20th Century Paint Palette

Guide to Color, Styles, and Architectural Periods

This guide provides expanded recommendations for selecting appropriate paint colors from the 20th Century Colors of America palette. The first section identifies colors on the basis of architectural style and period. The second section includes room-by-room listings indicating period preferences on the use of colors in interior settings and the third section lists period preferences for color use on exterior siding, trim, and accents.

We have also included a Methodology section that describes the sources from which these colors were drawn and how the paint palette was developed.

The twentieth-century paint palette represents a high standard of authenticity and documentation in historically-appropriate paint color. All color selections for the palette were made from paint and/or wallpaper colors either present in twentieth-century Historic New England properties or documented as originally intended for decorative use in twentieth-century building interiors and exteriors.

The recommendations contained herein do not necessarily represent documented applications of paint colors in Historic New England properties nor have the colors been authenticated for use in specific period or stylistic applications by Historic New England; all color selections should be sampled in situ before a final selection is chosen.

20th_century_colors_-_1148_x_609

Uses of Internal and External Color by Period

Historic New England museum colors are indicated in bold

Arts and Crafts: 1900-1920

Interior:
Ballroom Blue, Beauport Green, Belfry Green, Bronzed Plate, Call of the Wild, Century Beige, Clam Shell, Combustion, Concord Bloom, Cozy Bungalow, Craftsman Gold, Garden Terrace, Glass Art, Green Glass, Guilded Copper, Guilded White, Ivory Cottage, Jukebox, Mid-Century White, Mission Oak, Natural Wood, Neutral Era, North Gallery, North Pole, Precious Stone, Rambler, Relative White, Reviving White, Rooftop, Rosy Opal, Rustic Green, Sea Oats, Seascape Jade, Sleeper’s Entry, South Gallery, Stickley Straw, Strong Punch, Stylized White, Wheatgrass, Wicker Basket
Exterior:

Bronzed Plate, Call of the Wild, Century Beige, Clam Shell, Classical Shutter, Eclectic Trim, Enamel Blue, Fahrenheit, Garnet, Glass Art, Guilded White, Heart of Darkness, Ivory Cottage, Jukebox, Mid-Century White, Mission Oak, Neutral Era, North Gallery, Precious Stone, Rambler, Relative White, Reviving White, Rooftop, Rustic Green, Sea Oats, Sleeper’s Entry, Stickley Straw, Strong Punch, Stylized White, University Square, Wheatgrass, Wicker Basket
Note: colors in italics are for use on doors, window sash, and/or shutters

Art Deco and Art Moderne: 1920-1940

Interior:
Art Deco, Bauhaus, Bold Backdrop, Brown Sugar, Crystalline, Dust Bowl, Earhart, Electric Grid, Glove White, Golden Age, Gropius White, Inlaid Wood, Lady’s Glove, Little’s Landmark, Modern Elegance, New World, Parlor Shade, Post and Beam, Pristine Pink, Sensible White, Sharkskin, Speakeasy, Stainless Steel, Suntan, Tangerine Burst, Serene Scholar
Exterior:

Authentic Brown, Bold Backdrop, Classic Shutter, Dust Bowl, Eclectic Trim, Emerald City, Fold Art, Garnet, Gatsby Gold, Glove White, Golden Age, Gropius White, Inlaid Wood, Jazz Age, Little’s Landmark, New World, Orange Revival, Parlor Shade, Post and Beam, Pristine Pink, Pure Restoration, Sensible White, Sharkskin, Spiral Staircase, Suntan, Urban Brick

Mid-Century Modern: 1940-1960

Interior:
Automotive, Baby Boom, Beatnik, Casablanca, Clare Rose, Conservative, Construction Boom, Fahrenheit, Greenberg, Hot Tin Roof, Industrial Steel, Modern White, Organic White, Post War White, Precious Stone, Radio Wave, Science Fiction, Social Norm, Sock Hop, Sunny Day, Teal Accent, War Weary, Wheatgrass, Wonderful Life
Exterior:

Authentic Brown, Automotive, Emerald City, Fold Art, Gatsby Gold, Jazz Age, Modern White, Orange Revival, Organic White, Post War White, Precious Stone, Radio Wave, Sock Hop, Spiral Staircase, Sunny Day, Suntan, Teal Accent, Urban Brick, War Weary, Wheatgrass

Postmodern: 1960-1980

Interior:
Age of Youth, Aluminum Blue, Apollo White, Draft Card, Earth Day, Free Time, Green Leisure, Groovy Gold, Moon Landing, Mystique, Peace Core, Peace and Love, Peach Preference, Peyton Place, Pop Art, Post Modern, Skyscraper, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, Time Honored, University Square, Urban Prosperity
Exterior:

Age of Youth, Aluminum Blue, Counter Culture, Draft Card, Earthy Day, Free Time, Green Leisure, Groovy Gold, Moon Landing, Mystique, Peace Cor, Peach Preference, Peyton Place, Pop Art, Post Modern, Skyscraper, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, University Square, World Peace

Period Preferences for Paint Color Usage

Listed by Room

Arts and Crafts: 1900-1920

Baths: Cozy Bungalow, Garden Terrace, Guilded White, Ivory Cottage, Mid-Century White, Porcelain, Relative White, Stylized White
Bedrooms: Ballroom Blue, Cozy Bungalow, Garden Terrace, Ivory Cottage, Porcelain, Rosy Opal, Seascape Jade
Dining Rooms: Beauport Green, Bronzed Plate, Call of the Wild, Fahrenheit, Garnet, Glass Art, Heart of Darkness, Jukebox, Natural Wood, North Pole, Rustic Green, Strong Punch
Kitchens: Guilded White, Ivory Cottage, Mid-Century White, Precious Stone, Relative White, Reviving Whilte, Sea Oats, Sleeper’s Entry, Stickley Straw, Stylized White, Wicker Basket
Living Rooms/Stairhalls:Bronzed Plate, Call of the Wild, Craftsman Gold, Glass Art, Guilded Copper, Jukebox, Mission Oak, Natural Wood, Precious Stone, Rambler, Rustic Green, Sea Oats, Sleeper’s Entry, Stickley Straw, Wheatgrass, Wicker Basket

Art Deco and Art Moderne: 1920-1940

Baths:Art Deco, Bauhaus, Crystalline, Earhart, Electric Grid, Glove White, Gropius White, Inlaid Wood, Lady’s Glove, Modern Elegance, New World, Post and Beam, Pristine Pink, Sensible White, Speakeasy, Stainless Steel, Suntan, Tangerine Burst
Bedrooms: Bauhaus, Bold Backdrop, Crystalline, Dust Bowl, Earhart, Electric Grid, Golden Age, Lady’s Glove, Modern Elegance, New World, Parlor Shade, Post and Beam, Pristine Pink, Speakeasy, Suntan
Dining Rooms: Bold Backdrop, Brown Sugar, Dust Bowl, Fold Art, Inlaid Wood, Little’s Landmark, New World, Post and Beam, Serene Scholar
Kitchens: Earhart, Glove White, Golden Age, Gropius White, Lady’s Glove, Post and Beam, Pristine Pink, Sensible White, Sharkskin, Stainless Steel, Suntan
Living Rooms/Stairhalls: Bauhaus, Brown Sugar, Dust Bowl, Emerald City, Fold Art, Gatsby Gold, Inlaid Wood, Little’s Landmark, New World, Parlor Shade, Post and Beam, Serene Scholar, Sharkskin, Stainless Steel, Suntan

Mid-Century Modern: 1940-1960

Baths: Automotive, Baby Boom, Clare Rose, Construction Boom, Conservative, Modern White, Teal Accent, Wonderful Life
Bedrooms: Casablanca, Clare Rose, Conservative, Construction Boom, Organic White, Social Norm, Sunny Day, Wonderful Life
Dining Rooms: Casablanca, Conservative, Social Norm, War Weary
Kitchens: Baby Boom, Hot Tin Roof, Modern White, Radio Wave, Sock Hop, Sunny Day, Teal Accent, Wonderful Life
Living Rooms/Stairhalls: Beatnik, Casablanca, Construction Boom, Greenberg, Hot Tin Roof, Industrial Steel, Modern White, Organic White, Post War White, Science Fiction, Social Norm, Sock Hop, Teal Accent, War Weary
Note: colors in italics are for accent walls

Postmodern: 1960-1980

Baths: Aluminum Blue, Free Time, Green Leisure, Peach Preference, Pop Art, Post Modern, Skyscraper, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, Time Honored, Urban Prosperity
Bedrooms: Aluminum Blue, Apollo White, Clare Rose, Conservative, Draft Card, Free Time, Green Leisure, Peace Core, Skyscraper, Social Norm, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, Sunny Day, Time Honored, Wonderful Life
Dining Rooms: Apollo White, Draft Card, Peace Core, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, Time Honored
Kitchens: Counter Culture, Earth Day, Groovy Gold, Moon Landing, Mystique, Peace & Love, Pop Art, Post Modern, Soft Rock, Summer Haze, Time Honored
Living Rooms/Stairhalls: Apollo White, Authentic Brown, Draft Card, Dust Bowl, Groovy Gold, Inlaid Stone, Organic White, Peyton Place, Serene Scholar, University Square

270686_-_471_x_360Period Preferences for Exterior Color Use

Arts and Crafts: 1900-1920

Exterior Siding: Beauport Green, Mission Oak, Natural Wood, North Gallery, Precious Stone, Rambler, Rooftop, Rustic Green, Seal Oats, South Gallery, Wicker Basket
Exterior Trim: Century Beige, Clam Shell, Ivory Cottage, Natural Wood, Neutral Era, North Gallery, Precious Stone, Reviving White, Rooftop, Rustic Green, Sea Oats, Sleeper’s Entry, South Gallery, Stickley Straw, University Square, Wheatgrass, Wicker Basket

Art Deco and Art Moderne: 1920-1940

Exterior Siding: Authentic Brown, Bold Backdrop, Brown Sugar, Fold Art, Gatsby Gold, Glove White, Golden Age, Grant’s Guest, Gropius White, Little’s Landmark, Post and Beam, Pure Restoration, Sensible White, Serene Scholar, Stainless Steel, Suntan, Urban Brick
Exterior Trim: Bauhaus, Century Beige, Dust Bowl, Emerald City, Glove White, Gropius White, Inlaid Wood, Jazz Age, Neutral Era, Sensible White, Sharkskin, Spiral Staircase, Stainless Steel
Note: colors in italics are for sash, doors, shutters, and accents

Mid-Century Modern: 1940-1960

Exterior Siding: Authentic Brown, Bold Backdrop, Brown Sugar, Fold Art, Gatsby Gold, Glove White, Gropius White, Little’s Landmark, Post and Beam, Pure Restoration, Sensible White, Serene Scholar, Stainless Steel, Suntan, Urban Brick, War Weary
Exterior Trim: Bauhaus, Beatnik, Casablanca, Century Beige, Dust Bowl, Glove White, Greenberg, Gropius White, Hot Tin Roof, Inlaid Wood, Jazz Age, Modern White, Neutral Era, Orange Revival, Organic White, Post War White, Radio Wave, Science Fiction, Sensible White, Sharkskin, Sock Hop, Spiral Staircase, Stainless Steel, Teal Accent
Note: colors in italics are for sash, doors, shutters, and accents

Postmodern: 1960-1980

Exterior Siding: Age of Youth, Bold Backdrop, Brown Sugar, Earth Day, Groovy Gold, University Square, War Weary
Exterior Trim: Apollo White, Century Beige, Counter Culture, Draft Card, Hot Tin Roof, Modern White, Neutral Era, Organic White, Post War White, Science Fiction, Soft Rock, World Peace
Note: colors in italics are for sash, doors, shutters, and accents

Color Sources and Methodology

Purpose: to provide paint users with historically documented twentieth-century paint color choices from colors drawn from period architectural sources representing the major color trends from 1900 to 1980.
Methodology:
The twentieth-century paint palette provides a range of colors drawn from four major sources in the Historic New England architectural collections. These include:

Interior and exterior paint colors were visually matched and optically scanned (using a California Paints “Matchmaker” Color-Helper handheld scanner manufactured by Color Savvy Systems Limited) on site at Beauport, Cogswell’s Grant, and Gropius House under natural, daylight conditions and corroborated with file documentation where microscopic paint analysis for these properties was available. Interior and exterior colors for paint colors that had not been microscopically analyzed were visually matched and optically scanned on site in daylight. Documentary and archival paint colors in ephemera and trade publications were visually matched and optically scanned for correlation with present day paint colors. While archival materials were not light bleached to correct chemical shifts over time, they were correlated to period color matches in other media. Archival colors were visually matched and optically scanned in daylight.

Matches provided a master list of 530 “twentieth-century” colors from which California Paint Products selected and named the 118 colors and twelve whites that form the 20th Century Colors of America paint palette.

More to Explore

Buy a copy of the 20th Century Colors of America paint chart.

Learn More

Become a Historic Homeowner member and get access to expert advice.

Learn More

Visit Historic New England's museum properties.

Learn More