believes that the appeal of these moody hues is in their 'grounding, comforting and cocooning' qualities. 'Inspired by nature, the colours found in forests and darker skies - this beautiful palette makes us feel incredibly balanced and also restored.'

Note that she isn't talking about the bright purple shades many people will remember from '90s decor. The key is finding a complex shade that has plenty of black, brown, or grey in it. 

Helen Shaw, UK Director at Benjamin Moore, recommends seeking out 'purple with grey undertones which deepens with intensity as the day draws to a close, perfect for creating an ambient feeling in dining or living rooms.' 

Helen also advises against worrying too much about the colour showing up too dark, especially if painting a small room. 'Dark colours cleverly absorb the light of a space, making the division between walls appear blurred. This ‘blurred edges’ effect adds depth and dimension to a room, making the space appear larger, rather than more cramped as some may fear.' A darker purple will almost always look better than an overly bright one.

Walls in Regal, Benjamin Moore

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

2. Pair with metallics 

Another great thing about purple, and the reason for its renewed popularity, is its versatility. Abigail likes purples because 'they pair well with so many colours, neutral tones, pinky tones, burnt oranges, and are amazing when combined with metallics.'

Helen seconds the preference for pairing purple with metallic accents, 'which are best displayed in dark, characterful rooms', and also suggests paring purple 'with dark woods and rich velvets to add further depth and texture.' 

Purple is also the perfect candidate for dark bedroom ideas, in which case you can even get away with multiple shades of the colour: 'to create a contemporary contrast and a sense of calm using aubergine hues, consider layering various tones for a monochromatic scheme in a bedroom', Helen says.

Paean Black, Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

3. Light purple is not off the table

Kitchen paint scheme by Annie Sloan

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

If you're not sure you're ready to embrace dark purple just yet, colour and paint expert Annie Sloan recommends soft purples as 'a great alternative to pastel blues as they bring more warmth than their blue cousins. They can also look exciting and unexpected paired with rich, deep, dark colours.'

Annie explains that 'the resurgence of soft pastel purples can be largely credited to a renaissance in appreciation for grand neoclassical schemes, which often used complex pastel colour palettes with one colour for walls, one colour for covings, one colour on ceilings etc.' It's not pink, and it's not blue, and it just looks so refreshing and calming. Soft purple may well become this year's biggest pastel. Watch this space.

Anna K. Cottrell
Freelance writer

Anna is a professional writer with many years' experience. She has special interests in architecture, photography, and high-end interior design. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Gardeningetc, and many other publications.