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As much as we like to think that first impressions start in the entryway, the exterior of your home says a lot more about you thank you think it does. To the expertly trained eye, not even a perfectly manicured lawn can mask, say, a poor paint job, sloping roofline, or mismatched windows. Of all the essential makings of a well-executed exterior (color, symmetry, scale), contrast is chief among them. And, of course, no opposing pair brings the drama quite like black and white.

Be it a sweet countryside cottage or swanky city townhouse, once together, this classic marriage of light and dark radiates authority. No matter which shade takes center stage (a predominantly white scheme lends itself to a clean and warm aesthetic, while a strong black facade may evoke notions of masculinity and minimalism), this iconic color couple is primed for high impact. Read on to see the homes that conquer the statement-worthy look.

Cool, calm, and collected, Julie O’Rourke and Anthony Esteves’s 600-square-foot coastal Maine cabin is a living picture of elevated minimalism. In obvious opposition with the home’s dominant matte black facade, the crisp pop of white acts as an open invitation to enter the uninhibited escape. Who needs a “welcome” mat, when the front door says it all?

Blurring the lines between Scandinavian-cool and industrial-farmhouse, designer Elizabeth Diomede’s home in Naperville, Illinois subtly straddles stylistic boundaries—and the exterior is no exception. Given the structure’s almost exclusively-white composition, the black trim along the windows and front door add much-needed definition and depth while also complementing the home’s contemporary Nordic-meets-American midwest aura.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes we can’t help ourselves. When it came to making over their dream fixer-upper in St. Augustine, FL, Rachel Gant and Andrew Demin—the creative duo and founders behind YIELD Design—an exterior facelift was high on the priority list. Though their charming black abode seems to effortlessly blend in with its dark, lush surroundings, brief pockets of white give its location away.

Okay, so, this black veers predominantly toward a deep forest green, but the attention to contrast is all the same. Aside from playing up the relationship between light and dark, the beauty of this dreamy farmhouse exists in the details. 

Talk about a power move. To all passerby lucky enough to grace its path, this Park Slope townhouse is bound to stir a memorable reaction, not to mention stop you dead in your tracks. Alone, this spot would still surely take your breath away, but when viewed solely in relation with its fellow neighbors, its design takes on an entirely new meaning. 

Opting for an exclusively whitewashed facade, this Cali-cool abode jumpstarts the drama instead with black paned glass doors. While the grid-like effect created by this indoor-outdoor scene is a visual treat, what we love most about this space is how the two-toned color scheme continues on into the kitchen.

To say that we are totally smitten with this sweet California home would be an understatement. Our love for this beautifully balanced exterior can largely be attributed to its perfect symmetry. Oh, and those glossy black shutters!

If there’s one geographic region seasoned in the art of decorating with black and white, it’s Scandinavia. This Icelandic getaway, aptly-titled the “Black House,” appears to be in happy rebellion with its snowy backdrop. A contradiction as blatant as this only makes us want to huddle inside with a cup of hot chocolate.

When making the trek down to this tiny hillside home, one may feel tempted to wonder if a cuter cottage has ever existed. Swimming in a sea of leafy greens, this dreamy Irish getaway exudes pure bliss.

Maybe it’s the allure of the landscape or the temptation to seek solace somewhere new, but we wouldn’t mind camping out in Joshua Tree if it meant we could crash somewhere as inspiring as this. Unlike many desert homes that tend to blend in with their environment, this dynamic abode offers a more modern take on arid living.

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If you weren’t quite sure what it meant to have “curb appeal,” consider yourself informed. Between its impeccable attention to detail (note the rich, lace-like woodwork) and adorable balcony, this Victorian-style townhouse looks as though it was lifted straight from the pages of your favorite storybook

Want more exterior inspiration? 

3 Ways to Give Your Exterior a Facelift

7 Lavish Outdoor Spaces That Belong on Pinterest

15 Reasons to Paint Your Front Door

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