Jun 24, 2015

I'm Going to Paint the Porch Ceiling 'Haint Blue'

I've been debating painting the porch ceiling blue.  I'm not superstitious.  I do however have several things that I won't talk about for fear others will think I'm crazy.  I'm not of course but strange things do happen around me, my family, our homes always seem to be built near some type of graveyard that people years before have either covered over or moved (I hope).
Family members in the past have spoken of "Haints" and I always thought their tales were very interesting.  Maybe I'll tell some of them one day.  Haints, you know ghosts, haunts etc.  In the old days people thought there were certain things you could do to keep the haints away from your home.
Great Aunt Luna and Uncle Mac lived in Charleston and the tales they and my Grandma Cora told about haints were quite interesting.
I tell you all of this to say I'm gonna do it, paint the Hibiscus House Porch Ceiling "Haint Blue".  Join me today as I discuss some of the history behind this Southern Tradition.....

Southern Living

Haint Blue

Blue porch ceilings are prevalent all throughout the South, Pale blue is not only visually expansive, but it's also a ghost buster of sorts.  The Gullah culture of the lowcountry believes that spirits, known as 'haints,' can't cross water.  Using light blue paint to symbolize water, the Gullah people applied the shade to porch ceilings and doors preventing evil spirits from entering.
Though we aren't sure how effective paint can be against bad spirits, we can't resist the Gullah look.  The calming shade of blue adds both culture and charm to porch ceilings.  We also love to bring it inside to interior ceilings!

Sherwin Williams

Gullah Museum 



From Gullah folklore come tales of Hags and Haints.  Hags are witches who live normal lives during the day but by night they shed their skin and haunt people in their sleep.  Haints are spirits of the dead.  The origin of the word "haint" comes from the Gullah culture that referred to evil spirits as haints which is thought to have a dialectic connection to the word "haunt".  The color Haint Blue or Gullah Blue was first used in Charleston in the early 1800s.  The Gullah believed that by painting their porch ceilings, doors, window frames and shutters haint blue, the evil spirits would be fooled into perceiving it to be the sky.  It was thought that by tricking the spirits, it would cause them to rise through the ceiling and back into the sky where they could no longer harm the home owners.  Many private homes in urban Charleston as well as popular restaurants in the city incorporate the haint blue ceilings of their porches.

I took this picture on one of our Charleston trips and I do love the Sweet Grass Baskets!
Charleston Market Sweetgrass Baskets
The Origin of Sweetgrass Baskets

 Pool Blue  SW 6944
Sherwin Williams

The Whys Behind the Blue Porch Ceiling
Sherwin Williams click here
 Constellation  AF 540
Benjamin Moore

Atmospheric SW 6505
Sherwin Williams

Things to Consider When Painting Outside Surfaces:

1.  With natural light colors seem to get washed out, so there is a little room to go darker than indoors just not too dark.

2.  If you do go too dark it will make your area seem too small and crowded even outdoors.  Go softer, lighter for a more open feel.

3.  You will want a color that will go with the style of your home.  If it is a traditional home you would want a softer blue.  A more modern home could go with a deeper more vibrant blue.

4.  The blue is used as a trick to extend the daylight .  Blue is a calming color so that is a plus.

Charleston Haint Blue

Haint Blue Colors

The Insect Myth ( I hope it keeps the bugs away!)

It is said that the older milk paints were made with lye and that kept the insects, spiders, bugs, wasps, mosquitoes and birds away.  The blue fooled them into thinking it was the sky. 

I do love the birds that nest on our porch because they are Chimney Sweeps and keep a lot of the mosquito population down.  That would be disappointing if it kept them away.  I hope it doesn't.

Mama used to sit on the porch and swat wasps because they were so bad.  To tell you the truth the wasp population has been down ever since then.  I think she must be still swatting them even from Heaven!  I certainly hope the blue paint keeps them away.

As for the Haints hope it keeps the evil ones away but the good ones continue to visit.....

I'll let you know which color I decide on and have before and after pictures when finished.  It will be great for a little change and I can't wait.  Do you have a favorite blue color from the chart above? Please let me know if you do.

We have a new Haint Blue Porch Ceiling!  Check it out!


  1. We ALMOST did this to our porches but we can't paint, the ceilings are covered in vinyl. Our house is a reproduction of a home from the 1700s from Beaufort NC by William Poole called the Beaufort. We changed the inside floor plan, incorporating the back porch into the living room since it faced South and the front porches were shady. We also eliminated the downstairs bath where it is on the plan and moved it to an area off the garage rather than in the middle of the living/dining area. I learned about these porches when I visited Charleston and loved, loved, loved the idea. Someday I'll tell you about the "unusual" things that have happened here. From what I understand from our priest the area was used in the Civil War. We're not the only ones to have had strange things show up. But, another time not so public or they will put me away!! I can't wait to see how it turns out. Here is the plan version of our place, but again, we made changes.http://www.williampoole.com/plans/Beaufort

    1. Oh how I love your home! I really like the way your changed the plan also! I know it is beautiful and it looks so grand! You and I could maybe write a book on strange things happening. I know we could. I like you only tell certain ones and know they think I'm crazy. This past week Philly told me "Mimi there is someone upstairs....Do you hear it?" I said oh it's nothing.. I hope to do this soon..I'll repost before and afters...I love that you shared all of this and you and I must talk privately about our 'haint' stories!...lol

  2. We do that here in the Midwest,. too, Dolly in the historical sections. I have heard that my whole life, too. Many people in the deep south paint their doors a more vibrant blue to ward off evil spirits, too. Have fun painting. Love to you- xo Diana

    1. I'll bet those are beautiful homes. I read where all over they've been doing that for years. I just never paid it much attention and then the other day I thought I would like to do that. Thank you Diana..when I get 5 minutes I'm going to be reading that book of yours because I know it will be great!...Love ya xoxox

  3. What a great post of fun information. I can't wait to see what you do.

    1. Thank you! Hey Kim I'm trying to decide on the blue color...so many colors out there it can be mind boggling..

  4. I have just "come upon" your blog and love it! I, too, am Southern born and have lived for 70 years in Arkansas. Can't imagine living anywhere on earth except maybe another Southern state. We paint ceilings blue here , too, but along with keeping haints away it also keeps wasps and birds from building nests. I had a wren that built a nest every year until I painted the ceiling blue. From that point on no bird nest and no wasps. Then again, no haints either! Looking forward to reading old posts and new ones!

    1. Hi Claire,
      I'm so happy to have you here! Arkansas, a state that I have always wanted to visit. You make it sound just wonderful. I love the birds and miss them but don't miss the mess they brought with them to the porch. I still do love the blue it is such a restful color. I'll be you have one beautiful home.
      Thank you for writing to let me know of your visit, and please come again.