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What is dusty lilac?

What is dusty lilac?

Dusty lilac is a soft, muted shade of light purple with a hint of gray. It gets its name from having a dusty, powdery look to it. Dusty lilac is often described as a blend of light purple and lavender with a dash of gray added in. This creates a pale, soft purple hue that has an understated, vintage vibe.

In the color wheel, dusty lilac is a light, desaturated shade of purple, made by mixing a small amount of gray with light purple. It sits between lavender and lilac on the spectrum, lighter and grayer than true lilac purple. The subtle hint of gray gives dusty lilac a washed out, faded appearance.

Dusty lilac first emerged as a popular interior design color in the 2010s. But its muted, vintage look has roots extending back through the mid 20th century. In the 1960s and 70s, similar pale purple gray tones were popular. Dusty lilac is often considered a modern, updated version of those vintage dusty purples.

Defining Characteristics

So what defines the dusty lilac color? Here are some of its main characteristics:

Lightness – Dusty lilac is a very light shade, usually having a lightness value between 80-90% on the color scale. This makes it quite pale and soft.

Purple Hue – It has enough purple pigment to be identifiable as a subtle purple rather than a true gray. But the purple tone is understated.

Gray Undertones – A touch of gray is added to soften the purple and give it a weathered, vintage look. The gray is subtle though.

Low Saturation – Dusty lilac has very low color saturation. This desaturation helps mute the shade and give it a faded, gently weathered appearance.

Powdery Appearance – The soft purple and gray mix results in a powdery, dusty look, hence the name dusty lilac. It lacks the richness of full saturated purple.

Lightness 80-90%
Hue Light purple
Tones With gray undertones
Saturation Very low
Appearance Powdery, dusty

So in summary, dusty lilac is a very pale, desaturated shade of light purple with subtle gray mixing in to soften the tone and give it a weathered, vintage look.

Shades of Dusty Lilac

There is some variation in dusty lilac shades depending on the specific ratio of purple to gray used. Here are some of the most common sub-shades:

Pale Dusty Lilac – Has a higher ratio of gray to purple, creating a very pale, softly weathered hue. Almost a pale lavender gray.

Light Dusty Lilac – Moving closer to a true light purple, with a little less gray softening the tone. A common dusty lilac shade.

Medium Dusty Lilac – Balances light purple and soft gray equally, right in the core dusty lilac tone.

Mauve Dusty Lilac – Has more purple than gray, with hints of mauve/pink undertones coming through.

Dark Dusty Lilac – The least common shade, this adds more purple to create a darker, gray-toned lilac.

Shade Description
Pale Dusty Lilac Very light gray-lavender hue
Light Dusty Lilac Light purple with subtle gray softening
Medium Dusty Lilac Balanced blend of light purple and gray
Mauve Dusty Lilac Has hints of mauve/pink tones
Dark Dusty Lilac Deeper purple with gray undertones

So within the dusty lilac umbrella, shades can range from a pale whisper of color to deeper gray-purple hues. Most sit in the light to medium range, soft and gently weathered in appearance.

Decorating With Dusty Lilac

The subtle vintage vibe of dusty lilac makes it a popular choice for interior design and home decor. Here are some top ways to decorate with this color:

Walls – Dusty lilac is an excellent color for painting walls, especially in bedrooms, sitting rooms, and other calm spaces. The soft hue creates a relaxing atmosphere.

Furniture – Upholstering chairs, sofas, headboards and benches in dusty lilac fabric lends a romantic, feminine touch to a room.

Accents – Use dusty lilac in accents like pillows, throws, area rugs and curtains to gently enhance the color scheme.

Flowers – Arrange bunches of lavender, lilacs, or pink peonies in vases to complement the hue.

Tableware – Plates, mugs, vases and other tabletop items look charming in the vintage-inspired color.

Stationery – Adorn journals, notecards, scrapbooks and invites with dusty lilac details.

Category Examples
Walls Bedrooms, living rooms, etc.
Furniture Chairs, sofas, headboards
Accents Pillows, rugs, curtains
Flowers Lavender, lilacs, peonies
Tableware Plates, mugs, vases
Stationery Journals, notecards, scrapbooks

Dusty lilac can work in rooms with a variety of styles, adding a dreamy touch to both modern minimalist and cozy cottage decor. Keep accessories in this muted shade to prevent overwhelming a space.

Pairing Dusty Lilac with Other Colors

The muted, vintage vibe of dusty lilac makes it very versatile for pairing with other colors to create beautiful, tranquil color palettes.

Other Soothing Colors – Dusty lilac works seamlessly with other soft neutrals and pastels like cream, pale gray, powder blue, and muted peach.

Crisp White – The clean brightness of white looks fresh against dusty lilac. It helps add definition and keeps the palette feeling light.

Warm Metallics – Bronze, aged brass, and other warm metallic accents complement dusty lilac’s vintage charm.

Moss Green – Earthy shades of sage and moss green provide an organic contrast and pleasing color combination.

Pale Yellow – Soft buttery yellows make dusty lilac feel brighter and more cheerful. Pale lemon chiffon is a perfect pair.

Color Palette Examples
Other pastels Cream, pale gray, powder blue
Crisp white Adds definition and brightness
Warm metallics Bronze, aged brass
Moss green Sage, olive green
Pale yellow Buttery yellow, lemon chiffon

Avoid pairing dusty lilac with cool blues, stark blacks, or jewel-toned colors. Stick with a muted, softly weathered palette.

Textiles in Dusty Lilac

The powdery texture of dusty lilac makes it well-suited for textiles. It brings a romantic, vintage tone when used in fabric or yarn form. Some textile options include:

Linen – Dusty lilac linen has a casual, laidback look perfect for bedding, curtains, upholstery and casual wear.

Velvet – Rich dusty lilac velvet lends an elegant, luxurious feel. Use it for formal occasion wear.

Lace – Delicate dusty lilac lace provides a fanciful, feminine twist. Use it for overlays and trims.

Cashmere – Luxuriously soft dusty lilac cashmere creates sweaters, scarves and blankets with a relaxed refinement.

Tweed – Incorporating dusty lilac tweed fabric into jackets, skirts or accessories gives off vintage flair.

Yarn – Knit or crochet with yarn in dusty lilac hues to create cozy sweaters, scarves, and accessories.

Textile Characteristics
Linen Casual, laidback
Velvet Elegant and luxurious
Lace Delicate and feminine
Cashmere Soft and refined
Tweed Vintage flair
Yarn Cozy knits

Dusty lilac textiles pair beautifully with cream lace, warm metallic accents, and faceted glass buttons for an ethereal, romantic look.

Makeup Shades

In makeup, dusty lilac brings out a fresh, youthful glow when used in moderation. Makeup options include:

Eyeshadow – A touch of dusty lilac shadow on the lids adds a romantic accent. Keep it sheer for daytime.

Blush – Swirl a brush in dusty lilac blush and apply lightly to the apples of the cheeks for a delicate flush.

Lip tint – A soft, dusty lilac lip stain or gloss tints the lips with just a hint of color.

Nail polish – Paint nails in a dusty lilac hue for an understated pop of color.

Eye liner – Use a dusty lilac eyeliner to subtly define eyes. Softer than black or brown liner.

Product Use
Eyeshadow Lids
Blush Cheeks
Lip tint Lips
Nail polish Nails
Eye liner Eyes

When wearing dusty lilac makeup, aim for a light, fresh-faced look. Avoid using too heavily. Coordinate eye and cheek colors for a put-together vibe.


Dusty lilac is a vintage-inspired shade that oozes sweet charm. The blend of light purple and soft gray creates a powdery, ethereal hue that feels romantic, feminine and delicately faded. Use this adaptable tone to decorate your home, punch up textiles, or enhance your natural beauty. Dusty lilac brings a whisper of dreamy color to any space or look.