Why is Sunset Boulevard in such a dark mood?

Nov 27, 2012

Shades of black and gray spreading along Sunset.

After used and vintage clothing retailer Crossroads Trading Co.  opened a store at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Virgil Avenue earlier this year, the formerly buff-colored shopping center was suddenly covered in shades of battleship gray and black.  Meanwhile, across the street,  a coat of jet-black paint has been applied to the brick facade of a new coffee house under construction.  The two buildings join the many other Sunset Boulevard shops, bars and  restaurants in Echo Park, Los Feliz and Silver Lake that have gone black or dark gray in recent years.  Black buildings and storefronts can also be found in many other Eastside neighborhoods, and the ebony palate is also now being applied to homes and apartments.

The trend favoring dark colors may look hip but some of those darker shades may not be well suited to L.A.’s bright sun shine.

“I am not a fan of gray,” Gere Kavanaugh, a consultant who advises developers on building colors. “Gray is fabulous in Seattle and the East.  It  has more bounce.  The way they use gray here is more flat.”

Paint colors come and go, with dark earth tones rising to popularity during the 1970s before giving way to lighter shades. Now, black and other dark colors are back.  For business owners, a coat of black paint may not only seem chic but it attracts attention, especially on a block of buff-colored buildings.  “People are going to black and brown so they will be noticed,”  said Kavanaugh, who lives in Angeleno Heights.

Cyrus Farooqi of Par Paint in Echo Park said gray as well as black have become increasingly popular choices within the past five years, with building and store owners taking their cue from the colors they see in apparel and other elements of consumer culture.

“Look at the popularity of black clothes and even black cars,” said Farooqi. “Blacks/grays can be bold yet mysterious,shabby and chic, simple yet complex, sleek, and classic. It’s contemporary, it’s cool, and awesomely fashionable.”

Kathy King, advertising and design manager for Crossroads, said the used and vintage retailer said the colors of its new Sunset Boulevard store reflect its corporate colors, which are primarily orange, black, white and gray.

“We have been painting our buildings gray lately because it is a fashionable, chic color,” King said. “We think our customers like it.”

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