-by Historic Preservation Advocate Sarah Marsom

Many people in German Village are looking to brighten up their home with fresh paint.  Painting your house the same color is always a great option, but if you are looking to try something new there are many wonderful historically appropriate options.  The German Village Guidelines do not have a specific list of approved paint, so that leaves it up to you (and the historic preservation office) to determine what is an appropriate paint color.

There are a variety of architectural styles ranging from cottages to Italianate to Queen Anne’s to Craftsman Bungalows.  Architectural styles are more than an aesthetic representation of people, but also speak to cultural shifts.  Original cottages tell the story of an immigrant and Crafstman Bungalows reflect a period where people wanted to rebel against Victorian ideals with open floor plans and more of a connection to nature.  Paint colors are a part of design movements and reflect availability to dyes and technological advances.

If you are interested in painting your home a more period appropriate color, the internet is a bountiful resource.  There are many websites that have scanned images of advertising from the 1800s and 1900s detailing what color one should paint their house.  EX: picturesqueitalianatearchitecture.blogspot.com and arts-crafts.com.  Quick google searches for “historic paint color Queen Anne” or “appropriate craftsman bungalow colors” yield bountiful results.  There have also been books published on all styles of architecture specifically talking about both exterior and interior paint colors.

Additional resources/options include:

  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation, partnered with Valspar paint to create interior and exterior color palates for a variety of period styles.  Sherwin- Williams also has a historic collection for both interior and exterior paint colors.
  • You can hire an expert to perform a paint analysis of your home.  It is very interesting, they will carve a tiny crater through the layers of paint and analyze the layers with a microscope.

Painting your home is a wonderful home improvement project and comparatively an easy certificate of appropriateness project.  Walking through the German Village Historic District, one can appreciate the story told by the colors throughout the district.  If you have any questions about the Certificate of Appropriateness application process or preservation projects, please contact me at smarsom@germanvillage.com or 221-8888.