The Painted Ladies
Masury’s Paint Colour Samples…
During the 1800’s houses were painted with dark, rich colors, however, during the early 1900’s many homes began using lighter shades with contrasting accents, and new houses were given the same lighter treatment. Commonly painted with dark colors in the Victorian period, house colors lightened up with the change in regime and social climate on both sides of the Atlantic. Traditional three-color palettes opened up to include more colors and a wider variety of tones. However, in more conservative areas, houses were given new, lighter treatment only on trim and other decorative aspects of the house’s external design.
Popular External Colors
Popular external colors of the time included silver gray, cream, lemon yellow, ivory, sage and rose for the walls. Trim colors ranged from blue to olive green, rust and brown. In some areas during the 1920s, entire houses remained deep green and brown with lighter trim. Roofs were usually dark colors, including brown and black.
Exterior Victorian Decorating Colors
Authentic, original Victorian colors were a rather muted palette with many varied hues of ochre, russet, beige, taupe, brown, and ecru. Victorians believed in dramatic contrasts.
These color choices were made by trendsetter and Victorian landscape designer, Andrew Jackson Downing, who believed a house should blend in with its natural surroundings. He accomplished this by selecting colors found in nature. It’s also important to note that bright pigmentation was more expensive to produce than those paints created by grinding up plant life, tree bark and rocks. The natural tints didn’t fade like the bright colors which made them better economic choices.
Some Victorian homes, however were not painted in these muted colors but in very bright and vibrant colors. As early as 1885, a newspaper account described the homes along Nob Hill in San Francisco as being painted in very ‘loud’ colors. These homes were from both the Victorian and Edwardian era and were later dubbed the ‘Painted Ladies’. The colors used to paint these mansions were bright yellow, orange, chocolate, blue, and red.
No blog on exterior painting of Victorian houses can exclude the “Painted Ladies”. The term “painted ladies” refers to any set Victorian or Edwardian houses that use 3+ colors to show off the architectural details of their design. When you refer to “The Painted Ladies” in San Francisco most people assume that you are talking about the row of six Victorian homes located on Steiner Street in the Alamo Square neighborhood. These colorful houses have become famous as a symbol of San Francisco architecture.
Many styles of houses built during the early 1900s had interior and exterior color schemes attached to them by designers of the time. Long-lasting white paint had appeared for the first time in the 1880s, and was used extensively in the late 1800s through the 1920s in Edwardian style homes. In contrast with the white and cream wall paints, edges and decorative work like chair rails were often painted gold, green or red.
Arts and Crafts Interiors
Arts and Crafts style houses, in keeping with the designs and color palette designed by William Morris, who led the movement, used muted colors drawn from nature, including light olive and sage colors, dark (but not jewel-toned) reds, dark pink, and gray-blues. Colors for Aesthetic Movement houses were similar to those for Arts and Crafts designs, but with slightly brighter shades of the same colors.
Interior Victorian Colors Used
Interior colors were typically the traditional earth tones often in deeper hues of red, amber, emerald, and dark brown. Drama was part of the effect by using different rich deep colors so each room felt important. Victorians loved expressing the financial growth afforded by the Industrial Revolution and reflected their good fortune in home decorating.
•Hallways were painted in neutral shades of gray and tans as were entrances. These colors were enhanced by using various faux painting techniques that imitated authentic design elements at a fraction of the cost such as marbling, stenciling and wood-graining.
During the 1800’s John Masury was the founder of Masury Paint, a popular source and guideline to colour selections.
An extremely popular painter of the times was William Morris, his advise and comments were often adhered to.