If ever there was a tricky colour to work with in the home it would be lavender. So subsumed is this hue in negative associations — think musty old ladies, little bags of scent and crimpolene nighties — it is often over-looked, and therefore sadly under-loved. Personally I think this is a terrible shame. Tis not the fault of the hue; it’s all about the exact density of the shade and the application.
Too much pink in lavender, and it becomes sickly, like Parma Violet sweets. Too much blue, and it’s just a sort of watered down purple. And then, even when it’s exactly the right hint of perky Bruise Purple, what it’s sat against can instantly tip it the wrong way again. So herewith my top tips…
- Working lavender with most other colours is a question of matching the shades. By this I mean the degree of grey, pink, yellow or blue tones within the respective colours. If these are the same, then the colours will go. It can make for slightly unusual combinations, but ones that I think are really rather wonderful. Think contemporary retro: lavender with tea rose, sage green or dirty blues.
- It also works well with itself! In other words adjacent shades of slightly lighter, or darker, lavender. In my own home I’ve used Farrow & Ball’s Brassica adjacent to Calluna (which it refers to as “a tranquil lilac”) sat next to Peignoir (a “romantic grey/pink”)!
- Navy! Lavender works particularly well with Navy. Something about the crispness and strictness of it sharpens the lavender, and gives it added edge.
- But if you really have the guts to get edgy, then I’d advocate working it with a sharp mustard yellow too! Something about the contrast and opposition of these two colours, conversely, I feel gels.
- Finally, never forget the context. If you paint a room in lavender then fill it with traditional furniture and chintz, it will inevitably look dated, however keep things streamlined and contemporary and it will feel completely different… just take a look at its use in the hands of fashion designer Peter Pilotto when he decorated a Victorian townhouse in the Brompton Design District for the London Design Festival in 2017 (below). And he consistently uses it as a background hue on his hyper-moderne website too.
My top seven lavender-toned paints…
- ‘Calluna’ by Farrow & Ball (a very cool, blue-toned lavender)
- ‘Lavender Quartz’ from Dulux (a classic, pale lavender)
- ‘Lilla’ from Graham & Brown (A great mid-toned dirty lavender)
- ‘Arquerite’ from The Little Greene Paint Company (a darker, grey-toned lavender even though I know it looks just grey here! I recently updated my Brassica walls to this shade as I wanted a cooler tone. See image below for a, bit blurry, sorry, compare and contrast in-situ!)
- ‘Brassica’ from Farrow & Ball (a dark brooding, yet warm, lavender with a hint of plum/black)
- ‘Cleopatra’s Nose’ by Fired Earth (a similar tone to Brassica above, but brighter and with more red)
- ‘Paloma’ by Annie Sloan (a fresh, pink lavender)
And if you really want to go the whole hog and install some slick and streamlined furniture, then the Danish storage and classic furniture kings, Montana, is your one-stop shop. It’s ‘Violetta 112’ colour is spot-on perfect. Custom-cupboards made easy!
Side note: it’s intriguing to me as regards lavender, that both the scent and the hue possess the same calming properties. This is not typical. Consider vanilla. The aroma allegedly evokes a relaxed, homely feel, and is said to encourage men in particular to feel loved(?!); and yet I’d go so far as to say that any paint shade that could reasonably be dubbed vanilla, would be dull and dated indeed – magnolia territory surely?!
Prefer your colours with a little more warmth? Then see also Lilac: a colour to love or loathe?