A periwinkle is either a small bluish-purple flower or a tiny intertidal marine snail. Periwinkle, the color, takes its hue from the flower and is an uncommon choice for interior decor. That means you get points for originality when you incorporate periwinkle into a room -- and even more credit for surrounding it with complementary shades that highlight or play off periwinkle's mysterious allure.

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Periwinkle is purple with a lot of blue in it.

Greening Periwinkle

A sunroom with periwinkle upholstery; iris doors and French door frames; and white walls becomes an indoor garden when a mural of lacy green leaves spills across the walls. Lighter greens and more yellow-greens are split-complementaries of purples, and the two hues coexist in a relaxed contrast. Mint walls in a guest room shimmer behind floor-length periwinkle drapes. Mint, ivory, iris and periwinkle patterns on the bedding integrate with the cool colors. Pale asparagus wainscoting framed by olive baseboards and chair rails gets a jolt of assertive color when you paint the upper walls a rich periwinkle. Green and purple hexagonal floor tiles or plain glazed white penny tiles are interesting enough that you won't need a rug. Keep accessories white to match the porcelain tub, toilet and sink, but mix periwinkle and spring-green towels to "finish" the room.

Pumpkins and Periwinkles

The blue in periwinkle expands your options for playing with classic color complements, because orange is blue's opposite on the color wheel. Soft periwinkle and vivid orange are a dynamic duo -- the difference in intensity is critical to making this work. Pale periwinkle walls, deeper violet velvet upholstery and abstract wall art and area rugs dominated by shapes in red-orange and carrot create a contemporary living room. Mottled periwinkle walls and a light periwinkle linen settee in a sitting room are grounded by an old terra-cotta tile floor -- all the worn and bleached colors resonate with a kind of Old World charm. A tawny oriental carpet with shots of periwinkle and deep purple in a matte periwinkle entry hallway enlivens the purple with vibrant fibers of pumpkin and rust.

Periwinkles and Purples

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and typically don't invigorate an interior. But combining various shades of blue-purples and purple with a hint of red animates the decor. A periwinkle sofa, deep lilac walls and fuchsia throw pillows paint a jewel-tone living room that could go either modern or traditional. In the bedroom, rich lavender walls, iris brocade or velvet upholstery on gilded antique chairs, and periwinkle-and-white drapes and carpet dominate the room, leaving space for a few modest accents -- a teal throw on the bed or a small turquoise nightstand. Periwinkle silk wallpaper and pinkish-lilac chair cushions are all the color you need in an eclectic dining room with a glass-topped table and a violet-raspberry-and-periwinkle tinted crystal chandelier.

Opposites Attract

Yellow is the true complement of violet and blue-violet, so shades of lemon, sunflower, mustard and gold contrast with periwinkle without a clash. Paint the base of the kitchen island periwinkle under a granite or butcher-block top in a dandelion-yellow kitchen. Alternate periwinkle and lemon sheer panels in a mostly white living room, with a periwinkle-and-sunflower chevron rug under the conversation area. Hem periwinkle drapes in the dining room with a deep border of oyster-white, and hang large Fauvist or Rothko-style color paintings in periwinkle, deep blue-violet, buttercup and oyster on the walls.