Black windows with a white exterior and interior is the hottest trend going at the moment, but are they right for your new build? Here’s what you need to know before you choose black windows for your home.
First, do you live in Texas or California? If you don’t, your windows will never look like this fabulous inspiration image with the skinny mullions (above). They need to be BUILT for cold weather, or hurricanes. That means your windows will look much, much thicker and heavier than this sexy inspiration photo.
Are Black Windows the Best Choice for Your New Build?
Those of you who regularly read my blog will know by now that I approach choosing permanent elements like tile, countertops and backsplash from a classic perspective and exterior fixed elements are no exception.
Consider the source
If you’re thinking about installing black windows in your new house, you might have already noticed there isn’t a single article advising you on what to consider if you do choose black windows. Everyone just says, hooray, aren’t they fabulous?
And I’m not saying that in the right context they are not beautiful. However, I am saying they are not for every house and everyone.
So first, as long as black and white is TRENDY, which it will be for the next 10 years (the life cycle of a trend) all will be well.
You’ll build a new house, install black windows, paint the walls white and for a while you’ll be happy, maybe.
Installing black windows INSIDE your home means you are forever decorating with black.
But what happens when down the road, you no longer want to decorate with black?
Your windows will still be a prominent part of the colour scheme.
Or what happens if you didn’t realize they would be so bossy and you don’t know how to decorate around them?
Black windows will NOT look good with the standard 2″ white wood blinds or certainly not black
The other thing you need to consider is how will you cover them?
The minute you cover them with 2″ white blinds, it’s over. Now you have white wood blinds, hanging over your black windows and it gets busy. In fact, most black windows online were covered with black blinds, and that is certainly not going to work in every room in your home.
The best option for black windows is a roller shade:
Drapes or roman shades (below) will also work.
Read more about white paint: 4 Reasons Your White Walls Look Bad
Interior Design by Alicia Zupan
Black windows look the best uncovered
When I started writing this post I found an article about black windows written by a window manufacturer. They said one of the amazing features of black windows is that you can (and should) leave them UNCOVERED.
And why is this such a great idea? Help me understand? Who lives in a house with no window coverings?
Yet, the beautiful photos that we’re looking at on Pinterest are exactly that. Uncovered. Why? Because then you can see the black window, and that looks the best.
These windows are thicker, but we don’t notice that because they are so symmetrical and also balanced by the black lampshades. There’a also A LOT of window here. And the other good thing this white kitchen doesn’t have is little bitty black hardware spotted throughout. Makes it look a lot more timeless and a lot less “We renovated our kitchen during the pandemic”.
Here’s the other issue with the black windows you’re in love with. Online, you’re looking at the beautifully decorated interiors AND exteriors. Created by designers. Interiors that have a look and a feel.
Those are the photos that get pinned OVER and OVER and OVER AGAIN. In fact, they are so heavily pinned (and many of them on link-bait sites), it’s impossible to find the actual source of most of them (believe me I tried).
The beautiful uncovered black windows are the ones that are pinned to your boards.
Go back and look at them right now, I’ll wait.
Black windows not covered properly from the inside look like black holes during the day
And wait, what about the exterior? If you choose the wrong windows, they will look like black holes.
Windows at the best of times, always look black ALREADY during the day (below).
These windows are small (below), the architecture is beautiful and the window boxes are filled with white flowers. Here the black windows are working:
Homes with black windows are strategically photographed
This photo has been taken at dusk (below). Have you ever gone for a walk in the early evening, before the sun sets when you can see inside people’s homes (because the lights are on and they haven’t closed the blinds or drapes yet?).
That’s what is happening here to make this photo look so great. You can even see the sun setting through the clouds in the second floor windows. This same house during the day will have black holes where the windows are:
If you look again at your most beautiful inspiration photos, they were taken with the lights on inside the house, or close enough so the photographer caught the trees reflecting in the windows.
The windows are a lot thicker here to withstand the weather but again, we don’t notice that because of the beautiful photo, taken at dusk.
This house is probably located in Texas (below):
Since black windows in the interior of your house are so bossy, if you really love this look, I would keep it to the exterior of your home and still specify white (off-white or cream) for the inside.
And, if you’ve read all of the above and still want black windows, here is my best advice:
Keep the mullions super THIN (Again, only possible in warm climates without hurricanes)
Love these, however, notice AGAIN the lack of window coverings.
via Ryan Street and Associates
This image has been circulating for years! And again, it’s uncovered.
If your windows are black, you need to repeat it in your decorating
Right away, you can see that this is a ski chalet. Windows are thicker and much more prominent (below).
via Design Sponge
via Atlanta Homes
Black must be repeated in the interior to look fabulous
Notice when the black is not repeated, it starts looking like the wrong colour choice (see below). The brown stump doesn’t really count in repeating the black. And this but he way is what most of your black windows will look like. Thick and heavy and overpowering, especially when you forget you have black windows during your new build and install a kitchen or bathroom without a stitch of black in it.
If you have a primarily earthy colour scheme in your interior or exterior, skip the black windows.
White and fresh goes with black. This house (below) is earthy.
source (this house will look wrong forever)
Earthy goes with cream. Trust me on this one.
My exterior masterclass goes into this at great length, including what you can do to fix your curb appeal if you DID install black windows and they now look like dark holes, you can buy it here.
Leave your black windows uncovered
You might be in the luxurious position of living in the middle of nowhere. Or surrounded by privacy trees, or a courtyard?
As I’ve just said, most of the inspiration images online have UNCOVERED black windows.
Because they look the best that way.
If you subscribe to the ‘every room needs a hit of black’ then black windows might be for you, but choose them with care instead of just buying or specifying them because you love all the inspiration images you’re seeing.
Bottom line, if you do not plan to carefully decorate your home from top to bottom, I would re-consider installing a window in such a bossy colour, in the inside of your home anyway.
Over to you my lovelies, who’s installing black windows in your new build?
If you need help coordinating all your new build colours and finishes, this is what it looks like to work with me. See all of my eDesign services here.
After all, what colour your windows should be is only the first decision, there are many more to come and if you don’t know FOR SURE, which colour to choose, and WHY it’s the right decision, this is not the time to guess. Guessing equals mistakes you’ll have to live with forever.
Become a True Colour Expert
Make confident decisions about hard and soft finishes in your home projects when you become a True Colour Expert!
Here is another fabulous class of True Colour Experts from a SOLD OUT Vancouver event.
We had new designers, experienced designers, homeowners who want to learn how to make informed colour choices every day themselves and homeowners working on new builds! Everyone can learn my System for Specifying Colour at the same time!
Become a True Colour Expert in my live, virtual two-day workshop here.
P.S. See the black windows (below)? And they sure are pretty when the lights reflect against the windows at dusk just like I mentioned in my post!
10 Steps for Planning Your New Build
5 Best Ways to Choose Your Roof Colour
Ask Maria: What Mood Does Black and White Convey, Warm or Cool?
Thank you for demystifying another trend for us! I’m interested your thoughts on painting all the interior doors black or charcoal gray. I imagine you would have similar advice. Everybody seems to want to paint their interior doors a dark color these days. Looking forward to meeting you in Dallas!
Maria, I am interested in your thoughts on this too!
I just did a major remodel and installed black windows and I LOVE them! After doing tons of research, Black was recommended when you want to accentuate your view and surroundings because black draws your eye outside. We are surrounded by mountains and trees and wanted to really highlight the beauty around us. We painted the walls in a light grey with white trim and it just feels bright, clean and relaxing.
Thanks for your comment, happy to hear you love them, sounds beautiful! Maria
Yeah, you’re right, Maria. I’ve never seen a picture of black windows with any window coverings at all.
They are sooooo seductive in the photos. On the other hand, I just realized they remind me too much of a jail cell. 😉
Excellent post on black framed windows. I love them! But, after reading this post I will not be installing them. A black hole during the day means no curb appeal. Leave your windows uncovered – bedrooms & baths come to mind. Although drapery panels on either side, that can be closed at night and pushed off the window during the day, would still look lovely. Your advice on keeping the frame thin and fewer panes makes absolute sense. It’s less busy, for sure.
I guess my Pinterest board on black framed windows is getting deleted. Thank you for helping me see the light.
I agree that black windows look best undressesd.
Just for those who love the black window exterior, I remember Anderson windows offer black or bronze exteriors with the option of white for the interior so that you are not ‘stuck’ decorating around the black inside. I’m not sure if other window manufacturers offer the same option.
I didn’t choose black when we built 3 years ago, but it seems like the more recent builds in my neighborhood have all been black exterior windows with white or off-white Hardie siding. Because of this, our custom neighborhood looks ‘cookie-cutter’ on the last cul-de-sac. The neighbors call it the ‘Fixer-Upper’ street.
Good luck in keeping ALL those black Mullions and trim CLEAN too! They look dusty within a 24 hour time lapse.
Oh my gosh, I didn’t even think of that one, same goes for black or espresso brown hardwood floors! Thanks for your comment Lee! Maria
Indeed… I’m keeping Swiffer in business. I swore I would never again ‘choose’ dark hardwood floors but when we downsized a year ago, we bought a condo with the very same floors and we are always looking for a solution to the too-frequent dusting. I could scream! But, I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to using black as the anchor in rooms and in particular I love and recommend black, framed windows. However, we are restricted in a condo building so I’m considering just painting the frames ourselves to create the effect – framing the view. Great post Maria.. lots of valid points when considering black on windows. It’s a ‘yes’ for me.. :))
Yes! I was going to say the same thing. Plus the exterior patio door/French door thresholds that I have seen are all black, too. And the screens . . . It would drive me crazy.
I agree with a lot of what you say–for new houses. However, I think black or dark windows are a classic, but within certain constraints. I recommend the Old House Guy blog for an intensive primer on traditional windows and historic architecture. I also recommend The Craftsman Blog for information on how to fix both old metal and wood windows. The beauty of old windows is that with proper care they can last centuries and can be any color you want!
In the past, black or dark colors were softened by painting just the sash and pairing a dark sash with other rather dark colors on the trim, and often the black had a hint of another color in it, like green or brown. In Victorian times, the windows were wood, and if tastes changed, as they did around 1900, from dark trim with mid-tone body colors, to light trim with mid-tone body colors, then the tones could be adjusted. By about 1920, metal casement windows started to get popular, and they usually had dark frames. Even after the switch to lighter trim, darker sash colors were the norm until around WWII.
After WWII, mill-finished aluminum and light wood tones and bright white paint came on the scene. By that point, a lot of old houses were painted over with white to make them less fussy, and it was easy to match off-the-shelf. House colors tended to be neutral or pastel until the 1970s, when the painted ladies started to bring color back, at least for Victorian houses. By the 1980s when the quality of wood windows had dropped and vinyl gained popularity, and dark brown wood tones fell out of style, the norm became white sash, often paired with white trim, or with the trim shrunk down to nearly nothing.
In the past 15 years or so, trim has become more robust again, at least on quality traditional style homes, in part due to composites and changing tastes and the Craftsman and Farmhouse Revival. The palette has shifted from earthy to grey and whites and light-filled interiors, so dark sashes have come back in style. However, attention needs to be taken to ensure proportion and details work well together and weather the test of time. The book “Get Your House Right” can be helpful.
The problem with mass-produced low-maintenance modern windows that you cannot change the color easily, and if you do, you risk easily damaged or peeling paint or visible weatherstripping within a few years. Modern black windows lack the subtlety and depth of old windows, and often look rather flat. I think they work well with modern architecture, masonry structures and perhaps very well-done traditional architecture.
Anodized dark brown aluminum windows may be a choice as well that is somewhat less stark. Due to the thermal properties of vinyl to expand and contract with the temperature, it is probably best to stick to white. For the most flexibility, get wood or fiberglass windows, then you can paint or finish the inside any color you want.
Thank you for your detailed comment that is helpful to everyone! I appreciate it! Maria
Great comment! And Get your House Right is such an awesome resource!
Our house has GIANT black windows (my front windows are 12’x12′), and they still look like black holes. Yes, they do look best uncovered, but there’s no way that I want uncovered windows. I did not choose these windows, and if I were building, I would not. I do have a wall of glass on the back that I will always leave uncovered, and those are the only ones that I really love in black.
Another con about black windows: black windows and heat do not mix!! Though they do look lovely on the right home, they can be a nightmare anywhere that gets a lot of sun.
Thank you! Everybody around me is doing black windows, and even though they are high-end homes, I just can’t believe they aren’t going to look dated. I’m going to stick with white and/or light wood.
My husband and I are building our new home with the Marvin contemporary windows in ebony. Once the windows are installed and the stone/brick installed, I look forward to sharing a few pictures with you!
Any new photos you can share of your ebony windows? Are they black interior & exterior?
Would love to see them! I’m working with Marvin windows for new build…
Hi Maria, I am on the fence about black windows. I have a California, Mediterranean style house which has a reddish tile roof and light, peachy beige stucco. We are planning to add some yellow/ivory limestone and repaint with a yellow color like you see in Provence. Since black wrought iron is used a great in Provence we think that black iron door knobs and light fixtures make sense.
The windows we have now are aluminum with small Mullins painted white. I have always thought they looked too skimpy to be white so I am thinking of painting the windows black. We have window treatments on the windows that face our front yard. However, you really cannot see the windows from the street because we have huge oak trees and a front courtyard.
When a house has a strong regional look (i.e. Mediterranean) can you bend the rules about clean versus dirty?
I remember this conversation! Thanks for capturing it here.
Such a great three days! I’m only sorry I waited so long to do the course.
You are so smart, Maria!! You totally broke it down as to how and why these windows are so appealing right now, and why they might not actually be a good idea for the average home. A year ago we moved to 2 acres in a smaller town away from the city, ranch house built in 1984 with black steel framed picture windows on all sides. As you say we have the luxury of not needing window treatments for privacy due to a combination of tall mature hedges and property size/house placement relative to the neighbors. Some windows we have natural woven shades for sun deflection but most are naked and beautiful that way LOL. And I do love a hit of black in every room, and repeat it in my decorating, so I’m super happy about my (trendy yet 34 year old) black frames. Only thing I have to be careful of is adding too many other black lines or it gets busy.
Hi, Maria. Thank you for this timely post. What is the best approach for window color with a Tudor house? I thought I saw in an earlier post that you recommend dark windows for Tudor-style homes.
What I said about a Tudor House still stands, I’m not saying black windows are always a bad choice, I’m just saying be aware of how much money you have to dress them as well as repeating black in your decorating and fixed elements so they look intentional and well planned! Maria
I painted my interior window trim black for one reason. The windows face a beautiful ocean view all year round, and the black trim draws the eye out to the view. I even did an experiment on two rooms whose doors are separate only by a few inches. i left one room with white trim and painted the adjoining room windows in black trim. I had the kids stand in the hall where they could easily see both rooms, and all four children (ages 12-18) were amazed at how the black trim made the view cleaner and brighter. I don’t know why, but I’m assuming the white light reflecting off the trim dilutes the outdoor light coming in. All four kids wanted their trim to be black. I have modern windows, so I had to be careful and keep the black trim as thin as possible. I only painted the most interior portion of the trim black and left the surround trim in white. Otherwise the windows would have been big black blocks on the wall. I wish my mullions were thinner, to be honest, but for windows facing the view I absolutely love the black trim. It is so much easier to notice the outdoor beauty.
Black supposedly recedes. This is what a contractor told us once when we had a deck with a gorgeous view, but white railings. He painted them black and they really did disappear into the view. We talked about doing them in our new build, but our builder talked us out of them. They are black on the outside, white on the inside. I have to admit I like it this way better, but maybe it’s because it looks better with my white Roman shades.
@Susie: Re painting your white railings black and how they disappeared. The same rule applies for fencing as when viewing from a distance, it is barely visible.
When we built our current home were going through the specifications with the so called colour consultant she was surprised when I said ‘no’ to black windows. I wanted white even though black would have looked good on the build. I realised that black would have for me, been difficult to decorate around. I like classic and timeless hence my white kitchen and neutral backdrop. Besides I abhor naked windows at night. I do not like seeing the reflection of inside the house on the glass. Personally, I find it creepy. I may be old fashioned but I like a nice insulating curtain (drape).
I said ‘so called colour consultant’ because her qualification was that she was the builder’s wife and she didn’t have a clue. Number one candidate for your course Maria!
Wow. Timely post for me. We are designing our retirement home. I have always been drawn to the farmhouse style and, for me at least, it will never be a fad or latest trend. We are planning on white board and batten and black windows. I have already thought of the need to incorporate black in the design such as light fixtures and some accessories and perhaps plumbing fixtures. Although I do like silver hardware and fixtures with black as well. But I honestly have not thought about window treatments! I am always drawn to simple white flowing panels and bamboo shades. Now I need to try and find some pictures to see how the shades will look with the black. Any input would be really appreciated. I also have oil paintings that are outdoor scenes but on the warmer side. I was hoping bringing in black accents would tie in with some of the browns and greens and warm colors I already have. You have given me quite a bit to think about. Thank you ! But I do love the black windows. What to do , what to do…..
Kerri, I’m in the process of updating my 65 year old brick ranch. I was also wondering about window coverings. Most curtains are lined in white, at least the ones I have are. In my research I read a suggestion for lining curtains with a neutral beige?? I’m going to make a sample curtain to see. I’m planning on black windows on the outside and white on the inside. I’m afraid black on the inside wouldn’t work as well for me since I don’t have much black in my decorating. I’d love to see pictures!! The Pinterest pictures are too unrealistic for me! I’d rather the Pinterest pictures that homeowners post. Good luck in choosing……….
Thanks for this post. We’re mid construction on a new house, so it was very timely. Our contemporary house will have black interior and exterior windows, so your list of things to think about was very helpful. We’ll be on 20 acres with no visible neighbors, so no window coverings in most rooms will be fine, and we’ll go with blackout drapes in the bedrooms. I was on the fence for shades v. drapes, and this helped me settle on drapes.
I’d love a post on other choices as they relate to black interior/exterior windows. Beyond white, what exterior colors work well? What interior trim works well? Are drywall returns a better choice than painted trim?
We are doing a white house with black windows on the outside, and I’m not completely decided on the interior windows. I do think that black windows were a very standard type for many years as steel was strong and easy to make slimline early on in the Industrial Age. This puts them in the category of “classic” in my book.
You have given me some more things to consider as we make decorating choices and perhaps change the inside to white.
Thank you for your wonderful insight.
When I see those black framed casement windows, I am reminded of the inexpensive steel casement windows in my childhood home (a little tract home built in the late 1950″s!) People had to paint the metal frames, so they were usually painted dark colors! (They would get lots of frost on them in the cold Illinois winters! ) The high end homes had the thicker framed, wood windows. So I have negative connotations with the look of the black casement, or black thin-framed windows–I associate them with “cheap steel windows!” I think the only reason they even became popular, is the necessity for some sort of definition and contrast with the white walls they are usually paired with–white window trim with white walls would be a bit blah! Of course, there is always the “colonial” look of white walls with putty colored trim–but that is a different look and feel entirely.
In architecture school I remember being taught that if your window frames (and mullions and muntins) are a dark color, it tends to stop your eye, rather than drawing your eye outside. This is contrary to what another person ,commenting here earlier, said she was told by her window salesman. Hmmm–what do you think, Maria?
I think that white frames and mullions/muntins do seem to visually” disappear” more and don’t call attention to themselves. When I was going to architecture school in the late 1970’s dark wood windows were popular. Manufacturers were coming out with “clad” wood windows that offered dark brown, paint-free cladding. I’m sure most of you have seen those “bronze” clad windows. Don’t those windows look so dated and dark now to you people?
We recently installed black aluminum-clad windows on our new lake house. They look great with our black siding. On the inside the only place they are painted black is the 12 windows in the lakeside stairwell, which is a focal point of the house. We painted them black because a local, well-respected decorator told me that black windows emphasize and frame the outside view. The windows in the stairwell look out to the beautiful view of the lake, so that is exactly what was needed. And as you suggested, they are uncovered.
This is such a timely post! I am working with a client who has black windows in her townhouse and she hates them. She cannot cover them because they are located high in the downstairs area. The townhouse is two story. The sunlight comes in and bleaches out her furniture so she thought I would have a good suggestion as to what would remedy the situation. First of all her whole track has them and cannot be removed according to her HOA laws. They look classy but are certainly a problem for several reasons. The neighbors can look into her home at night while the lights are on and they are hard to clean. I will send this post to her so that she can read what you have said along with all the comments. I do love the look however!
Congratulations on your good looking class! I know how stoked they must be!
I just noticed that you had two men in your recent class! Woohoo!
Terrific article that explains the whys and becauses.
What a wonderful and helpful post! I have often thought — what do the trendy black windows look like with shades? And now I see — not so great. Really appreciate your sharing — again — your excellent vision.
I am very interested in this discussion because I would like to use black windows in my new build in the NC mountains. We don’t have nearby neighbors but only lovely woods and mountain views so I was planning window coverings only in the bedrooms and one bath. I’ve seen them in other houses in the mountains and, like De has found, the view is terrific through them. I will have just one row of panes at the top so it shouldn’t look as busy as some of the pictures shown. The other thing I have noticed is that using a lighter trim that contrasts with the siding color on the exterior and wall color on the interior seems to make them more attractive to me. They seem less like the high contrast white/black that is so trendy now. What do you think? I have an example from Houzz but can’t figure out way to import it so I’ll include the link. https://www.houzz.com/photo/95775259-intellectual-gray-exterior-san-francisco The trim color in the picture is SW Shojii White.
Yes that is a pretty house for sure! Looks great, Maria
No one has mentioned it, but if you have newer, paintable windows, you should check the window warranty first. We put in Low-E 366 composite replacement windows in 2016, and the warranty is totally voided if the owner paints the frames anything dark. The darker frames absorb too much heat and bust the pane seals. Fortunately we were going with an off white anyway. The warranty wording was pretty scary.
Love the analysis!
Yikes…..thank you for this post! I am in real estate and often advise clients who are building spec homes in the Pebble Beach area of CA. The steel windows are a major trend now (and super expensive!). Your comments make so much sense.
One home we owned in Chicago was a French lannon stone home that had black iron windows (built in the 40’s) and the windows were not that large and they were gorgeous! I am now embarressed to admit we added shutters over some of them…..ugh!
What a great post! I’ve loved the look of black windows for awhile now. I have considered painting the inside of mine black, but I just couldn’t commit. Now I know my instinct has been leading me away from that. I will leave them the natural wood tone that fits my bungalow. As for the exterior, when I replaced the windows with architecturally appropriate ones, I used an wood aluminum clad, and chose a dark red for the aluminum. It looks amazing, and after 10 years I’m still very happy.
I like black windows but I totally agree with they’re not for everyone, just like white interiors or dark interiors are not for everyone. I think the trouble is that most don’t realize that trends can inspire us. However, style is something that develops as we go along and adopt the trends that work for us. Personally, I’ve used many different window colors for clients of mine depending on the context. I think that’s the number one key element to start out with. Is it a traditional home in the countryside or a loft in the city? As long as choices are made bearing in mind the overall context, then very little can go wrong.
This is helpful! Would love a follow up post on what kind of windows you recommend.
When I read this post it immediately brought to mind this beautiful new build white stucco house with black steel windows in my neighborhood. It is (was) stunning but much to my chagrin when I passed by the house this weekend, EVERY window was obscured by inside white plantation shutters. So there is actually something worse than curtains for steel windows!
The first house we bought, back in the early 90’s, had black windows. I didn’t even think about them, it was just a house we liked and could afford. But I grew to hate those windows. I’m a person who loves to look outside, and our lot had lovely trees and a pretty view. But every time I looked out of a window I felt like I was in a prison cell, not a home. I hope I never have to live with black windows again!
I grew up in the 70s and 80s in a west coast style waterfront house with cedar board and batten siding, cedar shake roof and huge black metal windows all around. It was a show house. We had semi-sheer off-white drapes. (And orange shag.) But for a kid living inside, the black metal frames were dark and oppressive, even with wood doors and trim, especially in my green and yellow gingham bedroom. I think you are right that white is best for inside, and that it is a trend. I don’t think I could ever live with them again.
Great article ! I am considering black windows on the interior and exterior. But now I’m back to I’m not sure again. Most of my pins have black windows I love the look !! We are building a new home and hopefully the last one. This will be my 4th build a 1 level kinda of a modern farm house look. I’m having the hardest time trying to figure out what to do with the windows!?
My husband is not a fan of the the black window look interior. We talked about just staining them black and thought that might be a good compromise. Your article makes some very valid points. Thanks
Exact same situation as you. Our 3rd build and I too love the modern farmhouse look — every pin and picture I find I love the black windows. I read this article and you could hear the brakes in my head! Just not sure now and this article is very valid in regards to window coverings and making sure all your decor fits with black/white theme. What kind of windows did you end up choosing? Curious to see how your compromise worked.
The problem is you are showing all the scenarios where they look good and none where they look bad and would back up your statements.
If I want a modern stylish home, I would know not to consult you as every single upmarket modern home I see has large uncovered windows regardless of whether they are black or not. Even upmarket mansions several hundred years old have these. There is nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful home. There are perhaps millions of things that should not be specified if you are looking for an average or low budget home or want to furnish with anything and everything.
On the flip side, if you are advising only people wanting an average home, firstly, why do they need you, an interior designer and secondly, if such a person only can afford a few statement pieces, why are you discouraging something that as you say is bold and stands out?
I’m glad you are calling out the emperor with no clothes. I live in a high end mountain town and every house has black windows. I just don’t see it lasting. They say you don’t see black, your eye looks right past it. Maybe true if the walls are dark. But on a white wall that just isn’t true. It stops your eye and frames the view, as opposed to just blending. I am much more drawn to white and light wood windows, so I will use one of those in the modern home I am designing. (I also predict black window panes are going to be thought of as prison bars eventually.)
I totally disagree. These black windows that you are seeing more than ever are depicting the old leaded glass windows. This window look will never go out of style. Its a very classic look. I wish I had them!
We are building a house and since I now see black windows everywhere, I thought that is what we would select. After reading this article, I am reconsidering. This was so helpful and informative. Thank you.
What a great blog! I have one question. On a red brick classic home, can you put a black door and white windows with black shutters? Does that work to mix black and white on exterior of your home?
I would love to hear your thoughts
Yes. There are many photos online that illustrate this. Hope that helps, Maria
I have to disagree entirely. Curtains look great with black windows, even sheers. Every hotel in the history of ever has black windows with layered curtains. McAlpine-Tankersley decorates so many of their famous black windows with sheer whites, drapes and Roman shades. If you want to “decorate” with blinds, why bother with stylish black?
You saved me from installing black windows! Thank you! So many things I never really considered !
We are renting a vintage apartment with black windows, and it’s a treat! The floors are dark hardwood, the ceilings are high, and there’s lots of white trim everywhere. A really pretty look. No window coverings in the living and dining rooms, but we’re up high enough and set back enough that privacy isn’t too much of an issue. Thanks Maria for all your great content!
Wow Maria, you are GODSEND! I was just going to order my double hung windows with grids top and bottom of my living room (in an old brick triplex in NDG, Montreal) in BLACK….but after reading your in depth article you really cool up my foolish ardour…my home is 120 years old, and the windows not so large and with grids ….the feeling of incarceration would have weighted on me for decades! White WASH it will be!
THANK YOU A MILLION!
Your article on black windows was the most helpful one I have ever read. I was about to submit a huge window order on a new build yesterday with dark ash window sashes inside and out. I had been having misgivings, not wanting to bow to a trend–You made me rethink how these windows would look. Some face the lake and will be uncovered, but the rest will need shades etc in bedrooms and baths. I am going white on the inside and still will enjoy the dark on the outside! Best advice ever online! Thank you. Mary
I spent two years growing up in Mexico. It was a beautiful green subtropical area. I remember my grandmothers house and other relatives homes. Even though I was young, I remember all the black metal window frames, even the 3 story home we lived in, had a wonderful courtyard with many thin black framed windows from the bedrooms facing the courtyard. I remember thinking how thin the frames were, elegant and inobtrusive. These were old homes with many styles of decor. I don’t think that it really matters, even long past the trend. As long as the window frames are NOT the focal point. People become obsessed with matching and design and make the trend the focus. I love the new black and white homes with their Carrera marble counters. But I am always wondering , “How would I warm it up , so it won’t look like a “please don’t touch and can you remove your shoes” look.
And unfortunately, MOST WINDOWS that are being installed are NOT thin and unobtrusive. They are a huge focal point of every room which is why I wrote this post. Thanks for your comment, Maria
I wish I had found you before installing all new black window frames on my first floor and top master bedroom/loft. For several months now I cannot commit to selecting blinds/shades, as it all presents mismatched. Based on your article I would have made even more errors. I need a little privacy soon as these temporary faux blinds I currently have in my master look ridiculous and keep falling down. Any suggestions on how to move forward? The front of my house still has the older white frames. I plan to replace those. Should I stick with white? Is that okay to mix the widow frame colors? I Installed a new black iron front door. I needed someone like you in my life last year when I started this money pit renovation (I’m sure you hear this often!). I follow you in Instagram. I enjoy all your stories.
I think your windows can be different from the front to the back since you’ll never see them all at the same time. And you’ll need drapes. That’s the best way to cover black windows in my opinion. Hope that helps, Maria
This was the most helpful article I’ve found black windows. Black will not work for me, and I know that now because of this greAt article.
This is so helpful! I’m starting another beach rental house and, of course, was toying with the idea of black windows. Until I read your post…no window treatments??? At the beach? in a bedroom facing the sunrise??? On a budget? (ie: white wood blinds)…
You just solved a huge design choice for me. Thank you!
You Are. So. Right. I am one of those people who is enamored with black windows (planning on building or gutting a house in the near future) but the constraints of everything you mentioned does not make them a sensible choice for me where I am looking to live. No matter how desperately I would like to have them.
Now if I had 3 different homes, maybe one of them would have black windows
Thank you! I am building a beach house and so tempted to do black windows (or at least black interior trim around windows and doors), but I’m worried it will not look good in all lights or that it will distract from the colors of the ocean/sky view. Thoughts?
Would black framed windows look good in a coastal themed interior with mostlyf white and blue and rattan
Jay, what’s wrong with the Anderson 100s?
Thank you so much for your insightful article! I’m glad it’s still online. I am one of the many who have felt the strong lure of oh-so-elegant black aluminum windows. Our home is in hot southern Texas and very close to the Gulf so we need high impact low-E windows. I think vinyl would be our best bet and somehow I don’t picture black windows in vinyl. Our house will be white stucco and the interior will be white. I wonder if gray windows will look outdated in ten years…
I am in the process of preparing plans for a new home build, and my husband just loves the black windows. However, we soon found out just how expensive they are compared to white. When you are on a budget as we are, we had to rethink black altogether.
So happy I stumbled upon this Maria, we are in the very early stages of planning a new build on a lake on Vancouver Island, and after reading this I am now sure that black windows would be the wrong way to go. Thank you!
I just installed black windows in a 1790 white farmhouse I’m renovating. We took out the tiny farmhouse windows and put in huge windows. I kept the interior white but the exterior black. I love them and am so glad I dove in (and did white on the inside – I like to use warm colors which would look strange with black and I thought I’d grow tired of the black and white look). Black is actually very classic if you look at early 1800 homes and fits with the period details.
I did black windows with maple trim and cabnettes, I’m now confused with the look ! Help!!!
Thank you for this insightful article! I have been wanting to switch my windows out to black but now I am reconsidering. I appreciate that you use a classic perspective for more permanent fixtures. A lot of people don’t consider that and windows are something I will have to live with for a LONG time (forever)!
I’m remodeling my kitchen and wanted black windows but just found out unless I wait 3 months I can only get black outside and white inside. It’s an old farmhouse and now I don’t know. Help
On the topic of repeating black – if one uses black and white quartz counters in a classic kitchen (white cabinets, backsplash and trim; wood look floor, brushed nickel hardware) is it necessary to repeat the black elsewhere in the room? Same question for a bathroom that is white with brushed nickel hardware but has a black and white floor.
Thank you, as always, Maria, for all you do to educate us.
Love your lessons! Trying to renovate a home that has Pennsylvania stone partially on the exterior. Want to do new roof; new front porch; started new windows (not black); etc., etc.
Great thinking points! Thank you!
I didn’t write this at the time, but an earlier piece about why black windows don’t work saved me from asking for them for 39 windows and five doors in my house! I sometimes see them on design blogs (and in other houses near me) and feel a tinge of regret. But THIS post is curing me. I love my perfect-for-my-home white windows.
Interesting when thinking about drapes. I don’t feel that every room needs drapes or shades for that matter. I don’t live in the country and am not bothered by “uncovered windows” in my suburban neighborhood. We have a few rooms with wooden shades, but I don’t think it is necessary for every street facing room to be covered (bedrooms and bathrooms OK, I will give you that)-and most of my friends don’t have them either-maybe this is regional (midwest) thing or related to age (in my 40’s) or house size–I would love to know. Maybe it’s because our living areas (living room/kitchen) are in the back of the house and not really easily seen from the street-IDK. I definitely don’t feel like I want them or need them in every room, but I do have white windows. I personally don’t like the look of closed drapes from the inside or the outside. Hummmm
Maria, I am not a fan of the sequins. Mostly because it’s tone deaf to what so many ppl are going thru economically right now, facing unemployment and evictions while the stock market continues to soar to breathtaking new highs. Anything that looks like what the elites would have chosen in the hunger games is just not sympatico with what so many Americans are facing. Keep it simple, classic, timeless, and doesn’t run wealth in the face of those who are struggling.
Ridiculous. If Maria finds joy in wearing a FABRIC (it’s not the crown jewels, you know), then who are YOU – to tell her she shouldn’t wear it? I hope you can tolerate beautiful flowers and art – would be a pity for you to have lost all joy just because you are bitter. You have no idea what people give to charity, what goes on in their lives, and no right to judge.
As usual, lovely blog post with tons of info.
This is such good information. I installed black aluminum-clad windows on a lake house that is painted a very dark navy-black (depending on the sunlight). I think they look great. The interior trim of the windows are wood, so they can be painted any color. Most of them are painted the light grey trim color. There is one wall of large windows in the stairwell which overlooks the lake. They are painted black. The surrounding walls are white and there are no coverings. I had a decorator tell me that if you want to highlight a view, paint the window trim black. It worked for me!
We are building a home up on a hillside that overlooks a river and mountains with no homes behind us. I agonized between black or wood windows (the prices were similar). I’ve had white windows for years, so I was ready for something different. We wanted no trim around the windows (just sheet-rock return and a windowsill with an apron at the bottom) for a clean, uncluttered minimalist look. I also wanted our budget dollars to go towards more windows and less trim, especially because we have so many large windows. I will be using drapes on the windows on the front of the house at night, for both privacy and noise absorption. We are painting the walls SW pure white because we didn’t want the view or the art work to compete with colored walls. However, I will miss how white windows bounce more sunlight into the house (a tip that I learned from watching Martha Stewart).
Maria made an excellent point about black exterior windows looking like black holes at night. I’ve been considering black windows for my new build and I had not considered that! What I DID consider, and what gave me pause, is whether black INTERIOR windows look like black holes at night. I have white wood divided light windows and almost no window coverings (nice leafy private lot). At night when it’s dark outside, my white windows stand out against the black night. No black holes. Can anyone comment on that? I have NEVER seen a photo of an interior at night. Only exteriors with the inside all lit up. Thanks! Roxanne
FANTASTIC article, as we are getting new windows and this helped me so much!!! Thank you!!
This is an old thread but why aren’t “black hole” windows a plus? I live in a semi urban area where houses are close and people are darkening their windows so that others can’t see in. Looks private and normal around here fyi.
Nice article written with photographs to suit the argument. Every photo and example shows black windows with mullions and/or heavy trim, shutters, and frames. There are no photos of simple, thin, black-framed windows which are both timeless and beautiful. With a white drywall wrap or casement, the black frame would disappear behind an inset blind, if that was the window covering that was selected. Don’t get me wrong, I like white windows too. But I think you have to consider all of the product offerings and the look of the house that you want before you simply decide not to use a black window.
I just purchased White windows with four squares on the top only Single Hung. I look forward to getting them installed. Had a terrible time trying to choose between Black or White. Sure happy I made the decision to go White one I know I will not regret especially since darker paint colors are coming back.
I selected white windows the main reason, I love to change wall color every few years. With black windows you must keep the walls light to maybe a beige color. Dark paint colorls look awful with black windows. I didnt want to get stuck having to throw black in all my rooms to make the black windows really work well in the room.
Our house is 16 years old Mediterranean style with black windows and we don’t have a lot of issues suggested here. (The entire neighborhood has black windows).
I do agree the black inside is bossy and has been challenging to work with. However, we don’t have issues with “black holes” etc from the street or the black showing dust. What I will say is the black moulding around the window has faded from the sun and fixing this is difficult.
Also, Maria, one of the images above by Jess Cathell actually has dark olive pillows (not black). I think this probably still helps pull in the black from the windows.
Such a helpful post! Thanks you!
Black windows are a trendy and sophisticated design choice, and Maria Killam’s blog post provides some great examples and inspiration.
A very good analysis in detail of why black windows may not be a good choice. I live in Westport Ct where black window disease is rampant leaving our town full of funereal fenestration, the stark unfinished look of the soulless voids of despair I find disturbing. They are the avocado appliance, the mullet, nay Edsel of the 2020’s.