As a long-suffering chromatophobist, I have always steered clear of vibrant, saturated colors, both inside and out. Neutral shades of grey, beige, and taupe, with risky splashes of “wheat” or “sage” have been my safety zone. In my house and on my back. Time to come out of the neutral-zone closet. As it turns out, maintaining all things old house is pretty good therapy.
A little antecedent information first. Larger homes built between 1850 and 1915, were probably, in one form or another, influenced by Victorian architecture designs. Detailed gingerbread woodwork, bold brackets and enormous shutters beg for a color scheme that will complement their detail. In putting together a post on Victorian home colors, I discovered that natural earth-tone colors were favored, as a result of Victorian homeowners’ fascination with nature. White was rarely used and shades of green, brown, red, and mustard were the norm.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”
So how, exactly did we get to the riot of circus colors that frequently and proudly animate Victorian era homes today? Post Civil War homeowners started the transition to bolder color. Embracing color has long been a trend in post war eras and downturns in economies. Any fashion catalog you pick up today is testament to that. While embracing color, I cannot cross the line to coral “manpris.” It’s just not right. The “Painted Ladies” (tarts, as my mother would say) of San Francisco were transformed into vibrant tones of purple, pink, blue and red in the mid sixties after two world wars and drab makeovers in surplus battleship grey. The true Victorian-era homes were originally painted in much more natural tones. The San Fran tarts stand as international models of out-of-the-box palettes and celebrations of color and creativity.
I have read that color affects moods and emotions. Why did it take me 48 years to pick up on that newsworthy tidbit? Some therapists believe that each organ and body system has vibrational energy sensitive to corresponding vibrational energies from color. Huh? Chromotherapy is a pseudoscience with no basis in academia, but I sure sound smart talking about it, don’t I? This is not a scholarly missive or architectural critique of historical homes. It’s not even my opinion, really. Simply an observation of coming full circle, finding our color inspiration in nature. If we garner some additional benefits and “energy” from the colors of our homes, all the better!
Hope you enjoy the spectrum of houses I found. Perhaps we have not veered too far from the original intent of Victorian homeowners.