Haint Blue: A Southern Legend

 In House Design, House Stories

Have you ever been clicking through real estate listing photos, driving past a home for sale, or just visiting a friend and you notice the porch ceiling is painted blue? From the coziest cottages to rambling farmhouses, having a painted blue porch ceiling actually stems from Southern folklore.

Blue porch ceilings are most common in South Carolina and Georgia from where the Gullah tradition stems. The custom spread and can often be seen in other Southern states like North Carolina, Florida, and Alabama.

But why?

In the Gullah folklore of the Carolina Lowcountry, the color serves a purpose. Porch ceilings and sometimes even trim around doorways were painted blue to represent water. It was said that spirits and ghosts, aka “haints,” could not cross water and therefore could not cross the threshold of the home.

While there is no specific shade of blue, the tradition has simply come to call the design choice Haint Blue.

Pest Control

Some Southerners also believe that blue porch ceilings serve as a means of pest control. The thought is that bees, insects, and birds think of the paint as “the sky” and they won’t fly beneath it. This idea probably stems from how paint was made back in the day. When blue paints were first used on ceilings, they were made from a mixture of milk and lye. Lye is a known insect repellent! Paint has a different composition now but the legend remains.

If you’re looking for just the right shade of ‘haint blue’ for your porch ceiling, just comment below and I’ll email you a tried and true list of gorgeous shades that will coordinate with your house color perfectly.

So there you have it! Next time you see a blue porch ceiling, you know that house is protected from not only evil spirits but also bees!

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