Learn about the origins of popular home styles
In the home shown here, the original box beam ceilings were revealed when drywall was removed. The buffet and flanking windows were original, but new leaded-glass cabinet doors were added by a craftsperson.
Artifacts you find in your attic, shed or yard can also provide clues about the people who once lived in your home. Exposed lumber in the attic or crawl space may show markings that can help identify your home as a kit house, for example, or provide clues about your home's age.
But the most helpful pace of all may be your local library! In this age of digital information, it's almost shocking to realize that some information is actually easier to find in person. Old town records, original photographs of homes, historical maps and relevant newspaper articles are all items that can be tracked down with help from your local reference librarian.
Try your local historical society, too. An active historical society can have a wealth of information on homes in the area. Many of these societies do not keep an office with regular hours, so try emailing or calling the contact person, who will probably be happy to help.
A few you might find helpful:
- Benjamin Moore, which has a comprehensive historic color collection covering a range of architectural styles
- Sherwin-Williams, which has both interior and exterior paint colors for a wide range of American architectural styles
- Fine Paints of Europe, which carries high-pigment-content paints in historic hues
- Farrow & Ball, which has historic paints and papers
Of course, while Sears was one of the most popular, it was not the only manufacturer of kit houses — see Kit Houses Stand the Test of Time for more info on kit homes.