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Tips for Choosing Window Shutters to Complement Your Home’s Architecture

Add a Decorative Touch to Your Home with Stylish Window Shutters

 

When I first moved into my neighborhood a few years ago, I was fascinated by a charming one-story house with interesting windows framed by brick-red wood panels. As I walked down the street, I was so excited to see more houses with the same panels – but in different colors, sizes, and shapes. After all of my years of city life and high-rise apartments, this was my introduction to window shutters – those attractive exterior features that stop passersby in their tracks to take a second look at a particular home.

White cottage with window shutters painted dark gray to match the porch swings

Stop and take a look at this delightful white cottage with its landscaped front yard and window shutters painted to match the porch swings. The dark shade of the shutters is a perfect complement to the white walls of the cottage and the gray tone on the stairs and floor (courtesy of Pinterest).     

 

Shutters are believed to have originated in the 15th Century in Ancient Greece, when rocks were placed in the gaps of the window spaces to provide light and regulate the Mediterranean heat. It’s speculated that the first shutters were constructed with fixed louvers made out of marble – and then replaced by wood. Throughout the years, more materials were used – including engineered wood, laminate, vinyl, and powder-coated aluminum. You might be thinking,”Do I need shutters?” and if so, “What would make the best shutters for my home?”

 

 

Window Dressing

Take a look at your house and, especially, the windows. Are they too plain and unadorned? Are you ready for a makeover to focus on the home’s architectural style and create an eye-catching and fascinating exterior façade using home shutters?

White 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Country style home plan #117-1128 with black shutters

Dramatic lighting at night accentuates the effect of the shutters on these windows on a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Country style home, making them stand out against the mostly white palette of the house and complementing the dark roof (House Plan #117-1128).  

 

Before you jump into the project, here are some aspects to consider.

1.  The all-important budget - As in any project – whether it’s “do-it-yourself” or with the help of a contractor – be sure that your budget can support it from start to finish. Expect to spend between $300-$935, depending on the number of windows, size, shape, and materials you choose. According to Home Advisor, homeowners can spend as low as $150 to a high of $1500 to install exterior window shutters.  

2.  Decide what type of shutter is best suited to your home’s style. And depending on the region and its climate, homeowners can choose from a variety of residential shutters – in all kinds of styles and combinations – to adorn their windows.  

  • Panel Shutters – From the flat to the raised and recessed variety, panel shutters are most common in colder regions where snow, ice, and heavy winds can damage window frames and glass.

Brick center-hall Colonial style home plan #168-1138 with black panel window shutters

Black panel shutters – set against a brick façade – provide an attractive contrast to highlight windows of this 4-bedroom, 3.5 bath Traditional style center-hall Colonial home (House Plan #168-1138). 

 

  • Louver Shutters – One of the more popular choices for windows and doors in American homes, louvers originally applied to a turret or a domelike lantern set on roofs of medieval European buildings for ventilation. 

Today, louver window shutters are used for both the interior and exterior of homes. The overlapping horizontal slats on the same frame – sometimes used in combination with paneled shutters – create a detailed design that adds to the overall look of the home. Working louver shutters (not just decorative) can open and close or remain at a fixed angle.

Porch on white house with green louver window shutters

Green louver shutters – of the traditional variety – give the porch on this Farmhouse style home a colorful decorative trim (courtesy of The Louver Shop).   

 

  • Board-and-Batten Shutters – Constructed from individual wood boards joined together with shorter crosspieces – called battens – this type of shutter is a versatile option that can be cut into various shapes based on the curves around a window. Board-and-batten shutters can fit into the rustic look of cabins, cottages, and farmhouses, as well as the more-classic European, Tudor, and Mission styles.

Brick European style house plan #193-1066 with arched windows and wooden board-and-batten shutters

Arched windows with brick detailing on the top are framed by classic but charming wooden board-and-batten shutters. See on a detail of the garage, the shutters complete the delightful look of this 3-bedroom, 2-bath European home done in the Fresh Country style (House Plan #193-1066). 

 

  • Bermuda or Bahama Shutters open outward like awnings. The slats on these push-out shutters are connected at the top of the window – instead of the side like standard louvered or panel shutters. Ideal for coastal, beach and tropical homes, Bermuda shutters serve as protection from the heat, provide privacy allows cool breezes into the home.

Black Bermuda style window shutters on white house

Black Bermuda or Bahama shutters frame the wooden front door of this beach home (courtesy of 41 West).  

 

  • Mission or Craftsman Style Shutters emphasize the clean lines and classic simplicity and use of natural materials common to the Arts and Crafts movement. Designs are generally achieved with layered wood cut to shape and overlaid on another board of wood.

Craftsman-inspired house plan #142-1168 with Mission style window shutters

The classic lines and simple but striking design of Mission style shutters frame the glass-paned windows of a charming Craftsman-inspired home with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. A pair of long windows with the same shutter pattern flank the front door (House Plan #142-1168).

 

  • Plantation Shutters derived their name from the old Southern plantations that used wider and taller louver shutters. These were movable louvered shutters installed for decoration and protection from the elements. Plantation shutters allowed people to open the louvers for the view or close them at night for privacy. These shutters are common in the Southern states, Arizona and California.

White door-size Plantation shutters in a kitchen leading to an outdoor space

Louvered plantation shutters connect the kitchen of this home to the outdoor space. The wide slats allow abundant light and breezes into the home. For privacy, the slats are closed at night (courtesy of Pinterest). 

 

3.  What material fits your budget?  From cost-effective vinyl to the more expensive cedar and other kinds of wood, there are different choices to refresh your home’s exterior and add to its value, character, and unique qualities.

  • Wood is the most popular because of its versatility. It can be cut, stained, sealed and painted in many ways for a variety of designs and colors. Cedar, cypress, and pine create stylish shutters.
  • Engineered wood uses a series of joints that are paired together for a fashionable, sturdy look.
  • Laminate is best for areas where there is a lot of rain because laminate handles precipitation well.
  • Vinyl can handle the heat of the sun and is mostly recommended for properties where the sun might be rather bright. Vinyl scratches easily and should be kept away from abrasive materials. 
  • Powder-coated aluminum also gives a sturdy look and can be painted in a variety of ways.

 

4.  Make sure that the shutters fit your windows – Each shutter should match the length of the window (excluding trim) and be approximately one-half of the window's width (again excluding trim). Also think about spaces between windows when measuring for shutter widths.

Dark louver window shutters against a white background

These louvered shutters are a perfect fit for the picturesque windows – matching the length of the window trim and the window’s width (courtesy of Bob Vila).  

 

5.  Choose shutters that match your home’s architectural style – Remember that you are creating an exterior façade that aims to fascinate and captivate the imagination. So, be sure your shutters match your home’s style and geographic region; and fit your windows’ shape and size.  

  • Arts & Crafts/Craftsman – While Mission shutters are the likely choice because of the simple and clean lines, there are other styles that can complement Arts & Crafts and Craftsman homes. For example, board-and-batten, louver, and even Bahama shutters work with these designs.

Craftsman style house plan #153-1781 with natural wood board-and-batten window shutters

Board-and-batten shutters that match the siding and columns are an interesting element of this 2-story, 4-bedroom Craftsman style home (House Plan #153-1781). 

 

  • Bungalow/Cape Cod/Cottage/Farmhouse plans can be adorned with a variety of window-shutter styles. For a rustic feel, there is the board and batten. And for a more formal finish, raised-panel, louver, or combination shutters are perfect selections.

Porch with natural wood rocking chairs and sage-color window shutters

Raised-panel shutters with cutouts work well on the windows of this cottage. The color combinations of the fixtures and furnishings  – light brown rocking chairs, brown and black ceiling fan, and sage window shutters – are very pleasing to the eye (courtesy of Old House).   

Cottage home plan #142-1096 with Bungalow inspiration and board-and-batten sutters

With its warm pastel shades highlighted by the earth tones of the porch furniture and the board and batten window shutters, this 2-story, 3-bedroom Cottage style home with Bungalow influences presents a delightful and welcoming picture (House Plan #142-1096).

 

  • Colonial (Federal, Georgian) – One of the most timeless styles, the Colonial home is simply and efficiently designed. The signature large columns supporting a covered porch, symmetrical windows and dormers are some of its endearing features. With its classic clean lines, the Colonial home can be decorated with different attractive shutters. Generally, the first floor windows have panel shutters and the second level, equipped with louvers for more ventilation.   

Classic Colonial home includes lower-level panel shutters and upper louvered ones.

A classic Colonial design includes panel shutters on the lower level and louver ones on the second floor (courtesy of Timberlane). 

 

White Colonial style house plan #109-1184 with dark raised-panel shutters

This 3-bedroom, 3-bath Colonial style home with its matching columns is a lovely sight with the landscaped yard and the raised panel window shutters (House Plan #109-1184).

 

  • Mediterranean/Spanish – A popular style in Arizona, California and the Southwest, the style is recognizable by its terra cotta roof tiles, stucco facades, arched doors and windows, and exposed beams. The best window shutter styles for Mediterranean/Spanish homes are the board batten and louvers. 

Large pale-green louver shutters on Mediterranean style home

Louvered shutters that allow breezes from the ocean to filter into the house work well in Mediteranean/Spanish style homes (courtesy of Timberlane).

 

  • Ranch – With its long, rectangular shape, shallow-pitched hip roof, doors that open to a patio and backyard, the Ranch style remains one of the most sought-after plans across both coasts. Today’s Ranch home comes with an open floor plan, master bedroom suites, modern kitchen and outdoor spaces for entertaining.

Much like the Cape Cod style, you can outfit a Ranch home with practically all the window shutter styles. Panel shutters give the home an elegant feel while louvers bring a country ambiance to the home.

Large Ranch style house plan #106-1274 with board-and-batten window shutters

Board-and-batten shutters that match the shape of the windows highlight the architectural elements of this stunning 3-bedroom, 3.5 bath Ranch style home (House Plan #106-1274).   

 

A Short History of Shutters

Prior to curtains, blinds, and glass windows, shutters were the best means of security against potential intruders as well as protection from severe weather, hurricanes, heavy snow, and tornadoes. Without shutters, wind, rain, and the sometimes-blinding light of the sun could easily penetrate the windows and affect the home’s interior.

In the in the late-eighteenth and early-to-mid-ninteenth centuries window glass came into prominence in America and changed the way shutters were used. No longer needed for everyday proection of the house from the elements, shutters now shielded the fragile and expensive glass. And as window quality improved, protection from the sun, wind, and rain became less important (except in extreme circumstances) – so shutters became mostly decorative touches. 

Western front of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello with green shutters

Close up of Monticello's green shutters against brick background

Top: President Thomas Jefferson’s stately Monticello’s West Front – with its green window shutters and other exterior features – is reflected in the fish pond (courtesy of Monticello.org). Bottom: Here’s a close-up view of the wooden louver shutters from Monticello, circa 1772 (courtesy of OldHouseGuy). 

 

But while shutters have evolved into charming interior and exterior décor accents, their practical uses still remain.

1.  Light Control – It may be the 21st century, but we still need to regulate the amount of light that filters into the home. By adjusting the louvers on interior or exterior shutters, you can keep rooms as dark as you want them – especially on mornings when you need extra sleep. Or keep them as bright as possible to enjoy the sun’s warmth.

2.  Ventilation – In the same manner, shutters can be adjusted to let air inside the home when you open the windows. 

3.  Protection from Noise and the Weather – Shutters are a big help in reducing external noise – either from the neighbors or traffic on a busy street. In addition, they also protect the home from severe weather conditions like heavy snow, high wind, and even hurricanes. Solid-panel or board-and-batten shutters are the best type for these conditions, though louver shutters can help, too..

4.  Security and Privacy – If your home directly faces the street or the next-door neighbor, shutters ensure privacy and security from prying eyes.

5.  Durability and Longevity – Unlike blinds and curtains, shutters are built to last and never go out of style. They don’t fade or stain and are easy to clean.

6.  Curb Appeal – Finally, there’s the aesthetics factor. Not only are shutters attractive, they add character and dimension to a home’s exterior façade. With a variety of designs and colors available to the homeowner, there’s no limit to what you can do to add style and personality to your architectural gem.  

 

With a little innovation and creativity, you can brighten up your home with intriguing and unique decorative window shutters. Don’t be surprised if they become hot conversational topics within your circle of friends!  

 

Footnote: The top photograph in lead image of this article is of a charming 3,166-square-foot Victorian style home with Craftsman touches. The 2-story home includes 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths For more details, click here  (House Plan #198-1021)

 

Additional Sources:

Home Stratosphere 

DIY Network 

Zillow

 

 

May 10, 2018

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