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Historic Victorian House Colors

Historic Victorian House Colors If you own an older Victorian home, painting with inspiration from historic Victorian house colors palettes can really amplify the beauty

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Historic Victorian House Colors

If you own an older Victorian home, painting with inspiration from historic Victorian house colors palettes can really amplify the beauty and unique architecture that makes these timeless homes so iconic. Built between the 1860s-1900s, Victorian homes are impressive, with steep roofs, gables, turrets and porches decked out in gingerbread trims. Those trims can get pretty intricate — wooden lacework dentil molding, fancy fascia and tiny little plinths at every joint. 


Victorian-era homeowners wanted to highlight all of these decadent accents to ensure everyone could see just how neat and detailed their homes were. That is where the signature multi-color palettes came into favor, creating the archetypal image of the Victorians we all love today. 


Victorian Color Schemes

Many people associate Victorian house color schemes with the whimsically famous “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco. While those homes are certainly gorgeous, their pastel hues are not quite what people of the Victorian era were using on their homes in the 1800s. Now, this isn’t because they loathed pastels and color. Quite the contrary. People were excited about color because color was hard to come by. Vibrant or unusual colors signified that you were really coming up in the world because you could afford the privilege. The reality was that people couldn’t just hop on over to the paint shop and order up five gallons of Eros Pink. Henry A. Sherwin and Edward P. Williams didn’t even bring ready-mixed paint to the market until 1873. Folks had to work with what they had. 


What they had was saturated browns, yellows, tans, greens and reds — dark colors with pigments that were most easily found in nature. Today’s homeowners would probably find many traditional Victorian house color combinations to be muddy and dark in comparison to shades available now. Homeowners would select a dominant color like red and then use contrasting colors to make the aforementioned trims and accents really stand out. These contrasts were not garish. Victorian house painting usually used a transition color between the contrasting colors to balance them and enhance curb appeal (or whatever passed for a curb back then). 


Interior Colors for Victorian Houses

While the exteriors of a Victorian may have leaned toward shades found in nature, the interiors were not nearly as subtle. The Sherwin-Williams historic Victorian interior color collection features shades that encompass a variety of beautiful pastel teals and pinks, deep reds and greens and even deep golds and yellows. Much like the exteriors, Victorian interiors were trimmed with tall baseboards, crown molding, ceiling medallions, wainscoting, plinths, balustrades, spindles, cornices and coves. These trims were either stained to amplify the beauty of the natural wood or painted to contrast with the dominant wall color. 


sw 0025 rosedust sw 0026 rachel pink sw 0027 aristocrat peach sw 0028 caen stone sw 0029 acanthus sw 2827 colonial revival stone sw 2826 colonial revival green stone sw 0032 needlepoint navy sw 0031 dutch tile blue sw 2828 colonial revival tan sw 2829 classical white sw 2831 classical gold sw 2832 colonial revival gray sw 2865 classical yellow


Painting with Poison: Lead, Arsenic and Other Chemicals in Early Paint Formulas

Advancements in paint technology meant that new colors and paint formulas were being introduced all the time. Unfortunately, many of those paints and paint colors could be extremely toxic. Scheele’s Green, for example, was created using a combination of arsenic, copper and oxygen. The particles in these paints caused sores, respiratory issues and death. Meanwhile, it was applied to nursery wallpaper and slathered on the walls of hospitals. People eventually stopped using it when legislators finally regulated just how much arsenic was safe enough (it was still probably way too much). 


Lead paint has also remained an enduring issue for Victorian homeowners. With homes well over 100 years old, most Victorian homeowners can count on having lead paint somewhere in their homes. Lead paint was not fully banned in the United States until the 1970s, so many Victorian homeowners still face risks when painting or performing home remodeling projects. Many homeowners seek out lead paint mitigation, where a painter certified in lead paint abatement seals the lead paint under a non-toxic paint. This prevents contaminated chips or dust from falling to the floor where they can be eaten by pets and small children. 


Modern Victorian House Colors

The Victorian Painted Lady Houses are just one example of how homeowners have transformed exterior paint color schemes. While some homeowners adhere to tradition by seeking out the authentic color schemes for Victorian houses, others have found inspiration and joy in using the new colors available — with traditional principles. That means contrasts, transitions and three or more colors. Travel around neighborhoods in Old North End or Old Town and you’ll see just how creative people have become with their color schemes. 


Traditional interior color schemes are still popular, but darker colors have fallen out of favor for some homeowners. Victorian homes can have smaller rooms and lower ceilings than modern homes and dark colors tend to shrink those spaces even smaller. Many people choose lighter shades to open up the room and create an airy feel. Some even ditch the dark wood trim that is common in many Victorians in favor of a heavy coat of bright white paint. Traditionalists might gasp in dismay, but it can help open up the house. 


Help for Victorian Homes

Want to paint your little piece of history but don’t know where to begin? AMC Painting has extensive experience with high-detail projects, not to mention lead-certified painters experienced in lead abatement. We can provide you with a complimentary estimate that encompasses all of your needs at a price that just might surprise you. Give us a call today to set up an appointment! 


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