New England architecture is distinct, with a durable elegance that sets it apart from many other regional styles. One of the main components of this distinction is exterior color. We’re very opinionated about the color of our homes here, working to ensure that new and renovated projects are cohesive with their historical counterparts.
Curated hues that express the legacy of New England house colors are important to us. Renovating the exterior of a historic home or building a new home with that iconic New England charm can be a unique challenge — but knowing where to get the inspired paint colors can be the key to unlocking a style that’s worthy of its colossal design reputation.
This article provides a guide to historic New England paint colors by period and plenty of inspiration to work with. This design cheat sheet is followed by a match-up with modern paint colors and advice on where to find these paint collections near you.
New England Aesthetics by Historical Period
Rooted in 400 years of architectural history, New England is rife with buildings heavy in character. While single-gabled colonial houses were rarely painted, stocky Georgian houses, Federal homes, Victorian residences and others had distinct shades of paint made with the local minerals and pigments available at that time.
First Period (1740-1780s)
Historians believe that homeowners first began experimenting with exterior paint colors in this era, starting with basic pigmentations formed from white lead, linseed oil and iron oxide. Paint was typically mixed and applied directly on site which led to tonal inconsistencies. The First Period saw New England House colors that were fairly timid in tone and focused on neutrals with slight coloration. Prussian blue, oyster and tan tones really capture the spirit of this early era in New England.
Federal/Greek Revival (1780-1840s)
Federal and Greek Revival styles both took root in this next phase of New England history. Lighter shades were all the rage with experimental pastels taking center stage. Light green, light yellow, sky blue and peach are considered historic New England paint colors representative of the Federal and Greek Revival period.
Now, things really get interesting! Synthetics arrived on the scene, which helped the burgeoning paint industry expand its options — and the Victorian-era clientele loved it. Dark gold tones, velvety greens, rich reds and nutty brown tones were very popular in this time period. In many cases, homeowners would mix and match different colors to draw attention to various features of the home, like cornices, columns, corbels and other decorative fascia common in Victorian architecture.
Benjamin Moore Paint – Modern Brilliance with Historic Character
The beauty of the New England architectural scene is that there are many historic buildings that have been preserved with exceptional authenticity and attention to detail.
Take a stroll in any historic district, and you’ll find a smattering of all these different eras – from modest colonial structures with First Period taupes to peach and white homes expressing the Greek Revival style to ornate Victorian residences with striking color combos.
While the history of the area is palpable, don’t let these gorgeous homes fool you, most have been refurbished and preserved using modern paint choices that offer better durability and color clarity than was possible in the past. After all, paint technology has advanced tremendously, so you definitely want to go with a high-quality option that offers all the advantages of the modern day formulas.
Benjamin Moore is a brand that recognizes the importance of recreating historic New England paint colors using today’s best paint technology. Founded in the 1800s, the Benjamin Moore brand has seen it all and has adapted through the ages.
Today’s products are crafted using a zero-VOC waterborne colorant system, which enhances the environmentally-friendly nature of Benjamin Moore paint products.
Superior product, superior selection – Benjamin Moore paint is the perfect option for finding New England house colors that express the full spectrum of traditional styles, from the First Period to the Victorian era and beyond. With a variety of curated collections available, Benjamin Moore has done all the sorting for you!
Here are a few Benjamin Moore tones to check out first, according to the architectural era and paint colors popular in New England:
- First Period Paint Colors – Yorkshire Tan, Decatur Buff, Yarmouth Blue
- Federal/Greek Revival Paint Colors – Hathaway Peach, Weston Flax, Hancock Green
- Victorian Paint Colors – Dorset Gold, Garrison Red, Van Buren Brown
Where to Find Top-Quality Historic New England Paint Colors
The historical collection from Benjamin Moore is ideal for New England house colors. Whether you’re building from the ground up or working to preserve a building that’s been around for over a hundred years. Koopman Lumber is the local provider to contact for the best Benjamin Moore paints on the market.
With trustworthy expertise and a powerhouse team based right here in New England, you can count on Koopman during your next building or renovation project. Contact Koopman Lumber today to find historic New England paint colors – and anything else you may need – to beautify your home!