Purple was discovered, believe it or not, by the ancient Phoenicians in 4th century BC. They invented a way to extract an intense purple-red dye from a small species of sea snail found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea. However the rich purple dye was so hugely expensive to produce – one gram required 10,000 snails – that silks coloured with purple were only worn by kings, queens and emperors.

Purple also came to represent spirituality, because the ancient rulers who adorned themselves and their home in purple were often thought of as gods, or descendants of gods. So if you’ve ever felt the desire to rule the roost, why not paint your study a dazzling shade of royal purple, or swathe your bedroom in calming shades of indigo? And lucky you – no sea snails required.

Featured colours