The latest trend? Home exteriors are going to the dark side. Here’s what you need to know before picking up a paint brush.

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Is it just us, or is everyone painting their homes dark and stormy hues? From traditional navy to deep charcoal, darker paint colors are having a major moment. Bold, daring, and packed with personality, we love how the unexpected drama throws some serious shade. Do you want to take your home exterior to the dark side? Here is everything you need to know before heading to the paint store.

Gray House with White Annuals and Green Bushes
Credit: Hector Sanchez

Here's Looking at Hue

Dark exterior colors have been around for centuries. Nodding to nature, varying degrees of black shades have roots in Scandinavia where tar was originally used as a water sealant, plus the darker color helped insulate homes during the long winter season by absorbing light. Early American designs also adopted the style, with notable examples including Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, as well as the historic structures in Colonial Williamsburg, as seen in Benjamin Moore's Williamsburg Paint Color Collection, highlighting the distinctive pigments of the area in the 18th and early 19th centuries, like Tavern Charcoal (CW-90).

Paint By Numbers

While paint buckets are ubiquitous to the masses today, starting around the 14th century it was reserved for the aristocrats and wealthy sets who hired skilled artisans using pigments found in nature. It wasn't until 1866 when Harry Sherwin, Alanson Osborn, and Edward Williams founded Sherwin-Williams Co. in Ohio and became the first company to produce ready-to-use paint, followed by Benjamin Moore in 1883. At the turn of the 20th century, resealable tin cans were introduced to the marketplace, ushering the design world into an equitable era of self-expression at home, inside and out. A kaleidoscope of hues entered the mainstream, with color trends ebbing and flowing with the times. As of late, white houses (and their interiors) have reigned supreme. But in the last couple of years, a flux of darker facades have been noted and loved in glossy magazines and Instagram feeds, bringing a new perspective to the design landscape.

Maintenance Manual

Stylistically, darker facades add architectural interest even to the most basic builder-grade veneer or add a modern twist to traditional exteriors. Realistically, they need a little bit of annual elbow grease, not unlike lighter houses that show dirt and dust over time. Annual washing, particularly after heavy pollen seasons, is recommended to keep a shipshape dark haven.