Wednesday, July 22, 2009

blue porch ceilings for good luck? it's haint blue!

My version of "Haint Blue" is Behr's Aqua Breeze. It looks great with the beigey "Skimming Stone" by Farrow & Ball and my version of Cotswold blue, "Impressionist" by Ralph Lauren.

I have painted a few ceilings in children's rooms sky blue with some fluffy white clouds. It seemed a cheerful, breezy thing to do. But, I painted the beadboard ceiling of my front porch blue for an entirely different reason.

There are many rumors (urban legends even) about painting a porch ceiling, or the trim on your house, blue. Some say that it keeps bugs away. It sort of makes sense. Especially for wasps who like to build mud-dauber nests on your ceilings. If they mistake your ceiling for sky, they won't nest there. I will let you know if our wasp problem lessens.

Some say that the airy, breezy feeling will make you feel like your daylight hours last longer in the fall.

I am more intrigued by the "ghost story" angle. It is said that painting your front porch ceiling blue is good luck... and even more, will keep evil spirits away. In South Carolina, the people call this "haint blue." A haint is an evil spirit. Legend has it that evil spirits cannot cross water, so if you paint your house trim and / or porch ceiling blue, the spirits will be confused and unable to enter your home.

The Gullah people, a mix of enslaved African tribes in Carolina Low Country, are credited for borrowing the practice from African slaves. They believed the color blue had magical powers. Their practices included painting doors, windows and trim blue, and often dyed their clothes using indigo leaves.

Because the Gullah's simply used whatever pigments they could get, there is no official "haint blue." It would vary. That said, some have set out to market on haint blue a bit, and have created their own formulations of haint blue. The Charleston Historic Foundation has licensed two versions of "Gullah Blue," which are a deep torquoise. The Savannah Historical Society has two versions of its own, Haint Blue Dark and Haint Blue Light, which are medium teal and light mint-blue, respectively.
For ideas on different varieties of haint blue, start googling "Haint Blue," "Gullah Blue," "Dirt Dauber Blue" and "Dutch Boy Blue."

In my opinion, based on my research in the field of historic preservation, one shouldn't worry so much about an "official" shade of haint blue, but what looks best with the rest of the house. A purplish blue or teal blue might not be so complimentary with the body color of the house. I simply took the trim & door color I had chosen (Impressionist by Ralph Lauren), lined it up with Behr paint chips until I found a very close match. Then I chose a color 2 times lighter so that there would be a noticable difference. I ended up with "Aqua Breeze" by Behr for the ceiling. It looks different from all angles, so I am quite happy with it.

My blue, "Aqua Breeze", against "Skimming Stone." I felt it was important to make sure all the colors coordinated, and didn't focus on the "haint blue" as an individual color.

The blue isn't a BLAZING blue. In certain light, it reads very soft. When I include the deep black trim on the front door, it looks quite pale.

So there you have it. I received a comment yesterday, signed only as "R", asking what blue I used. I think that is more than you ever wanted to know about my haint blue! :)


Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

I love a pretty blue porch ceiling, and had heard the 'keeps the wasps away' and 'keeps the porch cooler' angles, but not that it repels haints! How fun! Thanks for all the interesting info.

R said...

I actually went to "Haint Blue" as you suggested yesterday.
I live in the northwest and have never seen a blue porch ceiling here.
When people ask why i painted my porch ceiling blue when my house is taupe/black/white i'll tell them the haint blue story and let them think what they may!
Thanks for the info!

Cheri Peoples said...

Love the blue ceiling.

Just a hint on wasps-Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol in a squirt bottle-you don't want one that mists but sprays(like an old windex bottle). If you spray the wasp, the alcohol-temporarily knocks them out and they fall to the ground and then you can kill them without being attacked.

Come by for my GIVE-A-WAY this week by 10 pm Fri.
and then check out our newest addition.


the kloesels said...

How have the blue ceilings worked out for you? Thinking of doing the same.... Thanks!

puck said...

We really love the blue! So pretty and fresh!