Art History Resources For Writers: 150 years of Sherman-Williams Paint Colors

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To celebrate their 150th anniversary, Sherman-Williams has created a gallery of their paint colors, sorted by decade, so that as you write, you can see exactly what shade of blue would have been available to your Jazz Age decorator, or what color of purple your mid-century modern housewife’s bathroom would be.

Color Through the Decades also offers short notes on how colors were paired, and the changes in popular colors over time. For example, that Jazz Age decorator would have known that “wall colors were generally light neutrals and greys with accessories and accents in vibrant colors like Chinese Red and Blue Peacock.” Your 50’s housewife would have known that the “exuberant post war boom was a mix of styles with mid-century modern and Scandinavian influences making the most impact. Pastels are the norm with pink and turquoise appliances adorning the kitchen and laundry room. Lilac and Chartreuse are very popular” before choosing how to paint her bathroom.

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The colors we paint our homes says something about the times we lived in. Bookmark this reference now so you’ve got it when you need it later.

8 thoughts on “Art History Resources For Writers: 150 years of Sherman-Williams Paint Colors

  1. I know that sometimes in my writing, I’ll be pouring through pages of pantone names, paints, color wheels, etc. looking for just the right way to describe an exact color… Of course the worst times are when the color name is so obvious and rather bland that I wish the color were named something else even though I’ve found exactly what I was looking for.

    • And of course, even when the names are interesting, you have to decide between using it (though no one would know what you mean) or simply describing the color and skipping the cool name.

  2. Thank you for sharing, this is an excellent resource! ..and that sounds like I’m a bot, but it’s true.

    It also seems really handy for people in design.

  3. This is fabulous info for writing historical fiction, of course, but I love the possibilities it opens up for thinking about small details in worldbuilding elsewhen/where as well.

    • I’m very detail-oriented in my writing, focusing on objects often a bit more than my descriptions of the characters, so these sorts of galleries always fascinate me.

  4. This is one of those things you never think of and then someone does it and you’re like “OH OF COURSE!”

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