Plus, learn why so many are painted blue, especially in the South.
Wooden bench on front porch
Credit: Getty / Evan Sklar

Painted porch ceilings are as southern as ice-cold sweet tea. And if you've ever sipped tea on a southern porch, you may have noticed the playful blue ceiling above you. This unique home detail is a long-standing tradition—one that's been practiced for generations. But it wasn't born out of a popular exterior design trend: Painted porch ceilings are actually rooted in superstition. As the story goes, homeowners would paint these overhangs "haint" blue to scare away spirits that couldn't cross the water-like shade.

Today, families keep the tradition alive, not because they're afraid of ghosts, but because they love the light, airy vibe and interest it lends the entrance of their homes, says Virginia Cheek, interior designer and owner of Virginia Cheek Designs. Plus, it doesn't cost much to execute, and when it's done right, notes Cheek, the colorful ceiling looks like an intentional part of the home's design. "Coordinating the porch ceiling color with furnishings and fabrics creates curb appeal and offers a welcoming spot to unwind with guests," she adds. Ahead, all the ways to make this here-to-stay trend your own.

Work with different colors.

Historically, light blue is the go-to porch ceiling color—and for good reason. It mimics the natural sky and makes a covered porch feel open and inviting. Second to blue is white, which allows homeowners to create seamless look, especially if their walls and trim are already cream-colored (if you choose to go white, select bold furniture and let those details make a splash). However, there isn't a rule that says blue or white are best—it's important to find a shade that speaks to you and your house's locale. Cheek recommends connecting the ceiling's paint color with your surroundings, for example. "In a wooded mountain home, a gray-green color like Benjamin Moore's Army Green (2141-30) would be beautiful," Cheek says. Regardless of the color you choose, it's important to use a high-quality exterior paint; porch ceilings are well-protected from the elements but they are still susceptible to moisture and debris. Tackle the process with the best possible formula and you'll able to enjoy the overhead view for years to come.

Paint the floor, too.

For a cohesive look, paint your porch's floor, as well. Though your floor will likely require more maintenance over time (the space is, of course, a highly-trafficked area and is prone to wear and tear), the result is worth it. Don't want to handle that upkeep? No worries—Cheek actually prefers a more muted, natural look below. "If you're going to paint the ceiling, I'd recommend keeping a natural wood tone on the floor," she suggests. "A painted ceiling with wood floors and white trim is a great combination."

Use plenty of mixed mediums.

Design the rest of your porch the way you would your living room—consider incorporating a rich mix of materials within the space. Combine wood, metal, and wicker outdoor pieces for a collected look; and add a textural rug to anchor the color up above. "A nice outdoor rug can really elevate the look of a porch," Cheek says. "I recommend a durable indoor-outdoor rug that will look great from season to season." Pair the rug and furnishings with a few throw pillows (dressed in durable fabrics) for polish.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
March 16, 2020
About those blue ceilings, probably worthless against “haints”, but wonders against the establishment of hornets’ nests and spider webs! Really works!
Martha Stewart Member
January 20, 2020
I always thought it makes a porch cozy and finished.