Dark houses are so dramatic. The contrast between the dark color and the lighter sky makes for a great look. Of course dark houses blend in less with their environment than lighter or mid-tone houses do, but that’s a design choice. Dark blue, dark green, dark grey, brown and black are all attractive choices. A very modern approach is not to use any contrasting trim colors at all but the success of that is very much based on the architectural style of the house.
One down side of going this route is that fading is much more noticeable when you start with a dark house. Certain colors contain what’s called fugitive pigments and they are known to fade faster as they are less stable. Any reputable paint store should be able to tell you which colors in their line are not recommended for exterior use (although they will still be sold). The worst offenders are colors which contain a red pigment and some yellows as well. This can translate into a red, orange, brown, green or even purple color, as certain shades of those colors can contain the offending pigment. (Please don’t put purple on your house though!) If the area you’re painting is small, like a door, then go for it keeping mind you will need to repaint often.
Just like painting an interior, a higher sheen will wear better than a flatter one but a shiny house is not very attractive. Most people go for the finish just above matte. Usually this is an eggshell, satin or pearl. Some people opt for a dead matte house anyway as a matte finish will really make your paint color pop and certain architectural styles look very good in matte. Take a look at some great dark houses. All photos by Amy Krane, unless noted.
Look at the adventurous treatment of color on these buildings in Great Barrington. Truly bold, with its blue and red stripes placed carefully and artfully on the trim.