The Great Divide – What happened to colours in 1900?

New houses, of course, would follow the new paint trends. But paint colours on existing houses also were influenced by the new fashion. The very same house would – after 1900 – sport its new ‘reversed’ finery.

A home built in the 1890’s, with the prevailing paint scheme of a mid-tone body colour and darker trim boards and pale sash.

The same house in 1913. The colours have been reversed. Still sporting a mid-tone body colour, the house now has pale trim boards and dark painted window sash (and a new chimney).

The homes of the early 20th century relied on the old white pigments – white lead, zinc white, and lithopone – for white paints.

Not until 1916 did technology allow a denser, white pigment with better coverage and durability. In 1916, the Titanium Pigment Corporation of Niagara Falls, New York and the Titan Co. AS, of Norway simultaneously began commercial production of this new white pigment.

A grand Colonial Revival style house, c 1905, in its fashionable post-1900 colours of a pale cream-gold body and pale cream or white trim. Shutters and sash were dark green.

In the 1920’s, this new white paint gained popularity in interiors as well, and aided the fashion for the “white enamel” paint decoration in kitchens and bathrooms that were touted as being “clean and hygenic”, as the rooms not only looked clean, but could be washed as well.

A colour card from 1912. Overall, a predominately lighter colour palette is evident, with darker tones that would be reserved for trim work.

Once again, changing technology influenced the way we live, and the colours of our lives.

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