by Michel Van Devender

Black House Obsessed

Welcome to Black House Blue Sky! Hi, I’m Michel, and I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve always had a fascination with black. Whether it’s the little, wardrobe-staple black dress or the stars magically dancing in the pitch black sky, I love the depth, mystery, neutrality, versatility and grounding effect of black. For years, nordic design publications have featured black houses, painted out of function (and probably form for their beauty – imagine a black house contrasted against the white snow) to attract and absorb heat in a frigid climate. If you’re interested in venturing down a rabbit hole, you can find endless examples on Pinterest

In recent years, more and more dark-hued exteriors have been popping up all over the U.S., many of which are black – soft black, dark black and every shade in between. My design love for the black exterior runs deep as I opted for black on my own house, never second guessing or looking back. Black also tends to work well on many different house styles as you’ll see in the images below. When contrasted with a clear blue sky and a lush green landscape, it’s my idea of design perfection. So, love them or hate them, I think they are a classic and are here to stay! 

Why A Blog?

When I first had the thought of doing a blog, it was rooted in a desire to inspire others by sharing all of my creative loves and passions, in one place, documenting the unfolding journey. I really didn’t know how this would happen, or what exactly it would look like. What I did know from the onset is that it would be my sincere hope to inspire and help others, creatively or otherwise. I wanted the blog to be image driven, reflecting my lifestyle and my love for design and all things beautiful, juxtaposed with authentic copy, telling the story of my life – the good, the bad, the real and the untidy, emotionally frayed parts too. 

I’m A Quirky, Hot Mess

If you ever look at my photographs and graphics and think she must have it all together, I do NOT! Please know that most all of my images are edited to reflect my aesthetic and are part of my artist expression. On a really good day when I don’t feel like I’m going crazy, I’m still a clumsy, quirky, hot mess. I’m an analytical over thinker. I sometimes have a difficult time focusing and completing whatever task is at hand. I’m introverted and have social anxiety. I’m also capable, positive, curious, resourceful and creative. 

On occasion, I do some pretty amazing things! I’m a mom of three, mind-blowingly wonderful boys and a wife to the sweetest, most patient guy. I’m always a parent and wife in training, trying to navigate and learn as I go. I love my people fiercely and tirelessly. I may be an over sharer… guess we’ll see. Through it all, I’m literally just trying to figure out what and who I’m being called to be.

Putting Myself Out There

The almost year-long process of creating Black House Blue Sky has been challenging. There have been so many steps – missteps, sidesteps, steps forwards, steps backwards. There have been starts, stops, detours and struggles along the way. All those months ago when I naively and enthusiastically set out to construct and build this creative idea I had for the blog, I knew absolutely nothing about setting up a website, a blog and had not written anything consistently outside of an email in years…. hello ginormous, steep learning curve. 

I’ve always prided myself in being up for a good challenge, but bringing this idea to life triggered a paralyzing fear of failure, judgment and the “I’m not good enough” feeling. The putting myself “out there” has been a road block to my forward movement and progress. I’ve felt like a solo act on an empty stage delivering a bad rendition of an unintelligible soliloquy, with a spotlight illuminating my scars and the parts of myself that have been hidden from sight. There have been too many days than I’d like to admit that I’ve been sidelined, wrestling with bouts of self doubt. 

Admittedly, like many, I’m my own worst enemy and a skillful master of constructing a critical and irrational narrative in my head. And then, there’s that caught-off-guard moment when I realized that constructing the blog is not the hard part. Eureka moment! The hard part for me is getting to the place where I’m comfortable letting go and putting myself out there, exposed for others to see.

The Real Work

Through all of this, I’ve been working to intentionally counter the relentless shit- show conversation I’ve been having with a big dose of self love, compassion, positive reframing and prayer. This experience has pushed me to get curious and honest about my fear of judgment and failure… and my perfectionism, facing and embracing that dark, shadow side. There’s freedom in learning to love all of our parts. 

Believe me, this isn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve been here before. Slipping back into old, toxic patterns and behaviors happens. That’s what makes us human. I mean, I’ve read all the books before (special thanks to Brene Brown) and done a lot of previous work. 

Honestly, the letting go of perfectionism is not the easiest nor quickest work, but I know it’s worth the ongoing investment. I’m worth the investment. It is also an ongoing process that takes time and patience. I do know for sure that perfectionism has never served me well. It inhibits me from being who I am, from being seen and from living fully into the imperfect human God created me to be, beautiful wounds, scars, messiness and all. 

I’m also working on having some freaking grace for myself. Grace to make mistakes, to not have all the answers and to zig and zag on this journey. Aren’t we all deserving of that? After all, each and every one of us is a work in progress – exploring, floundering and faltering, trying to figure out our place in the world as a beloved child of God. 

A New Beginning

So in more ways than one, I begin anew… a new blog, new work, renewed thoughts and patterns. This blog has been almost a year in the making from conception to this date, finally clicking the WordPress “enabled” red button. I’m incredibly thankful for this day and for the many people who have supported and cheered me on during this process. They have all showed up and been there at the exact moment I needed the encouragement. I’m literally doing a little, happy, celebratory dance over here!  Hope you’ll join me as I begin this great, new adventure, learning and growing as I go forth into the unknown!!!




Some of My Favorite Black Houses




Photography credits in order of appearance: Unknown via Small House Bliss; Felix Michaud via UncrateKalle Sanner via @est_livingUnknown via Design Milk; Philip Fics via LonnyMet Wotkjaer via StylejuicerUnknown via @surfcollectivenycAndrew Hamilton via 500pxBen Hosking via @est_livingUnknown via Joli Joli DesignEd Reeve via  ArchDailyUnknown via Bloglovin’


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Teresa January 16, 2020 - 8:37 pm

Congratulations on your blog! Very well written. Looking forward to your creative views & journey. ❤️

Michel Van Devender January 17, 2020 - 4:04 pm

Thank you so much Teresa!!! I appreciate you checking it out and following along! 🖤💙

April Cooke January 17, 2020 - 6:55 pm

I love your inspiration story! You are not alone in your struggles…I have those relentlous shit-show conversations with myself all the time! lol! I’m proud of you lady! Love you, Cuz!

Michel Van Devender January 18, 2020 - 7:44 pm

Awww…thank you so much April! Much appreciated! Let’s change those shit-show conversations… we deserve better 🤝. I love you too!!! 🖤💙

Kathy D January 21, 2020 - 8:55 am

Michel, so happy you put yourself out there!

Michel Van Devender January 22, 2020 - 9:30 am

Thank you for your support! 🖤💙

Erin January 21, 2020 - 10:24 am

When I started reading your Inspiration Behind Black House Blog, I felt like I was reading about myself. I am glad to have stumbled upon you & look forward to watching your platform develop. Kudos to you!

Michel Van Devender January 22, 2020 - 9:29 am

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment Erin! So glad to have you here! We are most definitely not alone in the challenges we experience, and I think it helps to know that! 🖤💙


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