Once restricted to downtown lofts and West Coast contemporaries, black window frames have made their way to heartland ’burbs.
Black has become the color of choice for window frames in high-end homes throughout the country, propelled by the color’s contemporary look and by an ongoing interest in “modern farmhouse” style.
“It’s a huge trend,” said Melissa Berger, a product manager at Pella Corp. in Iowa, maker of Pella windows and doors.
“Even I am surprised at how quickly it has become a standard.”
Berger said the trend started in sleek modern homes, especially on the West Coast, with their thin black metal frames on both doors and windows. The look got a boost from urban industrial lofts and the ubiquitous farmhouse style popularized by HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, where black frames stand in sharp contrast to white siding.
“I started seeing the trend around 2015,” said Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design for Marvin Windows and Doors in Minnesota. “We had glimpses in fringe architecture in 2014, and it picked up steam in 2015 and hit the mainstream in 2016. This year, it’s not slowing down. Black is big.”
The number of black window frames sold by Pella and Marvin has tripled the past five years Marvin and Berger said. Black is now available across the Marvin Windows line.
As president of Compass Homes, in Powell, Mark Brauns-dorf has installed black or dark-bronze window frames on several central Ohio houses, including one featured in the Parade of Homes a few years ago.
“About 10 years ago is when it started, but it really took hold in the last three or four years, when manufacturers figured out how to coat a vinyl window in a darker color, instead of white and tan, which is all you saw for a long time,” Braunsdorf said.
With their strange ability to both add drama and seemingly disappear on the outside, black frames are compatible with almost any architecture.
“When we first started seeing it, it was more contemporary, more modern, which is not the norm in the Midwest,” Berger said. “But now ... we’re seeing it on everything from traditional lines to uber-modern and uber-contemporary lines.”
In central Ohio, black frames are most frequently found on modern farmhouse exteriors, with their light — often white — vertical siding and simple trim.
“People especially like it on the farmhouse elevation, which is very popular in central Ohio now,” said David Balcerzak, vice president of sales and marketing for Columbus-based M/I Homes, which offers black frames as an option on its high-end Showcase and Regency lines.
“People will do a white or light-gray exterior, and the black frames really pop.”
Black frames started on the outside of the house, but have now moved indoors as well. Pella, Marvin and other manufacturers offer windows with an interior black wood frame and an exterior sheathed in a black composite material.
So far, however, black interior frames are rare in central Ohio.
Part of that is because of cost. Builders say black frames — even on the exterior only — can cost at least 20 percent more than white frames, which scares off some buyers.
“If the price was the same, you’d see a lot more of it,” Balcerzak said. “It all comes down to price.”
Industry experts expect other window-frame colors to emerge, along with frames that feature black sashes and a different color trim. But in the meantime, Marvin said, “I believe black will be around for a while.”