Sexy outfits, leather boots and sunglasses. These are just some fashions that beg black. And now that dramatic, but neutral, color is finding its way onto home exteriors in sunny Sarasota.

This brightly colored home in Arlington Park is making way for darker colored homes in the latest trend.

“Some people don't want their house to look like an ice cream cone,” says Kelly Kaiser of Orange Moon Interiors, who does home exteriors, too. “I'm seeing the uptick. It’s sexy, it’s timeless, it's tailored, and I'm really enjoying using it.”

Blacks and dark colors can feel velvety in matte finishes, and work well for hiding inconsistencies, effectively melding disparate parts into one. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Behr Paint Company reports that sales of black interior and exterior paint grew almost 40 percent from 2019 to 2020. At Sherwin Williams in Sarasota, Renee Torres feels the move toward more inky colors, too; in fact, the color Urbane Bronze, a deep, dark brown, was Sherwin Williams' color of 2021.

“Since the pandemic, it’s been more and more in demand,” Torres says. “The greiges (a combination of grey and beige), are finally taking a back seat.”

Kaiser cites Scandinavians, long-time architectural arbiters of all things hip and simple, as the source for popularizing these dark colors. Indeed, black exteriors stun against snow-laden pine tree branches, and “they’re ahead of us in trends,” she says.

Black exteriors are also popular in Japan, where wood is preserved by charring cypress planks, a 150-year-old technique known as shou sugi ban. And have you seen that Victorian San Francisco home featured in Architectural Digest? Check it out.

Despite that, some designers see using shades of black for home exteriors in sunny Sarasota as near blasphemy.

“I don't see it and I don't think it makes sense. Why would you want darkness? The color of the water, the sand, the sky, the green and flowers–it doesn't make sense,” says Pamela Hughes of Hughes Design Associates in Sarasota. “This is a light environment so houses should be light.”

Keffie Lancaster of Lancaster Interior Design in Sarasota points to the iconic bright homes of the Greek islands, where they sing against sunny, blue skies and beach scenes. In Kentucky, where skies are grayer and temperatures cooler, she has clients going dark gray with black accents. 

An obvious caution of painting it black in hotter Florida is the relationship between temperature and color. Dark colors absorb heat. Maybe that’s why Pinterest searches for "black houses" spiked most during the month of January in the last 12 months. A black house in Sarasota could have you spending more on the electric bill to stave off added heat during the sweltering summer months.

In Sarasota, both Kaiser and Lancaster agree you can still have that dark cake and eat it too, you just have to do it right.

“It’s Florida, so we have to choose where we put black very carefully,” Kaiser says, “I’m finding a lot of clients are more open to dark front doors and black window frames, shutters and garage doors, so you still get that classic vibe.”

Sherwin-Williams Laurel Woods color is a green-based black that Kaiser loves.

Sherwin-Williams Cast Iron.

Sherwin-Williams color of the year, Urbane Bronze.

Sherwin-Williams Black Fox.

Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore.

Another thing to keep in mind with darker colors that are open to the elements is that they can look dull and drab during pollen season, but it’s nothing a hose-down can’t solve. Also, don’t skimp on quality, Torres says. Since darker colors are more sensitive to light and heat, buying a better quality paint pays off by keeping color from peeling, and keeping finishes truer.

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