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Thursday, July 8

Painting the town black

I have been doing a lot of driving around San Francisco lately.

I am on a NEW mission lately, and no, it doesn’t involve anymore porta potty sightings!

Now, my latest obsession is seeing a trend of painting houses black. Yes, I said black. Is this the hottest new trend? Do you think it is morbid? Do you think that painting the exterior updates the house? Does it give it a fresh, clean modern look? Would you ever have the guts to do something so bold? Do you think that this is disrespectful to the architecture? Are you concerned about what people would think? What would the neighbors say! This is something that I have seen all over San Francisco. Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights, Russian Hill, SoMa (South of Market Street for all of you out of towners), Noe Valley, Mission, Lake Street. The craze seems to be spreading. What about other cities out there? Have other people seen houses painted black too? Tell me what YOU think.

I guess black is the new black.

If you want MY opinion on this look- I LOVE IT! I really think that I am obsessed! (I formally apologize to friends who have been in the car with me recently when I have had sighting and have suddenly pulled the car over to take photos!) I am a few years off from purchasing my first home, but this is one idea that I really has me thinking and dreaming. Until then, I will keep saving my pennies. A boy can dream can’t he!














40 comments:

Lynne Rutter said...

i do like it, if the house has the good bones to pull it off.

EAC said...

While I admire the courage it must have taken to make the decision and kind of like the feeling the color evokes (sophistication? daring? the fact that it makes me think?), for practical reasons I would never do it myself. Every spiderweb, splash mark, and dust speck would show up instantly. And when I'd tire of the color, the painter would charge an arm and a leg to go over the dark color.

It is interesting how the dark exterior throws the interior window treatments into high relief when viewed from the outside.

"Yeah, that works..!" said...

Personally, I love it. However, I would paint the trim details another color (s). And depending on the roof color - it could provide some really fun options. I do wonder if black poses any issues with heat absorption and the like. Also - upkeep may be an issue regarding fading, chipping, etc. Otherwise, trend or not, I hope more folks consider it.

La Maison Fou said...

I do like these houses, the crispness of the green and sky blue really sets off the onyx color.

I would have to go a dark charcoal color though, probably not a standard flat black.

Interesting Grant, and fresh.

L.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Nope...haven't seen it and nothing like that around my neigborhood!

But, we also don't claim any cool street potties either!

I have to say I really like it too! It feels both Gothic and modern. I do think I'd like to see the door a bit lighter than the house....perhaps gray.

I am always intrigued by a house that seems imposing. They leave me wondering about the inhabitants and their activities!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I LOVE it -it gives a house so much gravitas and sophistication.
But this isn't a 'new' trend - back in the 20s this happened a lot to the gingerbread victorians -I guess to minimalize them or tone them down a bit?
It has to be the RIGHT house though, don't you agree? Love your examples here.

amymeier said...

I think that the first house is successful. It has so much detail that you almost don't miss the color. It is almost as if it all stands out that much more!
Interesting to see this trend. Thank you for photographing it!

VoiceTalk said...

Like you, I rather like the look. It's really interesting to see a Victorian house 'formalized' in this manner. I haven't seen any buildings this color, but only yesterday (here in NYC) was struck by the number of women dressed in black - very Breakfast at Tiffany's- which I had not seen for some time. So yes- black is back.

pretty pink tulips said...

Hi Grant, as you were describing it - I was pondering what I would think and I wasn't so sure...but those first few images have me! I think, however, with a black house, it is imperative that the entry and approach is super well groomed and that pots of fresh plants and a flag make a world of difference. And...I think I like it on the brownstones, specifically! Back in Black!! xo Elizabeth

Deborah said...

I love these homes and wish more people would paint their homes a "real" color. I'm tired of the wanna-be gray homes. It's like people are afraid to really live and be who they were meant to be. Why be ordinary if you don't have to?

Windlost said...

Grant, I must say at first glance I find it utterly depressing. I think this would have to grow on me, and yes, great bones are a necessity to pull off all that drama. Love your posts. xo Terri

Anonymous said...

grant...i love it! the cactus looks so good against the black. it's gutsy - and maybe you would tire of it (i doubt that i would) - but it does look modern and interesting.

BERYN HAMMIL said...

What you've shown us is daring, striking, and wonderful. But let's not paint the town black just yet! Can you imagine a McMansion in black? Yikes! Too Addams Family. But a beautiful Victorian; reminds me of the fabulous widows' weeds from that era. Thanks for making us think outside the box, albeit a black one!

Amy Zwicker said...

The examples you used are lovely and sophisticated. I agree that the house has to be worthy of such a pigment! Few could handle it.

Cristin said...

I love that just about any color of home works in SF. My daughter loves the homes in any shade of pink.

Black is so dramatic, but I am just not that daring.

xo,
cristin

Author said...

I really like it as well as it points out the sculptural aspect of the building.

But yes, a beast to paint over.

gretchen said...

Since I live in the suburbs where every street has a colour theme I think black would stand out in a really bad way. Great for cities with Victorian townhouses tho. Modern houses could be black, but maybe not bungalows.

That said, I think black is very chic and I love the idea. It is an unexpected colour. I say go for it.

All The Trappings said...

Oh yeah. I've fantasized about this for at least 10 years--but hey, my favorite color has been black since I was 7 years old (not a joke). I also love when there are oversized operable shutters flanking the windows in crisp white, or creamy ivory--so sharp :)

Black Fox Manor Inn, Prince Edward Island, Canada said...

Life is short. Why be ordinary? If your house can handle it within the excellent criteria your bloggers cite, it is stunning.

ArchitectDesign said it all: gravitas and sophistication.

Our home's name, Black Fox Manor, lured us into this realm. We planted linden trees to the south and look forward to the eventual dappled summer shade which allow the practicality, not to be overlooked on a Victorian.

There are dangerous moments when I've been tempted to paint the western facade already shaded by century lindens. I'd paint an arbitrary faux shadow line to demarcate the unshaded exposures.

Meanwhile indoors, we're playing up the original black French fireplaces using abundant black accents.

While we're fortunate to enjoy much original oversized and never-painted interior woodwork, the moldings which haven't escaped paint present a temptation to paint black with metallic gold flourishes. Have you ever seen the gold leaf on early black sewing machines? Very inspirational though I've never seen interiors done in this mode.

Thank you for your reliably inspiring offerings!

Nicholas (formerly of San Francisco)
Black Fox Manor
Prince Edward Island, Canada
BlackFoxManor.com

Anonymous said...

There is a house on my street painted black. I love it and have been admiring it for a while! Come to find out a friend of Charlotte's lives in it. I'm hoping to actually see the inside now!

Geralyn Hughes

Anonymous said...

I am so with you--I think black helps to emphasize the architectural details or hide the flaws, and it is a really smart and gorgeous look.

Eddie Phillips

La Boheme said...

I like seeing it on someone else's house and give them thumbs up for confidence but not sure if I would like to see the whole street painted black. Great selection though!

Anonymous said...

they've been doing this in atlanta for years -

john in nc

Open House LLC said...

I rather like it especially on the homes you photographed but it can go wrong quickly

Suzanne said...

I think the black works fabulously with the victorian architecture in the city; and black is ALWAYS in vogue in SF. (When I moved away after growing up there, people here used to ask me if I was going to a funeral, as I wearing so much black!) So, I don't see it working so well on just any old home in the 'burbs. But even most of the 'burbs around there are older, stylish homes... Now I'm feeling homesick ; )

Anonymous said...

The black is fabulous on the Victorians....reminds me of Wedgewood "Basalt" pottery where the relief is sophisticated, sexy.

Therese Jacinto said...

I think that if the house is the right size and has the great bones to pull it off, black looks extremely elegant!! Sort of like "the little black dress". I believe in breaking the rules and knowing how to step out of the typical box. All these images are perfect examples of beautifully executed maisons noires. LOVE!

The Duchess of Wessex said...

Well, the example you provide is STUNNING! I especially love the cactus contrasting against the black - amazing! I don't think black works in every case, but in this one it does. Wouldn't it be fun if everything inside the house were white!? I think you need to tour the inside for me to find out!

You certainly can dream, and I say DREAM BIG!

Michelle H. said...

you're the coolest.

katiedid said...

Hmmmm...I think it definitley depends on the house. The first one is a success, but I have to agree with EAC...every spider web, speck of dust will show, and the fading might just make it look tired and lonely after a couple of years. A black house could definitely be a great backdrop to a fresh green garden though, and if maintained is quite striking!!

ej8 said...

I think some of these home-owners are hoping that the black will weather and fade like a wood clapboard house on Union or Orange Streets in Nantucket. They look interesting with a slate gray sky background, not as attractive with a clear blue sky. You might keep an eye on any of these with a "for sale" sign as they'll likely be hard sells and will likely go for a lower price, rather than investing in the multiple paint coats that will be needed to cover it all or an even costlier removal. Great trend spotting eye!!

sara w said...

I think it's really intriguing, and if done well beautiful. Definitely prefer this to some of the homes in 3-4 contrast colors!

Ideezine said...

Grant,

It would be interesting to interview the homeowners and find out the reason behind the color selection. My first thought was of the recession and an economy in mourning.

The first automobiles were black and black actually holds all colors in it.

So it feels like since a black exterior hasn't become an obsession yet like our vampire obsession currently, maybe it's time is now. I think everything works and has a timing involved.

Bette

victoria thorne said...

love it. so very sf and you've captured the feeling perfectly. just magnificent!

Style Court said...

Grant,

As Megan said over at SC, you have a great eye. I told my mom about these houses -- she was expecting bad things -- but when she saw your pics, she was converted. Thought they were very sophisticated and at home in San Fran. Can't wait to see what you ultimately do when you own your own!

Washington Cube said...

The first time I saw this look was on a Colonial house in downtown Salem, Massachusetts. They had a small pumpkin hung on the front door. Talk about "wow" factor. I just googled, and apparently there's more than one:

http://toddatteberry.com/History/Salem-Massachusetts/The-Witches-House-Former-home/717866572_d7Lvp-M-1.jpg

I couldn't find an image of the one I shot when there. I should dump it in a photo site.

I have to agree with EAC. The pragmatist in me would think about the peeling and showing flaws and repainting for sale...all of the problems, but as a dramatic statement in landscaping, black works.

Pat's Addition said...

I've lived in three old houses that my mom had painted black with white trim. One an old north NJ farm house, the others at the NJ shore: one an 1870's 17 roomer, and the other from the same era, three blocks away a 12 room cottage. They all looked great in black.

Errant Aesthete said...

I've lived in these neighborhoods in the past and like another commenter remarked, these houses definitely have the "bones," the bearing, and the pedigree to pull it off.

When good taste prevails, it's hardly daring in concept or execution, except perhaps to those who are dismally unaware and easily offended (a rather sheltered view one might say).

Anonymous said...

I have always loved this house! I feel like I could invite them to a dinner party, and they would be lovelylovelylovely.

Gexton said...

awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really

sweet!
painters edmonton

painting contractor edmonton

 

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