Design Hints

Painting the Past

Deciding on paint colors in any home can be a trial, and staying true to an older home's period while expressing one's own style presents additional challenges. When restoring their historic Pennsylvania residence, Jack and Patty Miller followed these smart tips, which could work for picking a palette in any age home.

Painting the Past

Play with ceiling color. Ceilings don't have to be white. In the kitchen, the Millers chose a dark hue for the ceiling that contrasts with the creamy yellow cabinets and light walls, grounding the entire space. In smaller rooms, a pale blue ceiling, mimicking the sky, would add a sense of airiness and height.

Contrast and compare. Make sure painted woodwork stands out against the wall color -- make trim darker when the walls are light, and choose white for trimwork when the walls are a bold color. The dining room's beautiful white moldings, mantel and built-in cabinetry are shown to their best advantage against the deep mustard hue on the walls.

Use different colors in different rooms. In contrast to contemporary open floor plans, older homes offer enough separation to pick a particular palette for every room. Jack and Patty's house features different wall and trim hues in just about every room, which results in each space having its own distinct feel.

Try two-tone. Use two complementary colors on woodwork to bring out even more detail. The front entry of the Millers' house highlights the lovely molding around the door and transoms by featuring both a light and a slightly deeper shade of beige. Pretty stenciling on the walls completes the period look.

Written by Nancy Anderson Hedberg
Photographed and Styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt