You don’t have to look far in the South to see that porches—and porch sitting—are a cultural mainstay. So is the tradition of painting a porch ceiling blue. Some say the idea stems from the notion that blue porch ceilings prevented insects and birds from nesting. But more often than not, the color is attributed to the story surrounding the Gullah/Geechee shade known as “haint blue” and its influence on American design over the centuries. “The ‘haint blue’ color that is found on homes and buildings throughout the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is a visual representation of the power and legacy of Gullah Culture,” says Michael Allen, Community Specialist for the National Park Service. “We know through research that people of African descent brought that tradition surrounding the color with them to the United States. It is a color they believed defended the home from troubled spirits: a bright, Caribbean blue.”
Some of the iterations that have been interpreted and used on porch ceilings over the centuries vary from the traditional vivacious turquoise, to more subdued, ice blue hues, to shades that are equal parts blue and green. Whether you go bold or take a more subtle approach, choosing the exact color that will work best for your home isn’t easy.
So we asked some of the country’s most talented designers, architects, and historic color experts to weigh in on their favorites. They follow below.
Color: Historic Charleston Foundation Collection (Sherwin-Williams Piazza Blue D-CR075)
“’Haint Blue’ is a topic that interests a lot of people. We get a number of calls and questions from folks around the country asking for the ‘official’ color. There are a range of blues that are considered piazza blue or haint blue.” This is one of them.—Historic Charleston Foundation
Color: Fine Paints of Europe (The Designer Collection II – AR-4)
“I love this blue because it has a lot of green in it. It’s very soft and subtle and almost seems like light reflected from the garden.”—Architect Gil Schafer
Color: Valspar National Trust for Historic Preservation Collection (La Fonda Teal)
“I love this color because you can see it from the river at our family house in Virginia. It reminds me of my Grandmother’s bright blue eyes who sat on the very same porch years ago.”—Interior Designer Louise Bance
Color: Benjamin Moore (Woodlawn Blue)
“This is my go-to porch ceiling color, hands down.”—Interior Designer Suzanne Kasler
Color: Farrow & Ball (Teresa’s Green #236)
“My favorite porch blue reads as a light turquoise and looks a little like an old Coke bottle. It sets off any house with style before you even walk in.” —Residential Designer Hunter Kennedy
Color: Benjamin Moore (Bird’s Egg)
“This hue is soft and pretty and works in just about any setting.”—Interior Designer Lindsey Coral Harper
NOTE: For a true color match, pick up a paint chip or sample. Computer monitors and phone screens are calibrated differently, and may show variations.