Spend a weekend house-hunting in Charleston or strolling the streets of Savannah, and you’ll likely notice that many of the houses – no matter the colors of their shutters, the colors of their front doors, or even the colors of the houses themselves – have one thing in common: a sky-blue porch ceiling.
While the practice is widespread across much of the South and has even made its way beyond the region (after all, who doesn’t want an inviting shade of blue on the front porch?!), the tradition of painting porch ceilings light blue began with the Gullah Geechee communities of coastal South Carolina and Georgia.
The Gullah Geechee people, who were descendants of central and west African slaves, painted their doors, windows frames, shutters, and their porch ceilings blue as a means of protection. They believed that the color would act as a sort of repellant for “haints,” or spirits of the dead, who may try to enter their homes. According to one version of the tradition, the Gullah Geechee people believed that the haints would confuse the color with the sky and would pass right through the porch ceiling, without pausing to disturb the home or its residents. Another version of the tradition explains that the haints were afraid of water and would therefore flee at the sight of the watery hue on the houses.
But if you’re not one for believing in haints, you may still want to paint your porch a nice light blue for a more practical reason: Some say that the color prevents wasps from building nests.
We’re not much for haints or wasps, so we’ll take our chances with a picture-perfect shade of blue instead. Here, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best shades of haint blue to paint your porch, whether you live in the South or just wish you did.