The Real Reason so Many Porches in the South Have Blue Ceilings
Spend some time in a traditional Southern neighborhood and one thing you’ll notice about the homes here are their beautiful porches. Look a little closer and you’ll also notice that the ceilings are painted a pretty shade of blue.
Ever wondered why? For many, the answer has a paranormal connotation. It’s an old custom that stems from the Gullah people, a group of slave descendants from South Carolina and coastal Georgia. Called “haint blue”, the paint color is meant to ward off restless spirits seeking to enter one’s home.
In Gullah dialect, “haint” is another word for “haunt” or ghost, and different hues of blue were used to paint the outside of a house like window frames or porches. According to myths, the color blue mimics the color of water, and spirits don’t like to cross water. Therefore, they won’t enter the home.
This folklore isn’t limited to South Carolina or Georgia either, as houses in Louisiana and other parts of the South are accented with the color. But there are also other reasons why people love to paint their porches blue.
Call it an old wives’ tale, but blue is also said to deter wasps, dirt daubers, and spiders from setting up shop where it is present. It’s believed that the bugs think it’s the sky they see, so they will avoid trying to settle down. Some swear by it and use it to this day with success. Others attribute it to superstition, and think the lime that was used as an ingredient in paint from earlier times was the true bug repellent.
Still, people love to paint their porch ceilings blue for another reason: they love it. You won’t just find homes in the South with blue porches. To add a touch of nature to their houses, people paint their porch ceilings blue as a way liven it up with the color of the sky. It’s said to stretch daylight out once the sun begins to set. Ahhh!
Lighter, brighter shades of blue have a calming effect on the psyche and environment. Relaxing under a clear, blue “sky” is a lovely way to spend or end the day.
If you’ve been thinking about painting your porch ceiling or interior ceilings blue, you don’t have to worry about getting the shade “haint blue” 100% perfect. When the color was mixed centuries ago, whatever pigments were available were used.
In some cases, they may have been closer to turquoise, mint green, aqua blue, or even a periwinkle tone. Today, you can find many blues that come close. Check out this video from Food & Wine to hear more about the interesting background of this tradition.
You can decide for yourself if there’s something – or someone – you want to keep away by painting a part of your house a light shade of blue.
Were you familiar with the stories surrounding blue porch ceilings in the South? Do you have a home that features “haint blue”? Would you paint your porch ceiling this color?