When Southern Nest introduced “Southern Nest Blue” this week (you can read about it here) I began searching for every fabulous light blue porch ceiling I could find. I am determined to paint my porch ceiling light blue this summer as well. On a recent trip to Columbia, SC, my husband and on drove through the beautiful historical neighborhoods of the city. I spotted some perfect examples of the blue porch ceilings and jumped out to take pictures. My husband waited patiently (I’m sure thinking that I was nuts.) Such a good man.
The origin of the light blue porch ceiling is intriguing. There seem to be so many different explanations. The following was offered by Sherwin Williams color experts:
Blue ceilings are popular and have been popular in the South for centuries. “Porch ceilings have always been blue in the South,” says Lori Sawaya, an independent Principal Color Strategist. “People continue to paint their porch ceiling blue because that’s what their grandmother did, and that’s what her grandmother did.” But many Southerners suggest that blue porch ceilings originated out of the fear of haints. Southerners, especially in the area of South Carolina, have a name for the ceiling paint used on porches — the soft blue-green is referred to as “Haint Blue.” “Haints are restless spirits of the dead who, for whatever reason, have not moved on from their physical world,” says Sawaya. Haint blue, which can also be found on door and window frames as well as porch ceilings, is intended to protect the homeowner from being “taken” or influenced by haints. It is said to protect the house and the occupants of the house from evil. Some people swear that blue paint repels insects, leaving a porch bug-free and pleasant during those long summer evenings and afternoons. Most credible sources discredit this belief. However, this belief could be seated in historical truths. When blue paints were first used on ceilings, they were usually milk paints, and those paints often had lye mixed into the composition. Lye is a known insect repellent, which would explain why insects would avoid nesting on a painted porch ceiling or ledge. As milk paint has a tendency to fade over time, giving it a rustic look, people would usually need to repaint their home every year or few years, covering the existing coat with a new coat of paint, and fresh lye. But many still theorize that insects prefer not to nest on blue ceilings because they are “fooled” into thinking the blue paint is actually the sky.
While the origin is up in the air, it definitely adds charm to a front porch. I would want to spend a long, hot summer in the south on any of these porches.
By Courtney Ronay of Southern Nest