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What's Up Magazine

Shutter Tips

Nov 09, 2010 06:19PM ● By Anonymous

Since nineteenth-century homes were built in a myriad of styles, with windows in many different shapes besides the traditional rectangle and square, there are shutters to be found in the shape of elongated half-circles, ovals, and graceful, Gothic arches. These antique shutters can make interesting wall hangings.

Exterior shutters were originally intended to be of practical use, and that meant they were supposed to be able to close in order to protect the valuable glass on windows. How many shutters on the buildings we see today actually serve that purpose and function as a means of protection? Many replacement shutters cannot be closed because they weren’t properly measured and incorrect according to the original house plans.. They must, therefore, be permanently kept in an open position and have been placed on the building purely for cosmetic reasons.    Solid wood shutters were used on the ground floors of homes as a means of security, while louvered shutters were used on the upper levels to allow for ventilation. When closed, the slant of the louver is designed to keep rain from getting inside the house. However, in some cases, louvered shutters were installed incorrectly and fixed in position facing in the wrong direction.

Although plastic is the norm for today’s shutters, now used primarily for ornamentation, it is possible to buy wooden shutters that have been created in the old style to be used for authentic home restoration.

The alternative to outside shutters was to install them on the inside of a home, one reason being that the shutters on oddly shaped windows created a peculiar look when opened. It was also the practice to remove heavy draperies from windows during the summer months for ventilation. As such, interior shutters provided some privacy, as well as protection, since windows in the 19th century did not necessarily have the mesh wire screens we are accustomed to today.

If there’s an empty box recess in the interior window casing or indentations from hinges, it is likely that your home once had interior blinds. Interior blinds were either stained to match the interior woodwork or painted a color to match the outside of the home, so when closed they blended with the building from an exterior viewpoint.

The introduction of movable louvers on shutters enhanced their popularity during the 19th century, as this enabled them to be slanted at an angle that blocked the sun and rain but still let the cooling breezes in. The louver was attached to a single vertical wooden rod that controlled the angle of the tilt within the shutter’s frame. The rod would then be fastened at one end to keep the louvers shut tight. When louvers were used on interior shutters, they were referred to as pivot blinds or Venetian rolling blinds, and these shutters were often painted the same color as the walls of the rooms to blend in with their surroundings.

Many architects preferred interior shutters because they weren’t prone to be blown back and forth by the wind and also simplified the exterior façade. There were two types: sliding shutter blinds, which required hollow wall construction with pockets to contain the shutters, and folding shutter blinds that fit into boxes along a window’s interior trim.

Although green had typically been the favorite color for exterior shutters, by the late 19th century it had fallen out of favor as house colors became more varied. Shutters were instead painted colors that contrasted with or enhanced the color chosen for the main body of the house.

Shutters continue to be useful in parts of the country that are often beset by storms, particularly hurricanes. Shutters also add a finished look to traditional homes, and they should definitely be maintained on historic buildings.

Interior shutters provide an alternative to closing drapes and window shades for privacy. And yes, you can hang antique shutters on the wall or use them to create bookshelves, mirrors, headboards, and cabinets. Just use your imagination.