Design Hints

Paint Pros

Reflect a room's era and favored atmosphere by selecting historic paint colors with care.

Design Hints

Cover your walls, ceilings and trim in hues that set a beautiful backdrop for your furnishings and treasures. Learn valuable information from Tammy and Chris Cruz, who evaluated their color palette to achieve an early-1800s vibe inside their stone house in Bath, Pennsylvania.

* Narrow Your Focus. Look for themed paint groupings offered by brands with descriptions like "heritage" or "historic." Companies often create pleasing combinations to help homeowners choose from thousands of colors.

* Mix to Match. Consider color-matched paint, as outlets can capture a pigment from a very small inspiration swatch. Get samples from two or three stores to find the best one, Chris advises. They often vary slightly because of differences in ingredients and techniques.

* Hold Color Tryouts. Paint small areas and live with them for a while to see which ones call out to you. For example, when Tammy and Chris were unsure about the color of their exterior shutters, they painted one black, one maroon and one blue -- and waited for their preference to settle. Blue won out.

* Bring Down the Ceiling. Tone down the brightness of "ceiling white" paint by adding a dab of your wall color. Especially in an older home, the new finish of pure white can be jarring. Chris' recipe is adding 2 to 4 ounces per gallon of ceiling white. Ask the paint store staff to do it for you, he suggests.

* Create Harmony. Coordinate adjoining rooms by flipping the wall and trim colors. The Cruzes repeated their kitchen wall color on the dining room millwork, and the kitchen trim color was used on the dining room walls. "It ties the rooms together but makes them look different," Tammy says.

Written by Pamela Dittmer McKuen
Photographed by Gridley + Graves