Historic Paint colors of Charleston chart Rainbow Row on East Bay was named for the patently obvious. With each terraced home a vibrant color and each selected seemingly at random by the owner, it has all the appearance of an impressionists rainbow. Charleston SC celebrates its hospitable, sunny climate with a burst of color on every street and down every lane and alley. The historic nature of Charleston and the dedicated work of a small group of preservationists mean that the list of “approved ” exterior finishes and colors in use downtown on the peninsula are regulated and require approval. So, if you are completing that renovation or moving into a new home, just where do you find the right advice? 

Historic Charleston Foundation provides great guidance on the colors that will always be accepted downtown in neighborhoods under the jurisdiction of the Board of Architectural Review (BAR).  Colors are available in most paint types, however if you are using lime wash it may have a reduced palette set.  One advantage of lime wash though, is its tendency to fluoresce in bright sunlight providing a rich, layered shade that changes from dawn through dusk. Have a look at our own bright orange building at 95 Broad Street to see what I mean. 

HCF offers two paint guides,  “Colors of Historic Charleston ”  and “Carolina Low Country Collection “  Both are available through Sherwin Williams who can provide a color sample booklet for the Colors of Historic Charleston.  The first represents those colors that can be found around the historic areas downtown and the second for the wider reaches of the coastal lowcountry. Note though, that the intent is not to exclude other equally good local suppliers, we just use Sherwin Williams a lot on our own projects. 

What you get is a cornucopia of colors from the muted earth-based pallet of the Georgian period through to the Victorian vibrancy resulting from the availability of more modern aniline dyes. They compliment each other, can be used inside and out and most importantly will not get you into too much trouble with any application to the BAR.  Our own preference is to go for either a matte or eggshell finish, as again it reflects the historic nature of our work avoiding the high gloss of modern formulations. Eggshell is especially good on the exterior and tends to attract less dirt than matte.  

We are completing three houses in Elliotborough at the time of writing.  1 Todd, 64 Ashe and 118 Line St.  All have been treated to hand-crimped standing seam metal roofs in silver Galvalume.  It’s a great product and will last beyond a  lifetime.  Available in a host of colors, though my personal favorite is silver.  So whatever we go for had better work with silver as a complimentary color. Our exterior paint selections are currently as follows: We have gone for Oyster Shell for the exterior siding and trim (DCR116), Antique Pewter (DCR057) for the piazza floors and stucco foundations.  Piazza Blue (of course! DCR075) for the piazza ceilings and a cherry wood stain for the street door.  We think it will work well, modern and historic at the same time. 

Note:  “Blue ” has a place in Charleston folklore.  Sometimes called “Haint Blue ” It’s used on piazza ceilings to imitate the sky and keep insects from settling.  It’s also used on Freedmans cottages for its long-held belief that it wards off evil.  Luxury Simplified Construction has performed renovations throughout downtown Charleston that perfectly resonate the importance of choosing historically significant paint colors that reflect the Charleston Single vernacular and reflects an authentic Charleston palette. Have a look at some of our recent projects …

Luxury Simplified Renovations Charleston SC

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