ISSUE 52  |  Best of 2014

Black Magic: Architects’ 8 Top Paint Picks

January 01, 2015 7:00 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

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You love black houses; we love black houses. Easy to admire but a bold move to make, not just any shade will do. We’ve asked architect and designer members of our Professional Directory for their favorite black exterior paints. Here, they’ve shed some light for when you’re ready to go dark.

What’s your favorite shade of black paint?

Photographs of paint swatches by Katie Newburn for Gardenista.

Above: Top row, left to right: Farrow & Ball Railings; Benjamin Moore Midnight Oil; Benjamin Moore Carbon Copy; Farrow & Ball Off-Black. Bottom row: Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green; Benjamin Moore Black Panther; Farrow & Ball Pitch Black; and Benjamin Moore French Beret

Above: SF-based Butler Armsden Architects renovated a William Wurster home and had it painted in Benjamin Moore Carbon Copy, a rich black shade with a hint of purple. The architects used a flat finish for the body of the home and a soft gloss sheen for the trim.

Above: This home by architect Roberto De Leon is painted in Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green. The shade is discontinued, but can still be mixed on request. Black Forest Green was also a favorite pick of LA-based DISC Interiors (and, after seeing it in person, I myself am obsessed). Photo via Dwell.

Above: Another example of Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green. Williamstown, Mass.-based Burr & McCallum Architects painted this farmhouse with trim in Essex Green.

Above: Stylist Arren Williams chose Farrow & Ball Railings for his own home (pictured here). Railings is not a true black, but functions beautifully in place of one. TheJenTurner Studio also used Railings on the exterior trim and front door of her home in Brooklyn. For details, see The Architect Is In: Tips from Jen Turner’s Grand DIY. The shade was also recommended by Charles Mellersh Design Studio in London. Photograph via House & Home

Above: Farrow & Ball’s Off-Black is a favorite of designer/fabricators MADE LLC in New York. Photograph via Farrow & Ball

Above: Owner Margaret Grade of Sir and Star restaurant in Marin chose Benjamin Moore Black Panther for a dark overhaul of her formerly white building. This shade is in a tie with Pitch Black for the blackest of the shades recommended here. For more, see A Restaurant That Channels “The Birds,” West Marin Style. Photograph by Alexa Hotz.

Above: Portland, OR-based Bright Design Lab used Benjamin Moore Midnight Oil on this home still under construction. The shade is a very dark gray with just a hint of brown.

Above: NYC-based Steven Harris Architects used Farrow & Ball Pitch Black for a long exterior storage wall on this beach home in Montauk. Photograph by Scott Frances

Above: SF-based Boor Bridges Architecture used Benjamin Moore French Beret on this home in Sonoma (still under construction). Architect Bonnie Bridges describes the shade as “the blackest black with an ever-so-subtle hint of blue.” Though black may be an unlikely pick for a home nestled among the trees, “It’s rich enough to be the backdrop to the vast site and amazing views,” she says. 

Can’t decide which color to paint your exterior? See the 10 Easy Pieces posts in our exterior color series: Architects’ Top 10 Grays, and White Exterior Paint Picks.

What paint color should we profile next? Green? Yellow?