Encouraging the Use of Accurate or Appropiate Colors for the Interiors of Historic Residential Properties

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MA in Historic Preservation

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To view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at archives@goucher.edu or (410) 337-6075.


When owners of a historic residential property decide to repaint the interior of their house, they have three options: accurate colors that positively match the historic colors of the property; appropriate colors based on the period and style of the property; or arbitrary colors solely based on the owners' personal taste without taking the style and period of the architecture into consideration. All three of these options impact the integrity of the property either positively or negatively. The goals of this thesis are to educate owners of historic residential properties about the important relationship between color and architecture and encourage them to use accurate or appropriate colors for the interior of their historic residential properties. The thesis recommends an evaluation process which considers a property's National Register status and use to determine its significance. The author defines acceptable preservation treatments for different property types and the various sources of professional assistance available to historic residential property owners. This thesis also discusses how accurate and appropriate historic colors are determined, reviews several historic color palettes from leading paint manufacturers, and examines the need for interior color standards. Chapter III synthesizes this information to create a decision tree that allows historic homeowners to trace the steps of each color decision for any given property and to determine the impact each decision will have on the integrity of the property. Finally, this thesis provides a review of incentives for owners of historic residential properties to choose accurate or appropriate colors over arbitrary colors.