Thinking about painting your home’s exterior in a bold color? If there is one thing that’s true about bold exteriors, it’s that these saturated tones look best in places where nature reigns–where there are trees, plants, and other greenery.

Black and very dark tones are beautiful mirrors to natural surroundings. Black also looks great on homes that have symmetrical faces and a lot of windows. Dramatic combinations of color are lovely for late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century homes.

Bold color suits historic homes, including Victorian structures, retro American retreats, Craftsman houses, and more. If you chose your accents well, saturated darks can bring out the good bones of historic architecture. A black exterior seems like the perfect complement to the natural world, and it pops up in surprising ways.

Coal grays can be perfect for outdated ranch homes or dull industrial buildings as well. Unexpectedly, there has been a growing trend in the number of dramatic transformations of cookie cutter facades using dark colors, including navy, a nocturnal pine green, grays, deep indigos, and black.

Punctuate your choices with bright or tastefully neutral doors, and your exterior can go from outdated to eye-catching.

Night Black Grand Lakeside Retreat + Tiny Cottage

One of the most extraordinary examples is the beautiful home of the owners of the import store Huzza, Rad and Kate MacCready, recently featured on The Fresh Exchange.

Black dark paint house exterior

Appealing and perched at Lake Michigan, this house contrasts with deep greens and creates a sense of sanctuary. The white entry is a perfect welcome.

In contrast to the lush forests of the Michigan home, the former cottage of late filmmaker Derek Jarman is situated in the seemingly inhospitable Dungeness spit that reaches into the English Channel.

View Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman's Garden & Black House, via Wellywoman

In 2012, writer and blogger Louise Curley of Welly Woman documented her visit to this fascinating place and took these photos of the little black cottage which still captures the imagination of so many. Stark black is offset by bright yellow and the still lush windswept gardens.

Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman's Garden & Black House, via Wellywoman

Great black and dark gray paints to use on the exterior of your home are BEHR’s Marquee Black Ribbon Flat and Dark as Night and Glidden’s Black Amethyst

Go North with Black Minimalism

Scandinavians love black and white, and nordic summer houses are often wood sided and painted black. White, red, and natural wood accents make these homes appealing and at one with natural surroundings.

Black exterior paint

White interiors are common, as are large open windows allowing natural light and unobstructed views of trees and lakes.

Historic Makeovers

Historic and traditional homes, including Victorian and Edwardian structures, are breathtaking in dark colors. Also, the eclectic details of Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Second Empire homes hold color well.

The polygonal towers—and dramatic asymmetry of Queen Anne architecture–is a perfect canvas for bold hues. Stick Eastlake homes with their “gingerbread” elements are by nature bold and deserve an equally powerful palette.

Dark exterior paint

I would add that when a house is as grand as many historic Victorians are, the original intention was not modesty. These homes were custom built by the most skillful of craftsmen.

Think for a moment about the details in these houses: the gingerbread accents, slated roofs, porches, columns, wood floors, moldings, bay windows, hardwood staircases, and pocket doors.

bold exterior

These were masterpieces and meant to be ostentatious, so in many ways it makes sense to go bold and show off the attributes of these types of homes.

Victorian House, via

This seventeenth-century darling is the headquarters of haute couture house Viktor & Rolf, Amsterdam. Black is the main color, but the accents are white, offset by lovely stone.

Indigo Dreams + The Blues

Navy is a great alternative to black, and contrary to its reputation as a staid color, it really makes a more industrial or utilitarian house look bohemian. The wood accents of these homes are a winning touch.

To get the look, use BEHR’s Marquee Moody Black, Marquee Black Sapphire, or Marquee Club Navy.

Almost Neutral, The New Charcoal

This gorgeous historic home has a balance of bold, rich, and bright accents. The house was boldly made over with Behr’s Marquee exterior paint colors: Intergalactic, Polar Bear, and Deep Breath.

Dark bold exteriors

Bold exteriors

This lakeside Adirondacks house byPeter Pennoyer Architects is in a majestic charcoal with orange widows and natural wood elements. The dark color makes this home like a magical retreat and oasis.


Images courtesy of The Fresh ExchangeWelly WomanAnna Kern, Photographer & Boligmagasinet, DenmarkNordic Design, Lonny Mag, Alec HemerTodd HidoSinnott and Co.Vogue, AustraliaBallet Flats & Boat ShoesThe Estate of ThingsOscar V, Belgium, and Peter Pennoyer Architects


About The Author

Art+Design Consultant

Art historian by training, curator, writer and design lover. Principal of Art +Design Consulting. Lover of all things well made.