Paint Colors used in the Restoration

Below is a list of the colors used for the Restoration of the Montpelier Mansion.  All of the colors, except for the fence paint, are based on surviving samples of Madison’s original c. 1812 paint.  Dr. Susan Buck, the paint conservator who sampled the paint, first used a colorimeter to obtain a CIE L*a*b* notation (CIE L*a*b* color system closely represents human sensitivity to color and approximates perceived color differences. L* is the lightness variable; a* and b* are the chromaticity coordinatesi).  After the CIE notation was determined she then matched the color to the closest commercial match for reference purposes.  However, when it came time to grind the paint that was to be used in the mansion, Dr. Buck gave the paint grinders a sample color taken from a more accurate Munsell color system.  These Munsell chips were then used to match the exact color of the original Madison paint.  Modern acrylic paints (Sherwin-Williams “Duration”) were used for the exterior trim.  The columns and releaving arches above the wing cellar windows and doors were finished with a lime-based whitewash.  The white interior walls and ceilings are also finished with a traditional lime-base whitewash.

Below is a list of all the paints used on the mansion including period names for the colors when applicable (found after the name of the architectural element) as well as the closest commercial match.

Interior Paints

Trim: Cream or Buff

CIE L*a*b Match:  L*76.26 a*-.857  b*+14.22

Best Commercial Match: Pratt and Lambert Williamsburg Color Collection #704

Baseboards: Gray

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*49.08 a*- 0.86 b*+3.08

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-167 “Amherst gray”

Interior Doors: Yellow Ocher

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*60.44 a*+8.52 b*+36.30

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #2165-30 “Golden Retriever”

Dr. Buck also found that the yellow interior doors were coated with a varnish in Madison’s period and so the yellow interior doors have also been varnished.

Wall Color in North Wing Room (M-100): Ocher Distemper

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*55.92 a*+7.96 b*+31.25

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore # AC-9 “nugget”(Flat)

Wall Color in North Passage (Upper and Lower) and Large Bedroom: Ocher Distemper

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*65.17 a*+3.95 b*+29.57

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore # 2161-40 “acorn yellow” (Flat)

Mother Madison’s Best Room Closet: Prussian Blue

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*52.93 a*-5.89 b*-14.25

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-151 “Buckland Blue”


North Cellar Kitchen (Dolley’s Kitchen) Trim: Gray

CIE L*a*b* Match: L*46.00 a*+0.60 b*+9.33

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore HC-103 “Cromwell Gray”

South Cellar Kitchen Trim: Gray

CIE L*a*b* Match: L* 64.25 a*-0.48 b*+8.83

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore HC-105 “Rockport Gray”

Southwest Bedroom Door: Chocolate

CIE L*a*b* Match:

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-64 “Townsend Harbor Brown”

Exterior Paints

Exterior Trim: Buff or Stone

CIE L*a*b* Match: L76.50, a-.33, b +10.46

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #OC-11 “Clay Beige”

Brown Exterior Doors: Brown

CIE L*a*b* Match: L45.00 a+5.56 b+17.72

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #HC-73 “Plymouth Brown”

Wing Decking: Spanish Brown

CIE L*a*b* Match: Sample degraded and a only a visual match was made

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore “Country Redwood” Exterior Ready-mixed

Portico Ceiling Paint: Cream

CIE L*a*b* Match: L89.34 a-3.25 b+9.17

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #OC-135 “cream cloak”

Shutters: Verdgris

The shutters were originally painted with a pigment derived from oxidized-copper called verdigris.  Since verdigris is not a stable color (it darkens to an almost black color over time) it is impossible to color match it.  To replicate the color Dr. Susan Buck hand-mixed a replica verdigris paint using the different types of pigments she found in Madison-era shutter paint and we matched a color to the replicated paint.

Best Commercial Match: Pratt and Lambert Williamsburg Color Collection CW 423 “Buffet Green”

Fence: Invisible Green

No surviving evidence and color approximates a color called “Invisible Green” during the restoration period.

Best Commercial Match: Benjamin Moore #2041-10 “Hunter Green”

22 Responses to Paint Colors used in the Restoration

  1. Sandy Fireoved says:

    I didn’t see the color for the exterior front doors only the color of the interior doors. Is it the same as the exterior front doors? Thank you for your quick reply.

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