We’re about to begin our first summer holiday. School is out for the year, and vacation is on everyone’s mind. When I think of summer, I immediately have visions of relaxing on the porch with a cool drink and a really exciting book. So, in honor of National Historic Preservation month, I thought it would be fun to explore our obsession with painting the ceilings of our porches blue. I’ve been curious about a certain blue used to paint the ceilings ever since my daughter’s friend used it on her porch.
I’ve done a little research, and found some juicy information about this historical color. I learned that Haint Blue is based on spiritual and cultural beliefs – especially in the South Carolina Low Country with the Gullah culture. Haints are restless spirits of the dead who haven’t moved on from the physical world. They definitely aren’t the friendly ghosts you want to have around. The belief is that since Haints cannot cross water, painting your ceiling, shutters, doors, floors, or window trims will discourage them from “crossing” into your house.
The original paints were mixed as milk paint using a lime base and some pigments. The interesting thing is that they used whatever pigment was on hand at the time. So we have no record of an official Haint Blue color. Paint tests on historic houses have given us records, but nothing uniform from house to house. Basically, Haint Blue ranges from blue-green to blue-violet. Historic Preservationists have come up with their own formulas that you can discover using a quick Google search.
As I sit admiring my bouquet of beautiful blue hydrangeas, I’m reminded that the color or shade you choose needs to be one that makes you happy and feels good to you. But the next time you see a historic house, be sure to check out the porch ceiling. You might just find a new shade of Haint Blue that you love!