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A Brief History of Haint Blue Porches - ORC Week 2

What I learned about the history of haint blue porch ceilings

One of the things I loved about growing up in Louisiana was all of the beautiful old buildings and plantation homes. One of my favorite things is touring plantation homes. They each have their own story and hold so much history. If you've ever been to any older homes anywhere in the south, one thing you might notice is that the ceiling of the porch may be painted a shade of blue. "Haint blue." Why am I blabbering about haint blue porches in the middle of the One Room Challenge? Because haint blue through a bit of a wrench in our plans.

Big thanks to Blindster for sponsoring us in the One Room Challenge!
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Last week, I shared our plans for turning what used to be the farmhouse's original front porch into a playroom for our kids. Someone had closed it in at some point in time, and we had big plans to recreate this space for the One Room Challenge. Here's a refresher of what it looked like...

BEFORE- Follow along as we convert an old front porch turned sun room into a vintage modern schoolhouse themed playroom for the One Room Challenge.

We decided it would be best to work on the ceiling first since it would be the biggest part of the project and would make the most mess. The roof line was sloped, so we hoped to remove the current ceiling and raise it along the roof line to make the room feel larger.

Those ceiling tiles looked like they might possibly contain asbestos, so after doing some research, we ordered this asbestos testing kit and sent it off to a lab. Thankfully, it came back negative!! 🙌 No asbestos!!

So we started pulling the tiles down. They actually come down pretty easily. We started out using a crow bar and then realized we could just pull them down by hand. They are very fibrous, so I do recommend wearing a mask and gloves for this task.

How to remove old ceiling tiles

Under the tiles we found sheets of plywood. Hmm... My husband wanted to stop there and throw up some drywall, but I was determined to get my high ceiling!

So, my husband started ripping away a small section of the plywood with a crowbar. It was tedious work as the layers splintered off bit by bit. Eventually, he had a small enough section out that we could see what was above the plywood.

I was expecting some 2x4s and the rafters along the roof line... well... we found the original "haint blue" front porch ceiling! 😳 This was super exciting to me, to find a little bit of history in our home, but it was also a little bit worrisome that they just covered it up instead of removing it when they closed the porch in.

We found a concealed haint blue porch ceiling in our old farmhouse!

We stopped there because we realized it was very likely lead paint since our house was built in 1930.  We went to Home Depot the next day and picked up a lead paint test kit, and sure enough, it was lead. Bummer.

We decided it would be for the best to let a pro handle the lead abatement since we have two young children and lead dust is extremely dangerous for kids, especially under the age of two. (Read more about the dangers of lead paint here).

So we had a contractor come out to take a look, and they said it would be riskier for our kids to remove it all because the dust would get into the air, so they repaired the plywood and covered it with new drywall to contain the lead.

How to clean up after lead paint abatement

(Notice in the photo above, I took the shot from through the door windows. I didn't want to risk any lead dust getting into our home where our kids are, so the door stayed closed and sealed off with duct tape. You can also see that we duct taped the A/C register vent to prevent it from getting into the air ducts.

Before continuing renovations, we will also be taking some clean up precautions just in case there is any lead dust left in the room. We bought a HEPA filter for our ShopVac, a HEPA rated air purifier, and will wipe everything down with this metal decontamination spray. Lead is serious stuff.)

My dreams of a beautiful sloped ceiling and adding a ceiling light were crushed. But at least we had drywall instead of ugly ceiling tiles. And more importantly, the lead was contained, so our children are safe. We may revisit removing it altogether when they are much older. For now, I will have to find some alternative lighting ideas.

5 Beautiful Haint Blue Porches

So since we didn't actually accomplish anything ourselves this week, I thought it might be fun to dive into the history of haint blue porches and share some beautiful examples!

So what's the story of haint blue?

Well, "haint" is another word for ghost. It's reported that porch ceilings were painted a blue/green color to represent water because evil spirits couldn't pass over water, and therefore the home was protected from the spirits.

I have also read that painting the ceiling blue was said to trick insects into thinking it was the sky, preventing them from building their nests on the porch.

And recently, it seems to be coming back in style. Now that I've discovered haint blue hiding behind our walls, I'm tempted to paint our real front porch! What do you think of this trend? Here's some beautiful ceilings to daydream about while you wait for next week's progress update 😉

5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.
Photo Credit: Blesser House
5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.
Photo Credit: Historical Concepts
5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.
Photo Credit: Ten June Blog

5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.
Photo Credit: For The Love Of A House
5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.
Photo Credit: Unskinny Boppy

Playroom Makeover Progress:

  • Remove ceiling tiles and raise ceiling/add drywall along roof line to make the space feel larger
  • Cover original porch floor boards with vinyl plank flooring
  • Install new floor moldings
  • Install new, safer baseboard heat covers
  • Paint the walls and exterior door
  • Install new, kid-friendly window treatments
  • Install shiplap feature wall
  • Add lighting
  • Create a toy storage solution (tutorial)
  • Install safety features and childproofing measures
  • Decorate with a vintage schoolhouse theme

Thanks to our sponsor!

Big thanks to our sponsor, Blindster. I can't wait to share more about them and the child-safe blinds they carry! Stick around to see them soon!!!

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5 Beautiful examples of haint blue porch ceilings.

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