Black Houses In Canadian Urban Settings

Do you know what Henry Ford said 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!

As a realtor in Toronto, most of our city housing is constructed of brick and stone that, if in good condition, doesn't warrant painting. We might see the trim painted black (I consider this classic and delightful), but for years I've been fascinated with the idea of an all-black residence.

Fortunately, I got to indulge this desire when one of my bestie's and I acquired a forlorn tenement in Charlottetown, PEI in 2008, embarking on a 9 year transformation that was completed just last year into our dream-come-true vacation rental! If you love a good renovation / restoration / rejuvenation blog you can get the whole beginning-to-now story on my site, called The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough!

And yes Captain Obvious, five years ago - once all the windows and roof were replaced and the exterior porches built - we had it repainted and called it 'The Black House'!



Doesn't the black look brilliant, especially against the pops of colour? And a round of applause to bestie Toronto landscape designer and artist Dan Nuttall who planted a 'black garden' to complement the exterior.



Incidentally, during our renovation - which required significant repairs to the old chimney - we learned we're the first people to use black brick in PEI!

Using black as a predominant colour on PEI is pretty recent, outside the aging process where natural wood shingles can turn black over time - but we were thrilled to see our neighbour, architect Aaron Stavert of Open Practice, build his own LEED-certified modern dwell on our street just months later, with his own nod to black abodes! 

Love this!




If you're considering going black on your facade, there are some drawbacks. The sun can fade any dark shade over time, and black does show bird dung (sad, but true) plus the paint does chip randomly after a heavy winter. Every year we have any damaged shingles repainted. We've been really pleased with the result - as the individual repainted shingles appear as slightly different shades - which in their random patchwork over the past five years makes the house 'shimmer' in a very subtle irregular pattern, much like fish scales. We find it visually arresting and like how its developing its own personal patina with time!

Recently, a follower of the Black House twitter feed - Chimni - recently directed me to their own website and collection of Black Houses. The Chimni Wiki offers architectural history for the homeowner, combining it with building & maintenance information, media references, book recommendations and legal/regulatory advice in a living compendium of housing information. Thanks for the tip, Chimni!

With our own Black House fitting quite nicely into Charlottetown's Upper Hillsborough neighbourhood - and keeping a constant eye on the architectural aesthetics of Toronto real estate - I've discovered the design profession and public are embracing black houses. And now that  I'm approaching the fifth year since launching - my University Student Mentorship site on Canadian shelter - the time has come to document our emerging collection of Canadian black houses!

Here's a line up of the black dwells we've featured in Canadian urban settings on!


Black Houses Embracing The Gritty City Context


W27th By RUFproject In Vancouver, BC


Montreal’s Alexandra Residence By _Naturehumaine Architects


Vancouver’s Pink House By Scott Posno Design


A Contemporary Loft For $2.3 Million In Downtown Toronto

(While primarily a real estate post, I wanted to include this blog to demonstrate a trend I'm witnessing in Toronto of 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. See a another black condo facade by 5468795 Architecture in Winnipeg below!)


Winnipeg’s OZ Condominiums By 5468796 Architecture


A Ville Mont-Royal, Quebec Transformation By YH2 Architects


The Moos Vessel By Tampold Architects In Toronto


A Toronto Live/Work Building By Kohn Shnier Architecture Ltd.


UP House By Toronto’s Incite Design


A Toronto Laneway Dwelling By Kohn Shnier Architects


The Totem House By RZLBD In Toronto


430 House by D’Arcy Jones Architecture In Vancouver, BC


Tower House in Toronto, Ontario by McCallum Sather Architects


Colraine Residences in In Montreal By Naturehumaine



Along with this list of black houses adapting to the natural Canadian landscape, this may, in fact, be the most comprehensive collection of Canadian black house!

So... are you a black house convert?

If you know of an architect or designer who has embraced this aesthetic who might like to be featured here on, drop me an email at!


Btw, have you ever heard of a black garden? Check out A Black Garden At The Black House In PEI By Dan Does Design

~ Posted by Steven Fudge, the purveyor of and proprietor of, a division of Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.


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