History: Paint Color

Prodded along by several projects underweight, for the next month or so, I will be focusing on the historic East Coast. The first category will consider color in 18c America.

A fantastic experience that has given me years of inspiration has been a trip to one of the oldest Shaker villages located in the North East. Long before the Civil War, Shaker villages sprung up all over the North Eastern U.S., creating closed societies of celibate worshippers, from Maine to Kentucky. The Shaker contributions to society are vast and so deeply ingrained that we take much of them for granted, such as educating the young child, and the now modern throwback to cooperative living.

For those never having the wonderful and enlightening experience of touring one of the remaining Shaker villages, Canterbury is a must. It was founded in 1792 in New Hampshire and remained for 200 years.

From painted furniture to entire buildings, color was not spared. Here are some wonderful examples from Canterbury:

Blazing sunlight yellow

Blazing sunlight yellow


 Yellow juxtaposed with red

Yellow juxtaposed with red


Although worn away after use, the floors of the common house and even sleep chambers was painted this intense yellow. established through the research efforts of Susan Buck.

Faded red

Faded red


These colors reflected the Shaker lifestyle; bold, unabashed, and full of life!

Original intensity of the red pigment on benches

Original intensity of the red pigment on benches


I adore the red in a sea of white walls, and the architectural details are beautiful! (Look at how the top of the inset casing echos the upper edge of grandfather clock top.)

Love this blue!

Love this blue!


The Shakers were the epitome of organization. Everything had its place! For this reason, boxes, dressers and pegs were often used as displays to offer jolts of color.

I show these images in order to open the door to thinking outside the box when it comes to restoring your home. Being mindful of the period is important, and doesn’t stop at the threshold and the structure itself. Now I am not saying that we have to be absolutely unbending in historic preservation! I am a firm believer in making a drafty 18c home warm, cozy, efficient and green. However, I invite my clients to approach a restoration project with an eye to research and soulful creative intent.

When formulating a plan, explore your options.  Oftentimes,  the historic registry can be a wonderful source for period photos and history that can offer glimpses into the past. Quite remarkably, older residents in the area may be able to give still further memories of the home in question or those built at the time.

Before diving into a restoration project, find a knowledgable designer and architect that have experience working on such projects. They will know those contractors who can do everything from floors to the hand milling of missing architectural details that can make all of the difference in building back the character of the home.

On that same note, my new historic paint samples just arrived from Benjamin Moore. I am already specifying them. Although Farrow and Ball is absolutely swoon-worthy, Benjamin Moore offers eco-friendly and more budget conscious options.

Farrow and Ball

Farrow and Ball


India Yellow 66

India Yellow 66


Down Pipe 26

Down Pipe 26


I am obsessing over this one these days:

Pigeon 25

Pigeon 25


Always a tough sell, but I adore black’s timeless appeal.

Mopboard and Gunsmith Gray

Mopboard and Gunsmith Gray


Who says Queen Anne can’t be modern?

Hello Cornwallis!

Hello Cornwallis!


If you’d like to view more colors, go here to get inspired by Benjamin Moore’s new Williamsburg Collection.

To find all kinds of wonderful historic information focused on New England, go here.

So get inspired, find a design partner, and make it a goal to bring your home into full focus this year!

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This entry was published on August 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm. It’s filed under Color, Design, Explore and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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