Shutters or No Shutters?

Take a moment and look at your home.  Go ahead, really size it up.  Does your house have shutters?  Have you spent more than three minutes thinking about your shutters, or lack thereof?  If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no.  

What are shutters, and Why Do We Have Them?

According to All About Shutters, shutters are believed to have originated in ancient Greece to control light and ventilation both inside and outside of dwellings and buildings.  Today, shutters are used extensively all over the world, for functional and aesthetic purposes.  Do all houses need shutters?  Absolutely not, and many, many houses would look much better without shutters, rather than with “today’s” shutters.  What do we mean by that?  For starters, many shutters today serve no purpose, other than to add an accent color, and to fill in space around windows.  

Is it Wrong to Install Shutters if They Aren’t Needed for Practical Purposes?  

Well, no, of course not.  In our opinion, there is nothing wrong with having shutters that are strictly decorative, provided that they look functional and authentic.  Real operational shutters are installed on, rather than next to, the window frame.  Our favorite resource for getting shutters “right” is “The Old House Guy” blog.  This gentleman has a must-read six part section all about shutters on his blog, and how 99% of all shutters are poorly done, resulting in “very bad” curb appeal.  We couldn’t agree more.  Definitely check him out!

Does My House Need Shutters?

Should I get shutters for my house?  How do I decide?  We like Maria Killam’s advice, especially for DIY’ers and novices:  “A good rule of thumb if you are considering adding (or trying to decide whether to keep) shutters: if your windows are wider than they are tall, they won’t look good with shutters.”  If you’re asking why this matters, the answer makes perfect sense:  if the shutters could close, they should completely cover the window.  Ah!  That does make sense, doesn’t it?  Most people never consider or realize this.  It’s sort of like the phenomenon “once-you- see-it-you-can’t-unsee-it”.  You’ll be driving through town and won’t be able to focus on anything except for all the bad shutters!  Not gonna lie, that was me.  Several years back, we had a lovely brick house that we lived in for 15 years, never realizing we made the shutter faux-paux.  Once I realized it though, it drove me nuts.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss, at least for the little things!

What House Style Does Not Traditionally Have Shutters?

Certain style homes, such as those with Arts and Crafts or bungalow-style architecture, do not always have shutters.  Farmhouses may or may not have shutters.

What Are the Different Types of Shutters?

Board and Batten

Board and batten shutters are a country-style shutter, put together with vertical boards that have no gaps between the boards.   A horizontal board runs across the type and bottom.

board and batten shutters
@sunbeltshutters Board and Batten Shutters

Louvered

Louvered shutters are slatted shutters that may be operable, and are especially popular in warmer climates.  Louvered shutters are traditionally used in warmer climates to control ventilation.

@lasshuttersandwindows Louvered Shutters

Solid panel

Panel shutters can be raised, flat, or recessed, and are historically among the most popular.

@timberlane_inc

Solid panel with cut-outs

Solid panels are panel shutters with decorative cut-outs, and are most popular on cottage or colonial-style homes.

@timberlane_inc

Bermuda or Bahama Shutters

Bermuda or Bahama shutters are mainly used on homes to protect windows from hurricane damage.  When used, they may also provide ventilation.

@southern_cottage

French Country

French country-style shutters may be arched to compliment arched window styles.

@southernshutterhome

Can you Mix Shutter Styles?

Sometimes homes have a combination of shutter styles, or shutters on one floor only.  An example includes panel-style on the first floor, with louvers on the second floor.

@timberlane_inc

Should All Windows Have Shutters?

Not necessarily.  Double or triple windows should not have shutters.  Remember, whether shutters are operational or decorative, the shutter should be big enough to cover the window if the shutters were closed.  If the window arrangement looks too crowded and there is little to no “resting” space between shutters when they are open, you should probably avoid shutters.  If you have different sized windows in close proximity, you should consider those aesthetics as well.

Should I Remove My Shutters?

If you have shutters and are thinking about removing them, consider what is underneath.  Brittany, who has the typical plastic shutters that are commonly seen on most tract homes today, was considering removing them.  I advised her to see what the siding underneath looked like first, and sure enough, it was darker than the rest of the siding.  The sun had faded most of the exterior, which often happens with vinyl siding.  In Brittany’s case, removing the shutters would have looked bad.  Really bad.  I advised her to keep them, and just freshen up the paint.  She needed to do that anyway, because the sun had also faded the shutters.

Brittany's House
Brittany’s House with Solid Panel Shutters

Considering Shutters?

We recommend that you do your homework before deciding whether to add, replace, or remove your shutters.  Consider your home’s aesthetic, including colors, window sizes and placement.  Sometimes shutters enhance the functionality and the decor of homes, but may also detract from an otherwise lovely aesthetic.

Do you have shutters on your home and want to remove them or are you thinking of adding them and not sure if you should? Contact us to set up your design consultation!

Until next time…

From the HartLand with Love,

Monica, Cheyenne and Brittany

12 thoughts on “Shutters or No Shutters?

  1. We bought a raised ranch iand as we are removing the landscaping we realized the previous owners installed shutters on the lower level that were too small for the windows. We removed the lower level shutters and with a quick pressure washing, the house will clean up. Now I’m torn weather I should remove them all or leave the uppers only? Should I replace all the shutters? I’m obsessed with this now.

  2. good morning, so I am thinking about doing some upgrading to my house. I have a limited budget. I have a by level with white siding and green trim and green shutters. I was thinking of changing to a black trim. I was going to put in a bay window.Changing my gutters to black also. I was wondering do I need to keep my shutters? I was going to replace the windows in the front of my house and do black trim around them instead of putting shutters. It’s not a very large by level it is just medium size. What do you think

  3. I won’t get shutters for my double or triple windows. I was going to get shutters on all of my windows. But I want my house to be in style so I will get them for my single windows.

  4. We are remodeling a 1984 built home that has shutters ,but also had bars on the windows. The bars were removed due to insurance company while buying. We can’t decide if we should remove the shutters or not. Thank you

  5. I have a 1960’s storybook ranch house. The windows were replaced but have no trim or shutters. I am trying to decide what trim to add and if I should add shutters (on which windows if any) because most storybook ranch houses have shutters.

  6. Thank you for this post! I am currently stumped on picking a color palette to paint my half cape cod and am wondering if adding shutters would increase the curb appeal. I’m still not sure, but appreciate the discussion!

  7. We own a brick ranch style home that also has a front porch. All front windows have shutters and some need repair. Wondering if there should be shutters under the porch or if they should be removed in the fix-up. These windows are twice as wide compared to other windows on the front yet the shutters are the same size. Thanks!

    1. Hello Shelly!

      We would love to take a look at your windows and help you make this decision. Please submit a form on the contact us page so we can connect via email.

  8. Hello… I’m replacing my shutters and want the new ones to look (or even be) functional. The old ones are too narrow for the windows (strictly decorative) also there is a front window that is double width, and it also has the undersized shutters on it, same widths as the ones for a single window. I want to permanently remove the double window shutters but would like to put some kind of trim around the window opening (compatible with the rest of the house appearance..traditional) Not looking for anything specific yet. Just want to see some pics of houses with functional shutters that also have windows that shouldn’t (and don’t) have shutters (dormers, picture windows, etc) to see how t it was handled. I’d love to make the double window a bay window but there is no room for it to go “outward”. can you point and push me to websites showing that have houses with a shutter/no shutter mix? Thanks

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