Guide offers paint-color options for historic homes with web links, visual examples


Years ago, established companies like Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore began marketing paints that were part of actual historical color palettes. This made it easier for homeowners, architects and design professionals to replicate colors found in everything from the Colonial period through suburban post-war housing. The following directory includes information on where to find some of these collections.

SHERWIN-WILLIAMS – Sherwin-Williams’ “America’s Heritage Palette” takes some of the guesswork out of color combining and offers ideas for Colonials, Victorians, and other traditional styles from the late 19th through early 20th century. For authentic period and style-specific colors, consult Sherwin’s Historic Collection. Authentic exterior paint collections include Classical/Colonial, VictorianArts & Crafts and Suburban Modern.

BENJAMIN MOORE – Benjamin Moore offers authentic period colors in its Historic Paint Collection, although the amount of choices and how they’re presented might be intimidating for the beginner.

REGIONAL HISTORIC COLLECTIONS – Last year, Retro Renovation compiled an exhaustive directory of historic paint collections on its website. Some choices included Duron Paints’ Historic Charleston, Finnaren and Haley’s Historic Philadelphia, Pratt and Lambert’s Historic Williamsburg. The site also includes Pittsburgh Paint’s Fallingwater collection, which has the colors from the Frank Lloyd Wright landmark house in Bear Run, Pa. Visit Retro Renovation to see these collections and more.

BIG BOX STORES – Big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes and Sears also offer special paint collections and smaller niche companies, although sometimes more obscure, offer interesting color options.

Other things to consider

• Paint chips from other companies can be custom mixed at most stores. Just be sure to buy enough paint for your project and remember that the results are not returnable. It’s also critical to know how the mix was created, if you need more paint in the middle of your project.

• Not sure about the style of your house? “A Field Guide to American Houses” by Virginia and Lee McAlester is an excellent resource. It was the first non-required book I bought while in graduate school and I’ve used it many times over the years.

• And last, consider the region where you are painting. The Youngstown-Warren area has many overcast days. Look at colors in all seasons and light conditions: bright sun, winter and twilight. Especially consider cloudy days. I drove around with a paint-chip collection on my dashboard before I chose the exterior color for my 1910 Arts-and-Crafts house.

Editor’s note: Mark C. Peyko has a master’s degree in historic preservation planning from Eastern Michigan University. As president of the Northside Citizens’ Coalition, he led a seven-year effort to divest the non-profit of its historic real estate on the North Side in Youngstown. Part of this effort included a paint program where individuals who purchased houses from the Coalition received exterior paint for their homes.

© 2013 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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