Mauve is a natural for bedrooms. The soft, pale purple with pink or blue undertones is almost as neutral as gray, as relaxing as light blue, and as romantic as pink. But the color is very versatile and works on dining room walls, living room carpet or upholstery, bathroom linens and shower curtain, even as an accent wall in an elegant kitchen. The color is a relatively recent addition to the decor pantheon. It was discovered by a chemist in 1856, who was searching for a cure for malaria by playing around with coal tar. Its use in decor belies its less-refined origins.
Mauve that is the color of faded violets is crepuscular and shadowed as a garden at dusk. Pair it with colors in the cool spectrum for a serene space. Mauve carpet and mint walls set the stage for a bedroom sanctuary. Cream-and-lilac striped bedding and a soft spring-green linen or velvet chair transport you or your guests to the hushed tranquility of an orchid house. Mauve and navy are surprisingly compatible as color accents in a gray or white monochromatic living room. Save them for decorative pillows, the upholstery on matching club chairs or fauteuils, or a small tribal rug placed under the coffee table or hung like a tapestry on the wall. Mauve walls in a dining room offset a deeper purple rug, violet, mauve and silver curtains, and a glass-and-chrome modern dining set.
Warm and Welcoming
Pinkish mauve is a bit surprising, a little romantic, and occasionally -- but not always -- girly. Use it with warm colors or creamy neutrals to update a teen's bedroom. She can be silly or sophisticated in a room with pinkish-mauve walls and cream trim, a deeper rose carpet with just a hint of blue in it to add a vague purple cast, and lots of pink and orange tones. A coral velvet or corduroy mattress cover is lighthearted on the daybed. Add coral, mauve, cream and purple giant blooms on beanbag covers or a slip-covered slipper chair, and a couple of Jurassic-size hot pink fabric flowers as tiebacks for mauve, coral and cream curtains. Faded mauve velvet cushions on an antique sofa coordinate seamlessly with the old golden wood frames and parchment-tinted 16th-century map wallpaper on the wall behind the couch. Plenty of gilt touches in a pier glass, coffee table frame and chandelier preserve the sense of period ornament in the opulent living room. Hunt for an oriental carpet with mauve and cream in the design, large enough to cover most of the floor.
Mauve Where It May
One mauve wall in an all-white kitchen adds color without being intrusive. That leaves you more choices for flooring -- terra-cotta or white tile, hardwood or patterned linoleum -- and appliances -- white enamel or brushed stainless. A stretch of mauve carpet runner down a sunny yellow hallway announces a certain uninhibited joie de vivre in a family's decor choices. Run that carpet in cream-and mauve paisley up a stairway for more unexpected but subdued color. Mauve and salmon towels in the bathroom will wake you up in the morning, in a good way. A mauve ceiling over the wide, pillared porch is dreamy when the morning glory vines cover everything in summer -- and compatible with drifts of snow dusting the Adirondack chairs and cold light pouring in-between the pillars on a winter's day.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .