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History, Repainted

Dunn-Edwards’s latest paint collection is more than 300 years in the making...

Dunn-Edwards’s latest paint collection is more than 300 years in the making. To gather inspiration for Then, Now & Forever, its first collection of historic colors, the Los Angeles–based company reviewed archived architectural photos of California’s midcentury modern homes, Victorian mansions, and missions, dating as far back as the 17th century.

“There were so many great findings, it was hard to narrow down,” says Sara McLean, Dunn-Edwards’s color expert, who studied hundreds of photographs provided by the Architectural Resources Group—a historical preservation architecture firm in San Francisco—before creating the extensive collection of 300 colors ($42 to $60 per gallon), 142 of which are re-creations of past paint tones from California. Among the oldest colors are orange-toned Presidio Peach, deep tan Prairie Clay, and dusty green Cloistered Garden, all derived from California’s Carmel Mission, built in 1771, and Mission San Miguel in California’s Central Coast, built in 1821.

Though centuries old, the vintage colors are anything but dull. Hundreds of man-hours were spent on researching and creating accurate replications of the original base colors of these historic buildings. “I was surprised at how saturated some of the colors turned out to be after the paint analysis came back. After years of wear and tear, some of the rooms that looked drab took on another life once we realized the initial look was a more vivid, lively hue,” McLean explains.

To help incorporate these colors into the 21st century, McLean and the Dunn-Edwards team also included a new palette of 158 modern shades of grays, browns, blues, and oranges that are not only relevant now, but also pair well with the historic selections. “Today’s designs revolve around a lot of white,” says McLean. “It’s nice to see prior generations weren’t afraid of color.” (dunnedwards.com)

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