Decorating with a deep, bold color like plum can be intimidating. But despite its dramatic appearance, this fruit-inspired shade of purple is easier to work with than you might expect, especially once you have an understanding of how to pair it with other colors.
Video of the Day
"Plum is a sophisticated, fearless shade that exudes confidence," says Katherine Thewlis, owner and principal designer of Hausmatter Interiors, an e-design firm. These characteristics give plum a big impact, whether you use a lot or just a little.
Plum is a red-purple shade, closer to the purple end of the spectrum than burgundy and less pink than magenta or fuchsia. Because it contains more red than blue, it's a warm color, which means it pairs harmoniously with neutrals like cream, brown, gold, and bronze.
It's also surprisingly versatile, able to stand out or fade into the background. "Plum is somewhat of a neutral as there are so many colors on the wheel that complement it. It's a hard one to mess up!" says Thewlis. "For styling, plants are a no-brainer against a plum wall. Shades of green are opposite the color wheel, so they will pop!"
The color wheel is a helpful tool to guide you as you style your room. Colors opposite each other are considered complementary, meaning they create just the right contrast to bring out the best in each other. You can also opt for a monochromatic palette using analogous colors, or those that sit beside each other on the color wheel (for plum, that means other shades of purple as well as blue or red). Of course, you can create inspired designs by letting your intuition guide you as well!
"I recently used [plum] in my dining room with blush, which is an analogous color that will create more of a relaxing atmosphere," said Thewlis. "But don't be afraid to play around with fun color pairings when it comes to plum! Neons are unexpected and look amazing next to this earthy red. Lavender and cobalt will balance the warmth and keep the color from looking dated."
Thewlis warns against pairing plum with beige or golden yellows — this combo was trendy in the early 2000s, so it risks looking out of style. But as you'll see below, there are still modern ways to bring these colors together if they speak to you. Read on for more inspiration.
15 Plum Color Combinations
1. Plum and Sage Green
Plum and sage green fall opposite each other on the color wheel, making them a natural pairing. Both are also bold colors that can look soothing and surprisingly neutral. In this space by Tekla Evelina Severin, the plum wall and sage floor almost fade into the background behind a pop of bright yellow.
2. Plum and Cream
Plum doesn't have to be the star of the show to make a big impact. In a neutral-colored setting, introducing a bit of plum adds depth. Despite being a bold color, it doesn't look out of place among soft shades of cream and beige. In this bedroom styled by Hartley Home, patterned fabrics help tie together the color palette.
3. Plum and Green
Plum-colored exposed beams and a natural wood ceiling extend across this whole stunning California midcentury home by Reath Design. They work equally well with the different color schemes of each room — particularly this kitchen and dining nook. The emerald green cabinets, teal stove, gold hardware, and hanging copper pots create a jewel-toned paradise.
4. Plum and White
White works well with most colors, plum included. How and where you combine them will determine the feeling they evoke. An accent of plum adds interest to a mostly white room, while a bit of white — like the marble sink in this bathroom by Wildflower Home — adds brightness to a dark, brooding space.
5. Plum and Tan
Much like wood, natural fibers in shades of tan pair well with plum. This bedroom by Wildflower Home really highlights plum's surprising ability to act as a neutral. Although the plum headboard and woven hats are each only a small part of the decor, they complete an otherwise simple (but beautiful!) design.
6. Plum and Pink
Plum and pink fall next to each other on the color wheel, making them a strong pairing. When light pink is paired with dark plum — as in this dining room by Hausmatter Interiors — the colors create harmonious contrast without one overtaking the other. Using plum in a room with plenty of natural light is one way to avoid the moody, cave-like feel dark colors can sometimes evoke.
7. Plum and Brown
Rich brown brings out the warmth of plum, making the color combo a great match for bedrooms, where coziness is key. In this bedroom by Hausmatter Interiors, both these colors are used as accents to the peachy pink walls and white bed. The brown plaid behind the headboard adds softness where a stark, flat brown might be too harsh.
8. Plum and Wood
Plum pairs effortlessly with natural wood of all shades. Light-colored wood like oak works best for an airy, minimalist look, while dark woods, like cherry and walnut, create a moody ambience. In this bedroom by Rachel Moriarty Interiors, the armoire brings antique detail to a modern vintage design.
9. Plum and Orange
Plum and bright orange are not a color combo for the faint of heart. These two bold shades bring out the drama in each other, as you can see in this study by Mary Patton Design. The hardwood floor and abstract tiger-print rug add further dimension, making this room anything but boring.
10. Plum and Teal
One way to approach plum is to pair it with similarly deep colors, like teal. In this living room by Melanie Jade Design, gold frames add luxe shine and warmth, while white and cream ground the space. Accompanied by these neutral colors, plum and teal accent the room without overpowering it.
11. Plum and Sky Blue
Plum pairs well with many shades of blue. They key for finding the right match is to pay attention to attributes like tone and intensity. In this study designed by Laura Stephens, both the plum paint used for the built-ins and the light blue of the walls and door are soft and dusty, creating a peaceful, inspiring work environment.
12. Plum and Gold
When considering hardware to pair with plum, go for warm metallics like gold and bronze. Because these are basically variations on yellow, they are complementary colors for purple, and they help bring out its warmth. As you can see in this bathroom by Laura Stephens, the combination of gold and plum creates a glam, feminine look.
13. Plum and Black
For a sophisticated, moody ambience, style plum with black and other rich colors, as seen in this chic dining nook by Old Brand New. Choose a lighter shade of plum that contrasts well with black, then add patterned accents — like the wallpaper, throw pillows, artwork, and area rug here — to give the space extra dimension. You'll never be bored in a room like this one.
14. Plum and Cerulean
Plum lends itself well to color blocking, as you can tell from this space by Kingston Lafferty Design. One room appears entirely plum, while the other is painted cerulean. In the threshold, the two bold colors pair beautifully, setting the scene for other bold style choices like the black and white tiled floor and a canary yellow sofa.
15. Plum and Forest Green
Plum and forest green are a stunning combo. Together, they create a royal, fairytale vibe that can add unexpected whimsy to any room. You don't need much to make this happen — see the green window frames and plum curtains in this bedroom by Reath Design for proof that a small dose of plum can make a big impact.
Colors That Go With Plum
As fresh as the fruit it's named for, plum is sure to bring personality to your interior design, whether you choose to go big with purple walls or add just a pop of color through accents like throw pillows or curtains. As you build your color scheme, consider the feeling you'd like to evoke. Depending on its shade and application, plum can create a dramatically moody atmosphere or act almost as a neutral. Here are some of the best colors to pair with this lovely deep purple:
- Sage green
- Sky Blue
- Forest Green