Painting-Historically?

Before Sara and I officially moved in, we long ago decided that we had a list of things that had to be done before we moved in. Was it practical? Yes. Was it going to make life easier? Yes. Did it work in practice? Somewhat.

Our list was fairly simple, such as fixing some of the electric and plaster work. We also wanted to paint the rooms before we officially moved in. That way we did not need to move furniture and could tape the woodwork easier. But, painting so many rooms by ourselves was overwhelming.

Originally when the house was built there would have been wallpaper on the plaster walls and it would have gone up to the picture rail which unfortunately is no longer there. According to previous owners there was 5 layers of wallpaper on the walls before they removed it down to bare plaster. I would love to wallpaper a few of the rooms with historical patterns but Sara is against this. Mainly because wallpaper is so difficult to take down.

I love these Wallpapers…they even wallpapered the ceiling. Our ceiling is wallpapered in a white Victorian pattern that is made to look like a tin ceiling.

This example was from our trip to Old World Wisconsin. I highly recommend going if you have never been there. The Wallpaper is split into the three parts: Frieze at the top, field or fill in the center , Dado or wainscoting at the bottom. The Crow’s nest may have had these elements but also just the field and frieze.

I love how all the different patterns work together yet are distinct. I’d probably never put these together and think ‘this works’. Alas this design seems far to decadent for my Folk Victorian in a small town.

So I began to look at historical colors that were popular at the time when the house was built. Victorians were not afraid of Color. I think we have this stigma that everything was either drab like the slums of Victorian England or white like we see in old black and white photographs but, THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. If I see another bleached white, minimalist Victorian home I will scream. So for me I will look at paint and patterns and stencils from the era to create my own Victorian inspired look. Sara is apprehensive on stenciling. But if it looks bad I can paint over it. Here are some colors that I find appealing and are somewhat historically accurate.

As you can see I like warm tones….

Luckily when it came time to paint friends and family came to our aid and we managed to paint many of the rooms at once. Thank goodness for my legions of sister in laws and brother in laws.

The dinning room was first on my list. There was just a little to much brown in the room. Brown wood floors, brown wood trim, brown walls, white and tan drapes, brown wood furniture, even the brass door hardware has aged to brownish hue. I wanted some color. Luckily I looked at the house for inspiration. The living room has a stunning Victorian gothic stained glass window in eggplant, yellow gold, pink, and green. In the library there is going to be an antique green sofa. In the stained glass ceiling fan there is accents of green glass. I wanted the rooms to tie visually in ways that most people will not perceive so that it all flows cohesively. So the dinning room is going to be my favorite color, green.

But what shade of green? Nothing dark. But not so light that it is mint or almost perceived as grey green. So I pulled out the Victorian color palettes and found a green that we liked. Then we had to match that green to a modern day paint. In the end we went with a magnolia home paint sour apple. It gives the space a nice leafy color.

The library color was an accident. I had to replaster a lot of this room because of messing with the electrical. I actually liked the dusty rose color in here but after numerous tries to match it with color scanners we had to repaint. I kept scratching my head. We have a green sofa and a pink chair. What goes with that? In the end I asked my interior design coworker what to do. She suggested a lighter blue. Sure enough I found a color blue that was definitely used when the house was built and it looked beautiful.

Love the new color. You are also seeing a sneek peak at the new light.

The living room color scheme was more difficult . We had a yellow kitchen, a green dinning room, and a blue library. I looked at the window and thought what could work with it. Purple? To colorful. Green to match the dinning room. Too much green. Yellow…maybe but Sara has a hard time with yellow. The thought came to me one night. Sara said no Red walls but maybe a burgundy accent in the room is what is needed. But you do not paint a room burgundy or any shade of red without serious thought. Instead what if we did neutrals with burgundy as the accent. So we just refreshed the paint with white. I may go back and paint the walls a subtle warm yellow later but for now I’ll wait and see if the white works for me.

Rather bland…I’ll work on it. But I want the stained glass to be the star.

Upstairs there were two rooms that needed painting. One is the travelers room and the other is the dressing room. The dressing room will be light. the reason for this is because I want to see my clothes for what colors they truly are. I am reminded of the days of shopping at Hollister as a teenager and bringing a pen light to see what I was buying. Otherwise you came out with a different color shirt than what you thought you were buying.

Thus a thought I had picked out a subtle French grey. But when it was finally painted we got a white room. Oh well… I already had reached my budget for this room.

Not bad. The color reminds me of whitewashed walls.

The Travelers Room had been lime green. It was fine for the previous owners teenage daughters but it was a bit loud for us. I had to contemplate what this room would be. What color should I use? Was there a theme? Usually I am not for theme rooms, but Victorians were known to have them. More on that on another post. Then it hit me. All the plans I had for the rooms so far were Victorian inspired but in all reality our house and the family in it had changed somewhat drastically by the 1910-1920s. The Crow’s Nest had been electrified, out fitted with modern plumbing and the layout of the main floor had changed. Most of the Mertes’ daughters were getting married, except for Helen who passed in 1922. So I looked at colors of the 1910s and 1920s. Thus I came up with my color scheme of teal blue, white, gold, and sky blue.

The Master Bedroom Color is okay and calming so it’s staying. It also reminds me of a color at Oak alley plantation. So somewhat historically accurate.

Pretty close in color. Our farmhouse is a lot simpler than a grand plantation. But, I dream having a bedroom like this.

4 thoughts on “Painting-Historically?

  1. Josh totally amazed as the way you are thinking and planning. Can’t wait to see the finished home. Super Betty W.

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  2. Thank you, Naomi. The house is labor of love. I have many posts in the works. Sara has joked that if I was left unsupervised the house would be a disaster of over 50 projects and I would be broke.

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