It is really interesting to consider what colours would have originally been associated with the era in which your home was built. Over the next few weeks I will be looking at the colour palette used by any particular age, st ...
It is really interesting to consider what colours would have originally been associated with the era in which your home was built. Over the next few weeks I will be looking at the colour palette used by any particular age, starting with the Georgian period (1714 – 1837).
Georgian style embraces a century under the reign of four Georges, (and some people tack on that of William IV).
George I 1714 – 1727
George II 1727 – 1760
George III 1760 – 1820
George IV 1820 – 1830
William IV 1830 – 1837
It is often divided into the early, middle and late Georgian periods. The style was partly a reaction to baroque which George I loathed. The three phases of Georgian are a continuum of each other. As the century progressed, the style became lighter and lighter in terms of colours and decoration and eventually became regency style (when George IV was living it up in Brighton waiting for his mad father to die).
George I & II Early Georgian interiors often were panelled in softwood, which was either covered in sumptuous and expensive fabrics in deep colours including burgundy, deep green, blue and yellow, or painted with oil based paints, in a similar range of colours, which allowed for the deep pigmentation which simple distemper could not get at the time. These colours still required several coats, so rooms like this were certainly high status and everyone would have understood the significance of the strong colour as opposed to the more democratic white of cheaply available paint. As plaster became more common walls were also painted various shades of white, sometimes mixed with cinders with contrasting dark woodwork in brown or deep blood red.
George III As the century progressed colours used became progressively lighter. In the mid to late century the popularity of the Grand Tour led to an interest in classical architecture as fed through the sensibility of architects like the golden boy of the era, Robert Adam. Colours like pea green or Wedgwood blue were the things to be painted in – picked out with the whites of the previous era. The concept of colour balance comes to the fore and Adam, Wyatt and others realised that the colours opposite each other on the colour wheel balanced each other and this can be seen as the secret of the harmony they achieved in their colour schemes.
George IV The last George, as regent and then monarch, set fashionable decorating alight – he could not stop and the height of his love of the exotic can be seen in the Brighton Pavilion! This was the era of the specialist house painter and paints were expected to deliver colour as well as the effects of all sorts of rare and costly veneers, marbles and bronze. The mainstream would have adopted the colour palette that came out of this and certain novel colours became fashionable as advances in paint chemistry made them affordable (yellows are the classic example). Rooms were painted more architecturally, as the prevailing sensibility favoured the antique credentials of Grecian rather than Roman culture.
However, his mad-cap style was not to everyone’s taste and the trend for whites, putty colours and pale greys and dusky pink continued.
Many of today’s leading paint manufacturers now produce historic colours helpfully labelled according to the period – you may like to mix it up and put your own personality into your home but it is useful to know the shades which used to be period features.