This palette from Sally Zimmerman, manager of historic preservation services for Historic New England and author of Painting Historic Exteriors, evokes the simple colors of the earth. “The reds during the Colonial period are rust-based,” explains Zimmerman. Iron oxide imbued reddish tones into paint. This red graces the island and hutch, as it might have during the Colonial period. “It was not uncommon for painted furniture to imitate more colorful or more expensive woods than the actual wood used to construct the piece,” says Zimmerman. Painted furniture, both then and now, adds color and style to the kitchen.
The Colonial period did not feature the bright greens we know today. While homes of the wealthy featured brilliant green paints made from rare sources, most greens were fabricated with alternate means for a less vivid finish. Most often green was created by either mixing yellow ochre with soot or oxidizing copper. The results were more often a pea soup color, as compared to their vivid verdant contemporaries. The alcove in this kitchen features Boardman, a dark green that shares those same muted tones.
For a lighter and more modern take on the American Colonial palette, Heidi Pribell of Heidi Pribell Interiors suggests choosing one traditional colonial color as the basis of the palette. In this scheme, Pribell chose a robin’s egg blue as the historic anchor for the other hues. Painted on the hutch and kitchen island, the robin’s egg blue recalls the popular colonial color Prussian blue, which colonialists believed warded off flies and other pests.
For a brighter and warmer take on American Colonial palettes, Pribell again focused on the kitchen island and hutch cabinet. Inspired by the warm hues of unfinished pottery, she selected Coral Serenade for the island and hutch, then chose other light warm colors to complement it. Like the bright robin’s egg blue of the third palette, this coral color would have been an expensive paint for colonialists and would have been used primarily on furniture pieces as a lavish accent.