The gardens of Charleston are beautiful; masses of flower boxes overflowing with several different plants, beautiful lilies interspersed with caladiums, climbing fig meandering its way up columns to just barely touch the ceilings....many times, those porch ceilings were painted "haint blue".
When David and I (with Dallas' help) scraped and painted our front porch last year, we used two historical colors - the concrete floor is painted a silver gray and the bead board ceiling a light blue. I'd done some research on historical colors prior to beginning the week long job and heard that the old farmers/planters of the south had always used those colors - the silver gray under your feet was used to allow one to see snakes and other creepy critters in waning evening light and to avoid stepping on them; the light blue above your head was to discourage spiders and mud dobbers from nesting on your ceiling.
Since banana spiders annually engage us in a war for dominance down here, I jumped on the blue color immediately, but wasn't quite as certain of using the silver/gray (a color I personally "feel" as cold) on what was a green cement porch floor - although in the end, we used both those colors.
As for snakes and other critters, in the year that's gone since painting, I've not "seen" any at all, so maybe along with allowing the homeowner to see and avoid them, those critters just don't like the coldness of the color.
And the light blue painted on the bead board ceiling? Well, that has matched the legend that surrounds it very well...I've yet to go do battle with any mud-dobbers and banana spiders who desire to take up residence in the bead board...they seem to do exactly what it was said they'd do...avoid that ceiling. It hasn't completely wiped out those irritants, but it has definitely kept them pared down. Now, the banana spiders spin their webs on the chain that holds the red swing, or in between the porch railings...both places easy to spray and de-web, unlike the ceiling which requires neck strain and a chair or ladder to spray and de-web.
One theory about why the blue color appears to repel spiders and flying stingers is that they perceive the color as the sky and so build their nests on structures below the surface that is painted blue.
When the tour guide stopped the carriage to point out the blue porches of Charleston, he asked us if we knew the legend behind the color....when no one else raised their hand, I timidly raised mine and said "it keeps the spiders away"....he agreed but added something very interesting....
In Charleston and other southern areas, the blue ceiling was said by the Gooluh community to keep the haints (haunts/ghosts/spirits) away - the theory being that spirits mis-took it for sky and passed on by the house entrance (sound familiar?)- and it was later found that it kept the mud-dobbers away as an added bonus!
Hunter, who swears there are haints in this house (Nikki, whom I believe is a "sensitive" swears there are not, as did my brother Kirk when he first entered our home) is now very happy that his mother did her research and learned about that blue paint! Personally, I feel that any haints that may be in this house are friendly ones - the spirit of Old Mr. Brough who enjoys watching us bring his gardens back to life and his wife, Eleanor who sits sometimes on the front porch rocker and glories in the noise of children once again resounding through the walls and yards.
Whatever our initial reasons for using those two colors and despite the added bonus of keeping the spiders and stingers under control, David and I absolutely love the colors we used on the porch. It defines the space, making it feel part of the house yet fully able to stand on its own as a special place to sit and enjoy our life here surrounded by nature.
Our front porch today - see the new "old" screen door? The banner hanging on the front door signifies that we have an active duty soldier overseas in Afghanistan. Our colors will fly until Darrin returns safely home.
Future plans include adding black shutters to the upper windows!