Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blue porch ceilings

Here in the South porch ceilings have been painted blue for centuries. Why? When you ask around you are given three different reasons.

Reason #1. It is believed that a blue ceiling reminds the porch sitter of a beautiful day. It is calming. It extends daylight. And it is just plain attractive. All very valid reasons. There is just something calming about sitting on a porch swing or on a rocking chair watching the world go by. Porch sitting is a very Southern sport. This is about the only sport that I participate in on a regular basis.

Reason #2. The reason that I've always heard is that a blue ceiling is resistant to spiders, general bugs, bees and wasps. You know, annoying insects. The reasoning goes that the bugs are fooled into thinking that the ceiling is actually sky so they won't build nests in the corners. Could be true if you believe that bugs see in color. Or it could be that years and years ago the paint had lye in it which is naturally bug resistant. Since, I don't particularly like spiders, general bugs, wasps and bees (which JR is highly allergic to) I'd paint my porch blue as an added precaution.

Reason #3. The color blue keeps ghosts and evil spirits from getting into the house. There is some debate on whether this practice started in South Carolina or in the bayous of southern Louisiana. I doubt it really matters since it has spread across the whole South. Since, I'm the same one that keeps fountains and wind chimes near both doors of any house we live in for this very reason this theory works best for me.

It seems that everyone is getting into the act of painting porch ceilings blue as the tradition has spread from southern states to northern states.

Do you have a porch ceiling? Is it painted blue? What reason works best for you?



  1. It actually a very practical reason. When lighting in a room was with lamps and candles the blue was the one colour that retained it hue longest while throwing back as much light as it could. You'll generally find that there is a hierarchy. Yellow/brown on ceilings below 10', between 10 and 20 it will be the blue. Above that mother-of-pearl white. And the higher the ceiling the lighter the blue or the more m-o-p in the mélange.
    If you want to check this get a bit of Wedgewood blued ceramic and light the room with a tea light. That plate/urn will jump out at you.
    But I suspect there was the added plus down your way that the blue was a blessed relief from all that harsh sun.

    1. Now, you're getting all logical on me. I'm a bit more fanciful.

  2. Alas, I no longer live in the South, so we have no blue porch ceiling. In fact, we have very little porch and it has no ceiling at all. :(

    And, since I am disgustingly practical, I like Vince's explanation the best.

  3. The office/library building from Thomas Edison's Menlo Park has a blue.porch ceiling, and I always thought it was gorgeous, but didnt know the reason behind it.

  4. Vince's remarks about blue paint reminded me of something similar I read about stained glass windows. Blue glass requires the least amount of sunlight to "glow", so to speak. Apparently that's why you'll see predominately blue, and not red or yellow, glass windows in the north side of cathedrals. The natural daylight is weakest on the north exposure, even more so the further north you go. If I had a blue porch ceiling, I'd put little glow in the dark stars and planets on it.

  5. Knowing me, I'd probably go against the grain and paint my green, just to stay on the same side of the color wheel, if not in the same hue. :-)

  6. I like that last reason and those houses are lovely. I'm a very big fan of porches...they are just a really relaxing place to be.

  7. I like reason #2...decoy for bugs, spiders, wasp I'm all for it!
    Those are some lovely homes.
    Our porch on the cabin has rough cut ponderosa pine on it.

  8. This house had blue porch ceilings. I decided that I didn't want blue as I felt the ceiling was sitting on top of me!!


  9. Sounds good if it repelled bugs and such. However my porch ceiling is beadboard and white. I use a yellow bulb and that works for the bugs. People always ask me if the yellow bulb really works? it does for me and there are tons of bugs around here.

  10. I don't know about the ghosts and such, but I do know that the blue discourages wasps and dirt dabbers from building nests. We had a house with blue porch ceilings and they wouldn't build their nests on the blue parts. Spiders, however, apparently don't care one way or the other. :)