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Is lavender considered light or dark color?

Is lavender considered light or dark color?

Lavender is a light purple shade that lies between violet and lilac on the color wheel. It is considered a light color, but it also has some darker qualities depending on the specific hue and how it is used.

The Origins and Meanings of the Lavender Color

The lavender plant, from which the color gets its name, has been grown for centuries for its beautiful flowers and pleasant fragrance. The word lavender comes from the Old French word lavendre, which in turn is derived from the Latin lavare, meaning “to wash.” This is likely in reference to the use of lavender in scented waters for washing.

Lavender has long been associated with femininity, grace, and elegance. During the Victorian era, the color lavender symbolized refinement, grace, and elegance. Ladies often carried lavender flowers with them or wore the color lavender because it was considered very feminine and delicate. It was seen as a romantic, whimsical color that suggested creativity and imagination.

In interior design, lavender evokes a sense of lightness and softness. It is frequently used in bedrooms, especially for women and children, to create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere. The color is thought to have calming and stress-relieving qualities.

The Properties of the Lavender Color

On the color wheel, lavender is located between purple and pink. It incorporates qualities of both colors. Like purple, lavender is associated with imagination and spirituality. Like pink, it is considered feminine and romantic. Lavender has quite a unique place on the color wheel, which contributes to its complex light and dark qualities.

There are many different shades of lavender, from very light to very dark. On the lighter end, lavender may appear closer to a periwinkle blue, with only a hint of purple. In the mid-range, lavender will look like a soft lilac or mauve. The darker varieties have a more pronounced purple tone.

The hexadecimal code of standard lavender is #E6E6FA. In the RGB color model used for website design and computer screens, the lavender code is R:230 G:230 B:250. Lavender has high amounts of blue, which gives it a light, airy quality.

Light and Dark Varieties of Lavender

Here are some examples of light and dark lavender shades:

Light Lavender Dark Lavender
Baby Lavender – #F9F0EF Royal Lavender – #87629A
Lavender Pink – #FFE1F2 Dark Lavender – #735582
Pale Lavender – #DCD0FF Rich Lavender – #A277AC

The light shades incorporate more white and pink, giving them a soft, delicate appearance. The dark shades use more purple or blue, creating a deeper, richer lavender.

Is Lavender Scientifically a Light or Dark Color?

From a scientific perspective, lavender is considered a light color because of its high light reflectance value (LRV). The LRV is a measurement of how much light is reflected by a color. Pure white has an LRV of 100, while pure black has an LRV of 0.

Standard lavender has an LRV of about 80, meaning it reflects about 80% of light. By comparison, navy blue has an LRV of about 15, reflecting only 15% of light. Light colors scientifically reflect more visible light wavelengths than dark colors.

However, the specific lavender hue can impact whether it appears light or dark. A lavender with a higher amounts of white/pink will have a higher LRV and read as a lighter color. A lavender with more purple will have a lower LRV and appear darker.

LRV Values of Different Lavender Shades

Lavender Shade LRV
Periwinkle Lavender 84
Standard Lavender 80
Royal Lavender 23

Periwinkle lavender has one of the highest LRV values at 84, reflecting the most light. Royal lavender is much darker with an LRV of just 23, absorbing more light wavelengths.

How Lavender is Used in Design and Decor

When using lavender in design, both its lightness and darkness can be highlighted depending on the specific hue and how it is styled.

Light Lavender in Design

The lighter shades of lavender naturally create bright, ethereal spaces full of light and airiness. Using lavender with white enhances its soft, delicate side. Light lavender evokes femininity and romance.

In interior design, light lavender is popular in:

  • Bedrooms – creates a restful atmosphere
  • Bathrooms – spa-like, relaxing vibe
  • Baby nurseries – peaceful, innocent feel
  • Living rooms – light and airy ambiance

Dark Lavender in Design

Darker lavenders can make bold, dramatic statements while still retaining the fundamental qualities of lightness from the lavender base. Deeper lavenders work well with accents of gold or black.

In interior design, dark lavender is popular in:

  • Home offices – stimulating color that enhances focus
  • Dining rooms – creates an elegant, sophisticated mood
  • Entryways – makes a strong first impression
  • Accent walls – adds depth and contrast


Overall, lavender is generally considered a light color, but it has versatile properties that allow it to express both lightness and darkness depending on the specific hue. Paler lavenders read as delicate and feminine. Meanwhile, deeper lavenders take on a moodier, bolder personality.

In terms of technical light reflectance, lavender scientifically reflects a high amount of light, giving it a lighter appearance. However, the exact light reflectance value differs among shades. Lavender’s complex blending of both cool and warm undertones from blue and pink allows designers to highlight its light and dark sides as desired.

The beauty of lavender is its ability to chameleon between soft and demure to rich and regal. It ultimately depends on the context, application, and desired mood whether lavender reads as a light or dark color.