Anyone who has spent much time in the American South has probably seen (and wondered about) the blue porch ceilings on many of the homes—especially in New Orleans. Understanding where this tradition originated can help homeowners accurately incorporate this touch during historic home preservation and renovation projects.
The Southern tradition of painting porch ceilings a pretty blue has a surprisingly superstitious background. According to folklore, it brought good luck to the home and helped to ward away evil spirits. The soft blue often used on porches even has the ghostly name of “Haint Blue.”
The blue color was also thought to trick wasps, mosquitos, and other insects into thinking the ceiling was the sky, hopefully discouraging them from congregating around seating areas. Some evidence suggests that wasps are actually fooled by this, while others believe the origins of this can be attributed more to the lye used in the original paints. Other homeowners felt that the paint color helped to extend the last light of day, making the porch feel bright even once the sun had begun to set.
Whatever the reasons, this striking trend has left an imprint on Southern porches. When designers are considering incorporating this detail into a historic home preservation, the color should be chosen to coordinate with the rest of the exterior paint. Traditionally, the blues range from a soft powdery tone to richer blue-green shades.
A Rising National Trend
Today, blue porch ceilings have become a popular trend across much of the country. Some people enjoy the soft colors of nature, while others do it because it reminds them of the old houses of their childhoods. Still, many just enjoy the cheerful, unexpected pop of color. Whatever the reason, a pretty blue ceiling is a way to add an extra touch of tradition when undertaking a historic home preservation.
MLM Incorporated is passionate about preserving the heritage and architectural beauty of historic homes in Louisiana. View our historic renovation gallery to see some of our work.