The Magic of a Beautiful Victorian Painted Lady

I have had the pleasure of judging the Chicago Paint and Coatings Painted Ladies contest for the last 17 years. For the most part the homes themselves have remained the same while the colors that adorn them have changed quite a bit. Each has a unique look, some have been refurbished and many have interesting stories about how they were painted. The contest is open to non professional and the more common professional painters. But it is the stories from the non professional homeowners that interest me. Of course you hear the stories of near divorces, financial issues and even some broken bones, but all it all the contestants say it was worth the time and expense.

Please open this PDF to see the beautiful Painted Ladies of Chicago! Click Here

I thought it would be interesting to talk about the colors on the homes and why it made them winners. The first house as far as Victorians go is a simpler one. It is painted in medium lavender with a similar value of gray and large trim in white. This alone would make it a monochromatic except that it also has a small band of deep green as a complement. I think it is beautiful in its simplicity; it is not daring as far as Victorians go, but it does stand out in its neighborhood as a gentle lady. (Picture 1)

Home #2 has some interesting levels and trim that were highlighted with a deeper shade of beige with the body in medium value beige.  The small details were painted in several bright colors that coordinate with the simple beige of the exterior.

Home #3 has a real presence with its large wraparound porch and beautiful turrets. It is also painted in medium Lavender with white trim. The corbels and fascia detail include a shade of gray to tie them into the roof color and highlight them.

Home #4 uses a complementary color scheme of various shades of orange and peach with a soft green body color and deeper version as trim on the windows. A bright yellow orange highlights the upper most peak with small detail painted to add to the festive palette. This home stands proud in its urban neighborhood.

House #5 is the brightest combination of colors in the contest. It has a unique blend of bright blue green with deep red and yellow accents. The white background makes the trim colors stand out and underscore the size of the home and its grand entrance.

House #6 is a more subdued combination of colors. A deep slate blue on the upper story contrasts against the deep rose o the bottom. A sunburst shape accent at the peak of the house is painted in alternate hues as a decoration.

House #7 is the only brick home in the contest. It is a bed and breakfast with more rooms than most Victorians. It is painted a simple shade of cream with white trim that minimizes its size. There are small details near the roofline and around some windows in rust and deep moss green.

House #8 has accents around the windows in two colors to accentuate those details. The body is in a muted green and a lighter muted green. There are also details in the pillars that were painted in the brighter orange and red orange.

House #9 is not even a house, it is a train station. The green gray appearance of the roof is highlighted by the red shade beiges and browns on the building itself. The complementary color scheme is perfect for the quaint, in service rail stop.

The last photo is of a gazebo that has an interesting story. It was salvaged from a burned out church and moved to the residence; a painted ladies winner in a past year. The homeowner painted it in his garage only to find out he couldn’t get it out and had to cut it in half. It was raised by a crane to the rooftop and is painted in a whimsical pattern of oranges, plums and browns befitting its storied history.

This year’s contest had more green and orange combinations than in the past and less pink than I had seen in years.  Of course, these homes do not have to follow and rules of color or are they judged for authenticity as that is not the goal. We look for homes that use paint to beautify and the craftsmanship of the painters. If a customer wants to make a statement this is a perfect place to start.

Pat Verlodt

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