There seems to be a popular misconception that yellow is not a traditional or correct color for historic houses. As this selection of images painted or printed between 1824 and 1926 clearly shows, that is wrong. Whether or not it suits your taste in the 21st century, it was historically a popular exterior paint color and yellow paint is historically appropriate.
These images show yellow as a commonly used exterior paint color for houses in various styles from the colonial period onward. Yellow ochre is an earth pigment that was widely available and affordable during the 18th century. Brighter shades like chrome yellow became available in the 1820s. Synthetic yellow pigments were available by the late 19th century.
19th-century paintings, architectural publications, paint company advertising, and early 20th-century paintings by artists like Edward Hopper are useful sources for understanding historic paint schemes.
The subject of appropriate color schemes for historic houses of all eras is discussed in “Restoring Your Historic House, The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners,” including additional resources for researching historic paint schemes.
Signed and personalized copies of the award-winning and bestselling 720-page hardcover book are available from the author in our online shop, YourHistoricHouse.com/shop/.
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© Scott T. Hanson 2023
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