Black Houses Are Beautiful

College Street / Little Italy, Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

Many of us have heard Henry Ford's comment about his Ford Model T in 1909 – “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”. I kind of feel that way about houses.

While most traditional Toronto housing is constructed of brick and stone which, if in good condition, doesn't warrant painting, I've long been fascinated with the idea of an all-black painted residence. Even if black is just used for the trim and front porch, I consider it understated and elegant. Black paint is almost always my recommendation to clients when they asked what colour they should paint the trim of their classic Toronto red brick Victorians.

Here are a couple of examples of black houses on my street in Little Italy!



Call it the negation of colour, but black can be seen as both positive and negative. Sure it's the colour of mourning in western countries, it's prevalent with orange during Halloween, and in western flicks the good guy wore white and the bad guy wore black. But on the flip side, youth consider wearing black to be hip, a man in a tuxedo or the woman's little black dress conveys style, sophistication and mystery, and the feng shui colour guide encourages the use of black to add depth, strength and definition. 
With black dwellings I think the entire spectrum of meaning is presented, with each viewer interpreting the look using their own intuitive reaction. For some a black property may perceived as too dark, ominous or formal, while others will see it as daring, dashing, or a bit of a surprise. I love that sort of playful contrast in housing.

Back in 2009 I read this blog on door sixteen which prompted my own brave move encouraging my co-owning pal to paint our house on Prince Edward Island, Canada black as an unexpected style enhancement!



And then – get this – we called it The Black House! In fact, I've been writing about its evolution from our acquisition as a forlorn tenement in 2008 into its near-completed transformation just this year (a six year journey) into our dream-come-true Vacation Rental on Prince Edward Island. If you love a good renovation / restoration / rejuvenation blog you can get the whole beginning-to-now story right here on the site. It's called The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough!

My dear friend Della and urbaneer client recently read a post on Apartment Therapy called “Moody Hues: The Mysterious World of Black Houses” which she promptly sent to me. The thoughtful article resonated with me deeply, so if you like Black Houses like I do it's worth peaking at these photos of Black Houses.

Since 2009 I'm seeing more people take a leap of faith into painting their exteriors black – plus in Toronto I'm witnessing the fashion trend for black brick condominiums (If you're interested in reading about the evolution of condominiums in Toronto – including this trend to black brick this The Face Of Toronto Condo Living is a great read). Interestingly (to me anyway), is that in rebuilding the chimney of our Prince Edward Black House we learned that we're the first people to use black brick in PEI. Since then, our neighbour – architect Aaron Stavert of Open Practice – built the first LEED certified modern dwell on our street with a nod to black as his personal residence.



Don't you love it?


~ Steven and the urbaneer team

* Zeitgeist Addendum * Moments after posting this one of my fav sites called Contemporist featured 5 Black Houses From Around The World. Check it out!

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Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

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