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 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.
Stop and take a look at this delightful white Colonial with its landscaped front yard and window shutters. The dark shade of the shutters is a perfect complement to the white walls of the home and the dark shingles on the roof (Plan #196-1023).
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?”
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?
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 (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.
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 (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 homes overall look. Working louver shutters (not just decorative) can open and close or remain at a fixed angle.
Functional and working louver shutters – of the traditional variety – give this home protection from the elements as well as a colorful decorative trim (Photo by mirna rivalta on Unsplash).
- 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.
Arched windows with brick detailing on the top are framed by classic but charming wooden board-and-batten shutters. See the garages detail; the shutters complete the delightful look of this 3-bedroom, 2-bath European home done in the Fresh Country style (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.
Yellow Bermuda or Bahama shutters frame the windows of this tropical home and allow breezes in when open (Photo by Devon Owens on Unsplash).
- 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.
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 (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.
Louvered plantation shutters control the sunlight at this window seat. The wide slats allow (or keep out) abundant light and breezes into the home. For privacy, the slats are closed at night (Photo: Tim Bakke).
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 various 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 windows width (again excluding trim). Also, think about spaces between windows when measuring for shutter widths.
These louvered shutters are a perfect fit for the casement windows – matching the height of the window and the window’s width (Photo by Miti on Unsplash).
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, other styles can complement Arts & Crafts and Craftsman homes. For example, board-and-batten, louver, and even Bahama shutters work with these designs.
Board-and-batten shutters that match the siding and columns are an interesting element of this 2-story, 4-bedroom Craftsman style home (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.
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 (Plan #142-1096).
- Colonial (Federal, Georgian) – One of the most timeless styles, the Colonial home, is 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.
This classic Colonial design of this 6-bedroom, 6-bath, 2-half-bath luxury home includes shutters on the lower and second-floor levels (Plan #120-2531).
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 (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.
Louvered shutters allow breezes from the ocean to filter into the housework well in Mediterranean/Spanish style homes (Plan #175-1042).
- 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.
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 (Plan #106-1274).
A Short History of Shutters
Before curtains, blinds, and glass windows, shutters were the best means of security against potential intruders and 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.
The in the late-eighteenth and early-to-mid-nineteenth centuries, window glass came into prominence in America and changed the way shutters were used. No longer needed for everyday protection 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.
President Thomas Jefferson’s stately Monticello’s West Front – with its green wooden louver window shutters, circa 1772, and other exterior features (Source: National Archives).
But while shutters have evolved into the charming interior and exterior décor accents, their practical uses 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 in the 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 help reduce external noise – either from the neighbors or traffic on a busy street. 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 types 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, but they also 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 the 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)