On Trend: Bold and Black Exterior House Color
All-black and coal-gray exteriors make a nonconformist statement on homes of any style and size
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How do you get a small, nondescript structure to seem bigger than life and ooze urban cool? The answer is to paint it all black, like edgy designers and real estate developers in L.A. and elsewhere are doing. If you really want to get your house noticed and tongues wagging all over the neighborhood, it's a sure-fire trick.
When you strip the structure of distractions like coordinating trim color to body color, the eye is forced to focus on the design. When that design is a good modern one, the effect of an all-black exterior is minimalist and clean. Quite the wow factor.
Proposing an all-black exterior can be a little Stephen King scary for homeowners, and even designers. Breaking it up with white highlighting and a brightly hued front door helps the house get a warmer reception.
This Victorian in San Francisco, designed by Envelope A+D, may have launched the black house trend as early as 2007. It garnered much attention when it was completed and showed the world that black exteriors, trim and all, were exciting and edgy — not frightening.
The surprisingly small Clipper Residence looks grand in all black. The modern frosted-glass garage door and bright blue entry counterbalance the black facade, and add back the architectural details that got lost in the paint. This original design has spawned quite a few copies in San Francisco's Victorian neighborhoods.
The team behind Better Shelter in Los Angeles has this formula down to a science. They know how to transform a disastrous foreclosure in an underserved area into one of the hottest properties in the city. How better do you hide an ugly stucco job and get potential buyers to notice your house? Paint it all black, of course, including the surrounding stucco enclosure.
Another property by Better Shelter has a lime green door. The bright and saturated hue is needed to keep the structure cheerful against the potentially dreary black backdrop. It also gives sellers that attention-grabbing element they desire. Lime green, teal, orange or red: Take your pick of bold front-door colors.
Black does not have to be reserved for modern structures. It works on any style house, such as this Spanish one. It actually makes small bungalows look bigger and more formidable.
Walking around my own neighborhood, I noticed this design theory put to good use in a dark gray variation. This cute bungalow stood out among the other neutral white, brown and beige homes on the dense street because of its dark facade and lovely sky blue front door. In bright sun, any black may become tempered and slightly faded to a dark gray.
Another house in my neighborhood, equally small. As new construction, the designer could have picked any color; black was the chosen shade of modern and edgy.
Is this a movement that I'm noticing more in Southern California, or have you seen it in your own neighborhoods? It seems to work especially well on small houses that otherwise wouldn't seem very special.
Not surprisingly the married architects behind the popular blog Chezerbey, Lauren and Kyle Zerbey, chose to paint their own bungalow in Seattle all black with bright white trim and warm wood accents. All black is the designers' choice.
So you like the idea, but you just can't imagine doing it on your everyday house? If you're lucky enough to own a vacation property, that may be where you experiment. A woodsy cabin is the opposite of rustic when it's painted all black. A lime green picnic table and teal door add that cheerful pop of color.
Ideabook published on Jan. 1, 2013.
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