Southern Style: Haint Blue Porch Ceilings on the New Orleans Northshore

I’ve been asked many times, ‘What’s the color of paint people use on the outdoor porch ceilings that keeps bugs out?’  Some people living in and around New Orleans might call it Dirt Dauber Blue.  But in the Low Country region of South Carolina or Georgia, where the Gullah/Geechee community resides, the blue porch ceiling color is generally referred to as Haint Blue.

Haint Blue porch ceiling on a two bay shotgun raised cottage house in Abita Springs Historic District.  The gabled front porch with decorative shingles and porch on two sides is typical of the style of Abita architecture, considered 'Louisiana North Shore' or 'Abita Style'

The Gullah/Geechee people, who are descendants of African slaves, believe using the Haint Blue color wards off evil spirits, or Haints.  Haint is a variation of the word ‘Haunt’, meaning ghost or troublesome spirit.  The cultural legend holds that a Haint could not cross through or over water, so a cerulean blue mixture of blue was applied to window frames and sills, door frames, shutters, openings, and interior ceilings of their homes.  They hoped that the blue color would confuse and trick a Haint into thinking the paint was water, and would keep them away.  At some point in time, the Haint Blue color began to be painted on porch ceilings, too.

Two bay shotgun raised cottage with Haint Blue porch ceiling and louvered shutters, located in historic Old Mandeville, Louisiana. It has a gabled front with decorative shingles and a porch on two sides, considered as 'Louisiana Northshore Style' or 'Abita Style'

Jean Baptiste Lang House, circa 1850, in historic Old Mandeville.  The Anglo-Creole Cottage has a Haint Blue porch ceiling, Bevolo French Quarter style lantern light fixture, French Quarter Green shutters, and a cypress wood church pew bench with wicker chairs on the raised porch

Haint Blue porch ceiling and louvered shutters on a  three bay shotgun raised cottage in Old Mandeville, LA

While growing up in south Louisiana, I hadn’t ever questioned the ‘why’ behind the blue porch ceilings on so many homes.  I’d always heard stories that blue porch ceilings prevent dirt daubers or wasps from building nests, and keep mosquitos out because the blue color tricks them by appearing to be the sky.  Maybe a long time ago that was the case.  Dating back to the early 1700’s, the Haint Blue paint mixture was made in dirt pits, dug in the yard, using limes, buttermilk, and indigo.  Since it was created by hand, Haint Blue was actually a range of colors that varied from blue-greens to periwinkle blues.  Some people think that the lime used in the blue paint mixture repelled the bugs, wasps, and mosquitos, not the color itself.  Whether or not that’s the case, the Town of Abita Springs is notorious for being a haunted town, with a ghostly house here and there, especially in the historic district.  Until a few years ago, I hadn’t heard of the phrase Haint Blue, but I’ve certainly seen a lot of blue porch ceilings around here in Abita Springs and the New Orleans Northshore.

 Two bay shotgun double raised cottage with a Haint Blue porch ceiling, located in the Abita Springs Historic District

Haint Blue porch ceiling on a restored raised Creole cottage in the Abita Springs Historic District

Haint Blue porch ceiling and horizontal slat shutters on a three bay shotgun house in the Abita Springs Historic District

Haint Blue porch ceiling on blue painted cottage in Abita Springs Historic District

Depending on which legend you believe (as a repellant for troublesome spirits or harassing bugs), Haint Blue is a welcomed porch ceiling color in the New Orleans Northshore area.  These historic houses in Old Mandeville and along the lakefront of Lake Pontchartrain reflect the cultural mixture of Spanish, French, European, and African Descent with Caribbean influences evident in the Creole Architecture of Louisiana.

 Louisiana Northshore Style railed cottage with Haint Blue porch ceiling in the historic district of Old Mandeville

 Little Flower Villa, circa 1836, on Lakeshore Drive in historic district of old Mandeville, LA.  The restored Southern Creole style house has a Haint Blue porch ceiling, French Quarter Green horizontal slat shutters, and Bevolo gas lanterns.

 Raised Creole Cottage listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Old Mandeville, LA, has a Haint Blue porch ceiling, French Quarter Green shutters, and Bevolo gas lanterns

 Windhaven House, circa 1926, on Lakeshore Drive in Old Mandeville, LA, has a Haint Blue porch ceiling, French doors with transoms, and is referred to as a 'Center Hall' home

 Historic double shotgun raised cottage with Haint Blue porch ceiling, French Quarter Green shutters, and dormers on the roof, in Old Mandeville, LA

Although “Justine Plantation” was originally built in Centreville, LA, in St. Mary Parish in the early 1800’s, it was moved by barge to the lakeshore of Mandeville in 2003.  Notice the lovely shades of Haint Blue colors on the porch ceiling and handrails.  A little lagniappe about the history of this house, along with many other plantation homes, can be found in this Louisiana cookbook (AL).

Justine Plantation, originally built in Centreville, Louisiana, in St. Mary Parish during the early 1800's, was moved by barge to the New Orleans Northshore on the lakefront of Old Mandeville in 2003.  The prominent dormer and neoclassic detailing were added in 1907. The Haint Blue porch ceiling color compliments the other colors of the raised Antebellum house.

And like an authentic Louisiana gumbo, a balanced blend of Creole architectural styles with blue porch ceilings can be found in nearby Covington.  Some of you might already be familiar with the Southern Living Louisiana Idea House, Bayou Bend, in TerraBella Village, a traditional neighborhood development.

 Southern Living Louisiana Idea House, Bayou Bend, in TerraBella Village has a Haint Blue porch ceiling, cypress wood front door, French Quarter Green horizontal louvered shutters, and Bevolo gas lantern.

Can’t you just imagine relaxing while sipping sweet tea or lemonade on a hot summer day on the porch beneath one of these Haint Blue ceilings?

 Contemporary home, built by J Hand Homes, with Haint Blue porch ceiling, stained antique wood front door with transom, and Bevolo French Quarter style gas lantern

 Model Home, built by C M Combs Homes, with Haint Blue porch ceiling, French Quarter Green shutters, antique brick in a herringbone pattern, and Bevolo gas lantern

 Raised cottage with Haint Blue porch ceiling in TerraBella Village, a traditional neighborhood development in Covington, Louisiana

I kept having a familiar feeling while digging a little deeper into the ‘why’ behind the blue porch ceilings, learning more about the cultural traditions of the Gullah/Geechee people of Charleston and Savannah.  It seemed to me like there was a common cultural thread not only with the French Creoles of the New Orleans Northshore area, but throughout Louisiana, and especially with the Creole community along the Cane River in Natchitoches Parish.  Melrose Plantation, along with the Cane River Creole community, was established in the late 1700’s by the freed slave Marie Therese Coin-Coin and her descendants.  Melrose Plantation was where Clementine Hunter (AL), renowned Louisiana folk artist, lived and created joyous and remarkable art depicting the life and culture of the Creole community along the Cane River.  If you look closely at her artwork, she used turquoise-lavender shades of Haint Blue paint colors on the windows, doors frames, shutters, and openings on the houses, churches, and buildings in her paintings.

 Clementine Hunter ceramic platter with pattern 'A Day at Melrose Plantation'.  In this artist rendering, the famous Louisiana folk art painter captures the structures, painting doors, windows, and shutters with Haint Blue, at the historic Melrose Plantation on the Cane River

(Clementine Hunter – Ceramic Platter)

Although the cultural folklores between South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana may have parallels and similarities, the Haint Blue colors undoubtedly vary by region.  Our local Benjamin Moore dealer, Helm Paint, recommends ‘Blue Allure, 771’ to customers looking for a typical blue porch ceiling color.

 Benjamin Moore Blue Allure 771, a light Haint Blue color for a porch ceiling

Technically, there’s not a specific shade of Haint Blue if you want the historical shades used by the Gullah/Geechee communities of Charleston and Savannah during the eighteenth century.  They used whatever they had available on hand (limes, pigments, chalks) to make the watery blue colors.  And it differs by region and period.

 50 Shades of Haint Blue - a helpful round-up list of 'Haint Blue' (or, 'Dirt Dauber Blue') paint colors from various sources to select from for your home's porch ceiling

So, if you’re in search of a Haint Blue color (or ‘Dirt Dauber Blue’), for your home’s porch ceiling, here’s a helpful round-up list of 50 shades of Haint Blue paint colors from various sources for you to review and consider.  There are beautiful turquoise and aqua blues with a little green, some that are more of a true blue, and others that are a periwinkle blue with a hint of purple.

50 Shades of Haint Blue (or Dirt Dauber Blue) for Porch Ceilings:

  • Sherwin Williams, Halcyon Green, SW 6213 (aka, Vieux Carre’ French Market Blue)
  • Sherwin Williams, Watery, SW 6478
  • Sherwin Williams, Meander Blue, SW 6484
  • Sherwin Williams, Atmospheric, SW 6505
  • Sherwin Williams, Hinting Blue, SW 6519
  • Sherwin Williams, Waterscape, SW 6470
  • Sherwin Williams, Blissful Blue, SW 6527
  • Sherwin Williams, Crystal Clear, SW 6756
  • Sherwin Williams, Retiring Blue, SW 6763
  • Sherwin Williams, Bubble, SW 6770
  • Sherwin Williams, Soar, SW 6799
  • Sherwin Williams, Adrift, SW 7608
  • Sherwin Williams, Tidewater, SW 6477 (or, HGSW2317)
  • HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, Sweet Salt Air, HGSW1337
  • HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, Pristine Skies, HGSW2337
  • HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, Crescent Blue, HGSW2357
  • HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, Pensive Skies, HGSW2377
  • Benjamin Moore, Palladian Blue, HC-144
  • Benjamin Moore, Yarmouth Blue, HC-150
  • Benjamin Moore, Spring Sky, 674
  • Benjamin Moore, Mystical Blue, 792
  • Benjamin Moore, Polar Sky, 1674
  • Benjamin Moore, Forget Me Not, 2049-60
  • Benjamin Moore, Arctic Blue, 2050-60
  • Benjamin Moore, Bird’s Egg, 2051-60
  • Benjamin Moore, Ocean Air, 2123-50
  • Benjamin Moore, Caribbean Mist, 2061-70
  • Benjamin Moore, White Satin, 2067-70
  • Benjamin Moore, Affinity, Constellation, AF-540
  • Farrow & Ball, Light Blue, 22
  • Farrow & Ball, Parma Gray, 27
  • Farrow & Ball, Dix Blue, 82
  • Farrow & Ball, Green Blue, 84
  • Farrow & Ball, Stone Blue, 86
  • Valspar, Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue, 5007-9A
  • Valspar, Carolina Inn Club Aqua, 5004-3B
  • Valspar, Cincinnatian Hotel Abbey, 5004-9B
  • Valspar, La Fonda Mirage, 5003-5B
  • Valspar, Tropical Bay, 5002-3C
  • Glidden, Tropical Surf, 30BG 72/069
  • Glidden, Clerestory Blue, 70BG 69/094
  • Behr, Spacious Skies, P500-1
  • Behr, Permafrost, S490-1
  • Behr, Tahitian Sky, M460-1
  • Behr, Distant Shore, S500-1
  • Behr, Clear Pond, PPU13-15
  • Behr, Millstream, PPU14-16
  • Bear, Monet, PPU15-17
  • Home Decorators Collection by Behr, Waterfall, HDC-CT-16B
  • Home Decorators Collection by Behr, Seaglass, HDC-CT-26A

I generally tell our clients that the shade of blue color that you select for a porch ceiling really depends on what looks best with the other elements and colors of your own house.  Have you painted your porch ceiling a Haint Blue color?  If so, which one did you use?  Do tell!

XO,

Trisha