Editors' Picks: Old-House Color - Old House Journal Magazine

Editors' Picks: Old-House Color

Our editors highlight new and classic articles. Inject a little color into gray winter weather.
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Cure the winter blahs with a shot of color! Freezing outdoor temperatures make winter the perfect time to focus on indoor projects...and we can't think of a better pick-me-up for these lackluster fall days than reinventing a room with a bold new color. Of course, selecting colors for old houses can be a little tricky, given that you need to keep the historical context of your home in mind while browsing at the paint store. These three articles offer inspiration, tips, and sources that will make the process easier. Here's to a colorful season!


Boston’s Otis House parlor

Georgian and Federal ColorCa. 1770 - 1830, colors were brilliant, the patterns eye-popping.

California's Bidwell Mansion is clad in tinted plaster, a finished appearance that can be combined with repairs.

California's Bidwell Mansion is clad in tinted plaster, a finished appearance that can be combined with repairs.

Skim Coating in Color: If your plaster walls have settled and cracked, shore them up again using this technique that combines mesh-reinforced repairs with a color pigment finish.

Board wainscot in a Federal house

Board wainscot in a Federal house

Authentic Colonial ColorsPrussian blue gets all the ink, but true Colonial-era colors, although diverse, have an earthy quality.

“Paint fresh from the factory,” catalog, Franklin Paint Co.

Guide to Period-Appropriate Paints: From historic color palettes to old-fashioned paint formulas, find the right fit for your house’s walls with this source list.

1930s bathroom illustration

Ming Green was the name of this color in American Standard’s early color repertoire. It made a bold Art Deco statement when paired with mauve and peach tiles, as in this advertisement from the early 1930s.

The Evolution of Colored Bathroom Fixtures: Mid-20th-century bathrooms displayed a rainbow of hues, as evidenced by these vintage advertisements.

A pair of cymbidium orchids frames the entry door and the newly rebuilt porch.

An exterior painted in earthy historic colors.

Colorful Craftsman: With a nod to modernism, Garrison Hullinger and J Jones refine a 1909 Portland Foursquare saved from the wrecking ball.

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