Once you start looking for them, you find them popping up everywhere — dark gray houses with snow white trim.

The shift toward darker home colors began a few years back, a pendulum-swing from years of "Bettendorf beige," and now the dark-gray-white-trim look is commanding attention from locations all over the Quad-Cities.

A common denominator of many of the homes is that all have white pillars. A strong white element for contrast — either as pillars, shutters, a large door or extensive trim — is a key part of the look.

One of the first homes in a prominent location to go dark gray was a former Von Maur house off East River Drive heading into the Village of East Davenport. A big, pillared house that had been white since it was built suddenly turned charcoal gray under the new ownership of James Huskamp.

Truth be told, neighbors approached Huskamp when he began renovations, inquiring about his plans and slipping in a plug for traditional white.

"It was like it was taboo to paint it anything but white," Huskamp said. "But when it's white-on-white, you don't see all the details of the house. With the gray, all the other details pop out."

As the gray began taking over more and more of the house, neighbors changed their minds and told Huskamp how much they liked his new choice.

"You shouldn't be afraid," Huskamp said of a nontraditional color choice.

Candy-cane house: Farther east on East River Drive in Bettendorf, Mike and Lorena Bush are taking a cue from Huskamp and painting their house — also with pillars — the same shade of Sherwin Williams gray as Huskamp used. They know it's the same because they knocked on Huskamp's door and asked him.

The Bush home is the one with pillars that are wrapped at Christmas time in red fabric like candy canes, a tradition started years ago by Quad-City Times columnist Bill Wundram and his wife, Helen.

The Bushes feel a sense of stewardship toward the house, as though it isn't simply their house, but also the house of people who lived there before them and who will live their after. Thus, "I called Bill ahead of time and got his blessing," Mike Bush said. 

Still, the couple had misgivings. Mike Bush decided to begin painting on the backside "so that nobody else would see it in case we didn't like it," he said.

And, yes, Mike Bush — crazy busy as he is with his job — decided to do the work himself on nights and weekends because he couldn't find anyone who would agree to brush on the paint rather than spray. "I don't think (sprayed paint) adheres nearly as well as when it's brushed on," Bush said. "I want it done right."

Prep has included sanding with a belt sander, then priming with a light gray Killz brand. Bush can reach the south (river-facing) and north sides of the house with his 30-foot ladder, but he rents a high-reach lift for the east and west sides.

The Bushes, too, have noticed an uptick in dark gray houses since they made the switch themselves. One place they've seen them is along River Drive in Moline.

"It works very well around the water," Mike Bush said of the gray and white combination. "It has a New England kind of look."

Eisenhower neighborhood: Neighborhoods away from the river are seeing the change, too.

Tony and Linda Haut, who live near Davenport's Eisenhower Elementary School, also are painting their house dark gray.

Their original intention was to have their wood-and-brick home sided with a type of material other than wood, and Linda had even picked out a dark gray swatch that she really liked.

She took the added step of driving around until she found a property off Eastern Avenue that matched the swatch, just to be sure she liked the color when it covered an entire house.

But when the siding estimate came it at around $18,000, the couple decided to get a bid for painting instead. That, too, turned out to be more than the life-long do-it-yourselfers wanted to pay — about $5,000 — so they are doing the work themselves. They estimate it will cost about $700. Their paint is the Pittsburgh Paramount brand in a shade called "weathered gray."  

"Tony's still a little skeptical on the darkness, but I absolutely love the color," Linda Haut said. Once the job is complete, she intends to paint the front door yellow as a finishing touch.

East Locust Street renovation: Chad and Meghan Howell bought a late 1800s house on Davenport's East Locust Street with the idea of "flipping" it. But once they got started, they liked it so much they decided they would live there.

Chad Howell chose the gray and white color scheme because the couple was looking for something different. They'd seen the combination on television home shows and the smartphone Houzz app that is a trove of home ideas.

The house previously was yellow with green trim. They had their house sided with vinyl, not painted.

Bettendorf ranch: Jonathan and Alex Wenger were looking for their first home when they were attracted to the contemporary dark gray color scheme of a ranch house in Bettendorf.

The home originally was white with yellow shutters but had been redone.

When the Wengers decided to fence their yard, they considered white vinyl to complete the look, but ultimately decided on cedar instead.

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