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Matching History: An Architectural Color Guide


Working on the restoration or re-design of a historic home? Dunn-Edwards® makes matching historic paint colors, from nearly any era, easy with the Then, Now and Forever ® collection of historically accurate residential and commercial colors. Check out this quick architectural color guide below for easy tips.

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Photo Credit: Dunn-Edwards

Historically Accurate Paints
You respect the power of a perfect color whether it be commercial or residential paint. You respect the history of color, too. But choosing the perfect color can sometimes feel overwhelming. Dunn-Edwards Then, Now and Forever ® collection is a veritable architectural color guide. The collection offers 142 historically accurate colors — as well as 158 colors that are trending today and offer a greater range of grays, browns, blues, and oranges. This special collection enables easy color matching of commercial and residential historic structures. You can make history by matching it.

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Photo Credit: STRUKTR Studios

From Spanish Colonial and Arts & Crafts, to the Tudors of 19th-Century Revival and more — this collection offers colors to match the architectural style you’re looking for. In fact, a range of colors from the Then, Now and Forever ® collection are currently on display in the recently renovated historic Pasadena Showcase House, a 1916 English Tudor Revival estate. Curious about our historically accurate Mid-century colors? Grab some color inspiration from the Modernism Week Door Tour or see how we highlighted the the best colors for mid-century enthusiasts in Palm Springs with paint selections for the Desert Eichlers.

So, how do you choose a paint color when working with palettes from history? Here’s a quick reference timeline so you can make the best color decision possible.

Architectural Color Guide Timelines

  • Spanish Colonial: Focused on the color palettes of early California and its missions and adobes, these colors embrace the warmth of the western landscape and pigment found in native art. Click here to find a complete list of Then, Now, and Forever ® Spanish Colonial paint colors.
  • Victorian: Decoration and ornament are key to Victorian architecture. The colors belonging to this palette are no different. Designer and architect Owen Jones helped introduce colors of Moorish influence. Paint colors from exotic locales were hugely influential throughout the Victorian architectural era. Click here to find a complete list of Then, Now, and Forever ® Victorian paint colors.
  • Arts & Crafts: The Arts & Crafts and Craftsman architectural styles epitomized the American Dream. Sprawling front porches act as an extension into nature. And it is nature, in fact, that guides this era’s color palette. Earthy tones like browns and greens dominate. Click here to find a complete list of Then, Now, and Forever ® Arts & Crafts colors.
  • 20th-century Revival: California missions and Spanish architecture again provide inspiration for this color palette. Mineral pigments — as well as memorable hues from the 1915 world’s fair in San Francisco, the Panama–Pacific International Exposition — are key influences with a range of paint colors like warm grays, green and yellow. Click here to find a complete list of Then, Now, and Forever ® 20th-century Revival paint colors.
  • Mid-Century Modern: Pre- and Post-War paint colors are natural earth tones or neutrals, complemented by brightly colored accents. This is not surprising as many modern architects embrace the environment. Additionally, the optimism and building booms of the post-war era, in particular, are key to this bright color palette. Click here to find a complete list of Then, Now, and Forever ® Mid-Century Modern paint colors.

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Photo Credit: Dunn-Edwards

What story will your colors tell? Guided by history, your color is certain to tell a rich one.