Color is magical. Certain hues leave indelible marks on our souls. Particular shades recall poignant memories. And subtle tints trigger profound emotions.
(Watercolor by John K. Grosvenor)
For me, the most beautiful color in the spectrum is blue. From light to dark, I love all variations. Robin’s egg blue. Wedgewood blue. Sapphire blue. Van Briggle blue. And I’m especially fond of the decorating mantra….Blue and White is always right!
But if I were hard pressed to pick my favorite shade of blue, I would choose Thomas Hardy’s description of Elfride Swancourt’s eyes in his classic novel a Pair of Blue Eyes:
“These eyes were blue; blue as autumn distance–blue as the blue we
see between the retreating mouldings of hills and woody slopes on
a sunny September morning. A misty and shady blue, that had no
beginning or surface, and was looked INTO rather than AT.”
Porch Ceiling Blue
When we bought Restmere, we immediately fell in love with the porch. The expansive space retained its original columns, arches, and Swiss Chalet fretwork.
However, something was amiss. The porch ceiling was painted a purplish blue that reminded me of the Crown Royal velvet bags from my childhood that we used for storing marbles.
The porch ceiling was not the traditional sky blue that New Englanders use to deter birds and bees from nesting. Nor was it the ethereal Haint blue that Southerners use to protect their homes from evil spirits.
This dark mottled color challenged centuries of historic precedent and morosely weighted the space.
Looking to History for Inspiration
Green Animals Topiary Gardens in Portsmouth, Rhode Island is one of my favorite retreats. Maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County, the seven-acre estate overlooks Narragansett Bay and features the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States.
Every summer we enjoy strolling through the gardens, admiring flower beds framed by English boxwoods and 80 trees sculptured as animals and geometric shapes.
The main residence was built in 1859, two years after Restmere, and is distinguished by a wrap-around porch. The highlight of our visit is relaxing on the porch.
As we gently shift back and forth on the rocking chairs, we look up and are greeted by the most heavenly shade of sky blue. And in those brief moments gazing down the lawn towards the bay, seated beside a love one, life is grand.
Recreating that same precious color at Restmere was a liberating experience. The lighter blue makes the entire porch seem more spacious. The serene color can also be appreciated when viewed from the dining room and living room windows.
When selecting a suitable color for your porch ceiling, be mindful that paint manufacturers offer a variety of traditional colors. Some blues may be a little too green or a little too grey for your liking.
Before you commit to a color, paint samples on separate pieces of cardboard and then adhere the cardboard to the ceiling with painter’s tape. Study the color at different times of the day to see how daylight plays with the hues. Then pick the color that speaks to your heart……..hopefully that color will resemble blue skies.
(Restmere’s Porch: Benjamin Moore: Clear Skies)