Hello EHD world, it’s Arlyn, new Editorial Director around here. In a recent blog brainstorm meeting, we were throwing around ideas for design trends we’ve been spotting lately, and the topic of lilac came up. Is it just me, or does it feel like you can’t swipe a thumb up on Instagram or Pinterest without a lilac-heavy photo popping up? It’s EVERYWHERE. As someone who would swiftly classify purple in home decor and fashion (especially in light, pastel-y hues) as a hard sell personally, I did have to concede that even I’ve been wavering. While we knew we wanted to talk about this kinda controversial (at least in our office) color, at first, I didn’t think I had any place assigning this article to myself, but then I thought “no, maybe I’m exactly the right person to talk about this.” If I can be swayed, maybe I need to tell you why and how this non-purple lover has come to rethink her choices.
I admit my hesitance toward purple with no offense to anyone who lives for it, but, look, we all have the colors that we gravitate toward, don’t we? It’s a perfectly lovely color, sure, but I tend to prefer deep, dramatic jewel tones in both my home and wardrobe. That, or basically any shade of blue (this is a prerequisite to working at EHD if you didn’t know…it’s part of the interview process—naming as many shades of blue as you can in 60 seconds flat…I passed the grueling initiation). That is until I got my hands on Anthropologie’s Spring 2018 catalog a few months back which was chockfull of lilac. Flipping through those pages, my opinion of purple turned faster than a clamshell of freshly-bought raspberries (for real though, those go from perfect and pristine to green fuzzy mush balls in the time it takes to walk/drive home…what gives?).
Lilac as a trend isn’t brand-spanking new; in fact, it’s been trending for the better part of 2018, though I’m going to pat the EHD team on the back because they declared it the new blush back in 2016 and they were right. While everyone was hoarding millennial pink everything, these guys were ON IT, seeing past the “now” back then to the “now” well….now, in the future). Though, while it might have been a “thing” two years ago, it’s definitely back in a big way right now. This resurgence might be an answer to people being ready for something a little different than blush, but not quite ready to move on from pastels. It could also be that with Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year pick—Ultraviolet—there’s a renewed interest/buzz in purple-y hues. As a reminder, Ultraviolet is an electric grape-y shade that, well, isn’t the easiest tone to work into a living space. OR, it’s an intersection of both these points.
Anyhow, I had to pause and think for a minute about why I think this color I normally shy away from is so intriguing to me (and maybe some of you who also don’t lean into purple easily) all of a sudden and the answer was pretty clear: it’s about the color palette. It’s not JUST lilac or lavender that I’m responding to, but the mix with warmer hues like terracotta, soft yellows, and peaches, and yes…a touch of the ever-pervasive blush. It’s like a dusky desert sunset that I just want to melt into/live in. It’s peaceful and friendly while still being totally unexpected and chic…and that’s something I can definitely get on board. If speaking all “science” about colors, purple and yellow happen to be across from each other on the color wheel, which means they complement each other, while purple and orange—in this case, a soft, muted version of it—are analogous (read: they are next to or near each other on the color wheel, and these combos usually create serene and comfortable designs that are pleasing to the eye).
And just when I thought I was slowly turning the corner on my feelings for purple, I saw the above kitchen (so good, we had to include it twice), and that was it. I was done. Total convert (at least in terms of admitting to myself that light, hushed purple can work in an adult home and look insanely chic/polished/not fussy). This kitchen, designed by Yun Architecture and Penelope August, is like a cupcake if a cupcake were to one day transform into a dreamy kitchen with the most darling cabinetry/backsplash/range combination.
There’s a certain poshness-meets-IDGAF attitude that comes with going all-in on lilac. I wish I could rewind to 2016 Arlyn, slap the haughty derision for the color from her resting “I hate purple” face, and say “just watch…you’ll see,” whip around and walk back into present-day knowing that she would, in fact, see (and be writing this post).
I admit I haven’t actually crossed the line in the conversion from covet to purchase, but I’m in the process of moving into a new apartment and rethinking a few things. In a move to BOTH service you dear readers in case you’re really loving the lilac look and get my jollies out and live vicariously through the blog (without fully taking the plunge…yet), let’s dive into some rooms that are doing this whole lilac thing RIGHT. Oh, and stay tuned for a Budget Rooms: Lilac Living Room Edition next week to see our EHD take on the trend (even I can admit that what we came up with is good).
But wait, first, I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the fact that this whole lilac-berry-mustard-terracotta palette is hot hot hot not just in interiors, but also in fashion (where often decor trends trickle down from). Where pastel purples like lilac and lavender can often come off a little young or just too frilly for my tastes, the addition of warmer shades really elevates the color and lends a freshness that feels very now without screaming “trendy.”
Okay, sorry for the interruption…time to ogle some rooms:
Remember Lo Bosworth, from Laguna Beach fame? No? Yes? Either way, this is her living room and I think what she and her designer, Justin DiPiero, did with the palette is spot on. While a purple sofa would normally look super girly paired with fluffy Mongolian lambswool accents, the addition of the warmer wood cabinet, sandy camel leather armchair and gray-and-sherbety-orange floor pillows really brings everything down and simultaneously lets the sofa stand alone as a star without it feeling obtrusive.
That mustard-yellow pillow right there…that changes so much in the above room. Without it, the vignette would be perfectly sweet (and really, really shiny with the velvet sofa and chrome table), but just that hit of an unexpected earthy tone takes it from almost cloying to cool. In fact, this space could probably use another dose or three of that yellow (or something more natural) to cut all that glitz, but you see the idea, right?
Remember how I said I was all “meh” about purple until I perused the Anthropologie Spring 2018 catalog and then I was all like “oh wait, maybe…YES”? Well, the three photos above are from Anthro’s new line and this delicious combination of colors seen in the shots is what initially converted me. I’ll go ahead and say what you might be thinking: this blend of terracotta, lilac, sand, and brass feels a little ’80s (when this Southwestern vibe was last in the design zeitgeist). While I can see why you might jump to that conclusion, to me, it feels quite modern with just a touch of ’80s throwback (in a good way).
As is generally a good rule to follow with any trend pool you’re dipping your toes into, I think taking a cue from A Beautiful Mess‘ room above and bringing in lilac through smaller decor items like throw pillows is a great way to test out your feelings. It’s like dating…you don’t really want to commit until you’ve gone through a few things together and are sure you actually like each other in all lights.
I think the above room does a nice job of being mostly neutral and warm (thanks to all those yummy wood tones) with a welcome pop of purple.
Without those purple chairs (which yes, are technically mauve, not lilac, but you get the gist), this living space would feel much more vibrant/warm/heavy(?). I’m jotting down a mental note (and I recommend you do, too) that a muted purple can really take the edge off something with some bite. The sour cream to your spicy taco. (Also, I see you green door…you’re also welcome in this palette.)
So…what do you think? Are you a perpetual purple lover who (naturally) loves this palette trend or a purple skeptic who might be convinced to cave? Or are you still like “nope, sorry, nice try”? Let’s hear it down below in the comments, and don’t forget to check back soon for our lilac living budget room roundup.