True Colors

If these walls could talk, they’d tell me they need some color.

With the exception of a sunny yellow kitchen, the rest of our rooms remain a dingy shade of off-white. Chalk it up to our failure to finish the great popcorn ceiling removal project of 2009 – or my tendency to, ahem, spend more time dreaming than doing when it comes to remodeling.

On the bright side, at least I have plenty of time to settle on colors before we break out the primer – and lately, my interest has veered towards historic paint colors.

Now, I’m not a stickler for historical accuracy – and am not sure I’d like to be bound by strict rules of a historical homeowners association – but honestly, sometimes period paint colors just look and feel right.

Take the soft green 19th Century farmhouse of Stephanie at Our Life on the Hill.

All too often, I think homeowners aren’t sure what to do with their old farmhouses, so they simply paint them white. This is Stephanie’s house before the restoration.


 A white house never goes out of style, but a too stark or neutral color can mask a home’s character and make it look washed out. On the other hand, the Kennebunkport Green and Windham Cream from Benjamin Moore’s Historic Colors Collection, coupled with a pop of burgundy and original clapboard siding (which Stephanie’s husband painstakingly refinished), makes this historic home come alive.

For my own little house, I’m partial to classic arts and crafts shades – especially earth tones like golds and sages. And thanks to Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams (pictured below) and California Paints, I can choose from dozens of original shades.


Don’t have a colonial, Victorian or Craftsman? California Paints 20th CenturyColors of America palette devotes much of its swatches to the bright, cheery postwar colors of the 40s, 50s and 60s – like “Hot Tin Roof” red or “Moon Landing” blue (bonus: you can view a biography on each color at the company’s website).


1940-1960 Mid-Century Modern Colors

Like I said, I don’t feel obligated to coat every wall with classic color (though a pastel art deco bathroom would be fun) but I like being able to pick and choose from historic palettes.

What about all you old house enthusiasts out there? Do you want to restore your home to its original painted glory? Or do you prefer to mix it up with modern tones?



Filed under exteriors, paint, restoration

6 responses to “True Colors

  1. Nadia

    Iam partial to the Ruskin Room Green 🙂

  2. Wow! What a beautiful color and amazing transformation!

    If I had an old house, I’d prefer to find out the original color. If that is not available, I’d probably go for the colors of the era or locality.

  3. I love the color choices that you posted. I can’t get enough of looking at different color combos. Thanks for sharing my house, we are so proud of how it is turning out. 🙂

  4. At our last house, which was a mostly brick 1917 Craftsman with cedar shingles on the 2nd floor, we used Sherwin Williams historic colors for the exterior — a dark reddish brown that almost matched the brick, with bronze-y green and gold trims. It looked wonderful!

    The house we live in now was once — about 20 years ago! — used in a Sherwin Willliams TV commercial, so when we get around to painting it, I guess that’s where we’ll go for paint.

    I’ve been leaning toward white, but it does seem an easy way out!

    Lovely post — Have a Happy 4th — Cass

    • Hi Cass, thanks for stopping by my blog! I finally checked out your house and I’ve got to tell you, I think it will be beautiful no matter what color you choose – it’s just such a classic, what all of us old house people dream about 🙂


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