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Dark painted houses.

Historic facade in Cape Town
(Historic facade in Cape Town; via House and Leisure.) 

How do you feel about dark painted houses? Charcoal, navy, black, graphite, slate…? In case you hadn’t guessed: I’m into them. Dark colours recede nicely into their surroundings, and cool dark tones look SO GOOD against warm timber. (The interior walls of our house are in blues and greys for that same reason.) A dark blue or grey exterior would suit a coastal climate, and it’d feel classic, yet fresh, on tired old weatherboards. And in case you’re not convinced… allow me to present my case.


(Colorbond Australia; Chezerbey, Farrow&Ball, I Don’t Wear Black)

The case for a dark colour:

See above. Beautiful, right? All those dark walls in one spot are so soothing to look at. And I’m pretty sure that Colorbond picture features Ironstone, the colour in their range that we’re using. Nice.

The Chezerbey house has been on my mind for a while now, ever since I saw their renovation on Apartment Therapy ages ago, and they kindly responded when I asked if the dark colour noticeably warmed up their house at all. Answer: no, but they did insulate the bejeesus out of their house, so. (If you like reno blogs: do yourself a favour and read through their archives, and then cry bitter jealous tears because your household doesn’t have a talented husband-and-wife architect team turning your own crummy house into a modern marvel.)

Quick reminder that this is what we have right now, circa last spring. It’s a giant blank canvas if you’ve ever seen one; heritage-listed it is not. Stripping and painting is slow going, but the few painted patches so far look GREAT. I’m thrilled!

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS, and my counter-arguments:

Surroundings. Here’s a neighbourhood in Hobart, and here’s a typical suburban colour palette. (Not necessary, but this sort of thing does interest me; it varies so much from city to city!) Most houses are weatherboard or brick (solid or veneer) with painted Colorbond steel roofing. A dark, cool neutral might look questionable in the desert, but here it’ll fit right in.

Fading. One traditional reason why houses were painted in light colours: dark paints are renowned for fading quickly. Paints are better than ever with UV stabilisation, but we’re still anticipating that the western side of the house, which cops all the weather, will need a touch-up coat before the rest of the house. That’s doable.

Heat/insulation, and the lack thereof. Oh hey, my pet topic to piss and moan about: the un-insulated iceboxes that we call homes in Australia! Needless to say, there’s a real worry about dark-coloured paint making our lives miserable in summer. I’m not so delusional that I think it won’t have any effect whatsoever, but here’s why we’re willing to give it a shot anyhow:

It’s trendy and you’ll hate it in three years

It’s just paint.

Progress! I’ll share more details on the paint job once this section is done. (Which should be this weekend, god willing.) The path to a dark painted house has been a slow, messy one, but once it all comes together… IT’S GONNA LOOK GREAT.

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