Back to top

Experimenting with Historic Color Schemes


Choosing a color scheme for your historic home can be overwhelming. So many options with evocative names like “Jamestown Blue” and “Rookwood Red”… And painting an entire exterior – or even just the front porch – can be a significant investment. Is there even such a thing as “the right” colors for a specific architectural style or building type or function or setting? These factors all play into what we perceive as appropriate…not to mention personal taste. My response is that selecting the right color scheme is more of an art than a science. 



Of course, you can hire a professional to conduct scientific paint analysis. Their findings can lead to interesting and otherwise unimagined choices. You can consult great references like Century of Color:  Exterior Decoration for American Buildings, 1820-1920 by Roger Moss. You can take the position that old houses have changed color many times in their lives, so any color you personally prefer can be justified in the ongoing evolution of your home. 



I wouldn’t argue against any of these approaches. (Note, however, that paint is not an alternative to proper repair and maintenance. You cannot just “paint over” poor conditions or workmanship. Paint should be used as the final layer that protects all of your good rehab work.)


I would recommend finding ways of visualizing your color scheme before investing tens of thousands of dollars in a quality paint job. Here are some experiments for a porch rehab project (the first phase in a longer-term vision to restore this home’s entire historic exterior). Big thanks to Teal Studio for these color renderings!


It’s still a work in progress, and ultimately we’ll do a physical sample on site. Meanwhile, I’d love to know what YOU think! Drop a DM in Instagram or email me.