Decorative Shutters

by Giorgina Devereaux





Decorative shutters are a beautiful, timeless, and functional design element that can be incorporated into the interior of a home.  They are chosen by many homeowners as an attractive alternative to curtains, drapes, cellular shades, and blinds

 

Shutters are available in a variety of materials, styles, sizes, colors, and stains sure to suit your needs. 

This type of window treatment provides an elegant way of controlling light and visibility from the outside by simply adjusting the louvers or tilted slats to your liking.   

You can choose from Plantation or Traditional style shutters (also known as Colonial). 

Which shutter style you opt for is a matter of personal preference based on aesthetics and distinct functional characteristics.  The most noticeable difference between Plantation shutters and Traditional shutters is the architecture.   

With Plantation shutters, the look is more pronounced and robust, with the shutters being 1 1/8 inches thick and the louver size typically ranging from 1 ⅞ inches to 5 ½ inches, along with a panel width anywhere from 18 to 30 inches.  Since Plantation shutters have much wider louvers, when open, it provides flexible light control and allows a largely unobstructed view from both the inside and outside. 

decorative-shutters-wood-shuttersOn the other hand, Traditional style shutters have narrower and more closely spaced louvers that still allow light through, but provide less of a view of the outside.  

This can be an advantage when light with additional privacy is desired, but may be a disadvantage if there is a fabulous view of the outdoors. 

Traditional decorative shutters are ¾ inches thick and the louver sizes range from 1 ¼ inches to 4 ½ inches, with a panel width anywhere from 8 to 12 inches. 

Shutters may be used throughout the entire home or as an accent for a specific window.  Before settling on a style and finish, care should be taken to ensure that it will work well in the space. 

By considering the color scheme and design elements of the surroundings, your shutters will add charm and enhance the overall look of the room. 

Characteristics of Decorative Shutters

Decorative shutters are available in the following styles:

  • Plantation

  • Traditional

decorative-shutters-plantation-shutters-vinylPlantation Shutters

Plantation shutters are more contemporary in design than Traditional shutters. 

The versatility of Plantation shutters makes them highly desirable since they can be used in a variety of environments, such as, dining rooms, living rooms, family rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms, and are the perfect complement to large rooms with open windows. 

Since the louvers are larger, this allows more visibility through the louvers while giving you the opportunity to keep the panels closed. 

These decorative shutters offer effective insulation, have the ability to regulate and block light, and look remarkably lovely.  Plantation shutters afford a homeowner complete privacy and an almost dark room.  The louvers can be rotated partially open to block direct sunlight while allowing sufficient light to brighten the room.  This is a fabulous way to protect furniture and carpet from fading over time.  When fully open, the louvers provide maximum light and great visibility.

Individual plantation shutter panels usually span between 8 and 30 inches. The panels are connected to make units fit the window and the number of panels used depends on the width of the window.  As a general rule of thumb, consider dividing the shutter unit the same way your window is divided.  For instance, if the window opening is divided into three equal vertical sections consider using three plantation shutters across.  

However, if your window is not divided into sections, use as few panels as allowable.

You may configure Plantation shutters as a cafe style or double tier unit.  A cafe style shutter covers only the bottom half of the window.  Double tier shutters are manufactured in two levels allowing the upper half and lower half to be opened and closed separately.

For a more traditional look, consider wood.  However, if you are interested in keeping costs down, consider faux wood.  Not only do faux wood shutters look fantastic, but they are highly resistant to moisture and damage. 

Plantation Shutters are available in the following louver sizes: 

  • 1 ⅞”
  • 2 ½”
  • 3”
  • 3 ½”
  • 4 ½”
  • 5 ½”


Traditional Decorative Shutters

 

To give your home an instant facelift, traditional shutters are an excellent option. 

Not only do these decorative shutters instantly transform a home into a warm and inviting space, but they add style and sophistication by bringing a dose from the past into the present. 

These shutters are perfect for homes that are traditional, modern, and that have a brick, stone, or stucco façade.

 

Traditional shutters are a fantastic window treatment for preventing light and heat from intruding and are generally ¾ inches thick.  Although some traditional shutters have flat louvers, most are wedge shaped with a vain or ridge in the center.  The slats are generally spaced on one inch centers. 

 

An important characteristic of Traditional wood shutters is how sturdy and durable they are.  They do not break easily and will continue to look great for years to come.  Usually constructed from wood, these shutters can be manufactured in a number of panel configurations depending on the width and height of the window opening.  

The most popular selection tends to be four panel units (two panels on either side) as well as single tier cafe shutters (units that only cover the lower portion of a window) and double tier units (units made with two panels from top to bottom to allow the top panels to open independent from the bottom panels). 

For a quaint and cozy cottage look, consider cafe style shutters.  Double tier shutters are perfect for covering both the top and bottom of the window.  This allows you to open the top shutters to permit light in while keeping the bottom panels closed for privacy.  The louvers are tensioned to stay in the desired position and do not require adjustment or maintenance.

Traditional Shutters are available in the following louver sizes:

  • 1 ¼” Louvers

  • 3 ½” Louvers

  • 4 ½” Louvers

Panel Configurations for Decorative Shutters

The following panel configurations are available for decorative shutters:

  • Bi-fold Shutters

  • Bypass Sliding Shutters

  • Cafe Style Shutters

  • Double Tier Shutters

Bi-fold Shutters

Bi-fold shutters (or accordion shutters) consist of a four-panel shutter unit with two panels opening to the left and two panels opening to the right. 

The shutter unit can be manufactured with one or two tiers. 

A panel is a single shutter comprised of two side stiles, a top and bottom rail, an optional divider rail, louvers, and a tilt bar.

Traditionally, in a four-panel bi-fold shutter unit, two shutter panels hinge together and hinge to the left and open to the left.  These panels fold together and rest against the wall on the left side.  The other two shutter panels hinge together and hinge to the right and open to the right. These panels fold together and should rest against the wall on the right side. 

Bypass Sliding Shutters

Bypass sliding shutters are the perfect solution for sliding patio doors and in areas that you don’t want interference with existing carpet or tile.  

The vane size is generally 4 ½” and the shutters are installed with tracking at the top. 

The tracking system allows you to easily slide, to the left and/or right. 

You can also have optional crown molding added. 

Cafe Style Shutters

Cafe style shutters are designed to cover the lower half of the window while leaving the upper portion open.

This style of obscuring the lower half of a window while leaving the upper half unobstructed was first popularized in cafes, where the shutter provided privacy to customers while the exposed upper half of the window supplied light. 

decorative-shutters-cafe-style-shuttersCafe style shutters are still an attractive choice for many homeowners. 

In addition to the privacy this style provides because the bottom portion of the window is covered, you may also control the amount of light via the use of movable louvers. 

Often, cafe shutters are applied to double-hung windows that have a horizontal division within the window.  

The top of the cafe shutters should be even with the top of the lower tier.  Generally, cafe style shutters are designed using a small louver or small slat.  The smaller louvers are ideal for small panel configurations.  The width of the shutter panels become the only critical dimension for properly fitting the shutters to the window. 

You may wish to add a valance to windows that have a cafe shutter to further enhance the overall look.

Double Tier Shutters

Double tier shutters are made in two levels to allow the upper half and lower half to open and close separately.

When both halves are closed, the window is fully obstructed.  

With the double tier design, you have the option of doing the following:

  • Leaving the top open cafe style

  • Leaving just the bottom open

  • Leaving the shutter entirely open

Each tier also has its own tilt bars, which allows the louvers of each section to be set at different angles, if desired.

Materials that Decorative Shutters are Constructed From

 

Decorative shutters are available in:

  • Wood

  • Faux Wood (composite wood and vinyl mix)

  • Faux Shutters (100% vinyl)

decorative-shutters-painted-wood-plantation-shuttersWood Shutters 

Wood Shutters offer beauty, architectural appeal, light control, energy efficiency, and sound insulation. 

This type of window treatment adds market value to a home and can be custom made to your specifications. 

Wood shutters are made from the highest grade of hardwood available and are crafted with fine details like furniture-quality dowel joints, bass woods perfectly kiln dried to prevent warping and cracking, and hinges that are recessed for better closure. 

They are available in wood stain finishes and you can even custom match to many colors. 

decorative-shutters-satinwood-plantation-shutters-faux-woodFaux Wood Shutters

Faux wood shutters are made from a composite wood and vinyl mix. 

These types of materials are more durable than traditional wood shutters, which allow you to confidently place shutters in high traffic areas, children's rooms, kitchens, and even bathrooms.

The great thing about faux wood shutters is that they are nearly indistinguishable from real wood and offer a great look with scratch-resistant durability. 

In addition, it is moisture resistant and is available in a wide variety of customizable looks.

Faux Shutters (100% Vinyl)

Vinyl shutters are excellent for humid conditions and are sturdy.  These shutters are light and perfect for the budget minded consumer.  They're up to 40% less expensive than custom-sized wood shutters.

Since they're not made of wood, they are highly resistant to moisture and damage. Caring for these shutters is as simple as using a damp cloth or sponge without the fear of harming the finish.

decorative-shutters-stained-wood-plantation-shuttersDifference between Painted Shutters and Stained Shutters

Painted Shutters

Painted shutters are one, solid, uniform color.  Some painted colors include white, off-white, cream, and darker earth tones. 

If you cannot see the material under the finish, then it is likely that it is a painted finish. 

Stained Shutters

With stained shutters, the natural grain shows through the finish. 

Although the stain itself can be tinted to a number of different colors, the defining feature for a stain is the ability to see the natural wood grain through the finish.  Stains vary depending on the species of natural hardwood that is used since each type of wood possesses its own unique characteristics. 

You can choose from painted or stained shutters.  However, most people prefer painted shutters because it is easier to match with the surrounding décor.  Staining is generally the preferred choice with wood shutters since it enhances the grain of the wood.

Decorative shutters are available in the following paint and stain choices:

 

Paint Choices: 

  • Antique White

  • Soft White

  • Swiss White

  • Navajo White

Stain Choices:

  • American Walnut

  • Chestnut

  • Cherry

  • White Wash

  • Honey Maple

  • Golden Oak

  • Bright Oak

  • Natural

  • Maple

  • Dark Cherry

  • Walnut

  • Rich Mahogany

  • Black

The following hinge color options are available for Decorative Shutters:

  • Brass

  • Chrome

  • White

decorative-shutters-white-shuttersAdditional Information about Decorative Shutters

Shutters are manufactured in 1, 2, or 4 panels that are hinged together.  The number of panels needed depends on the window width. 

Divider rails allow the louvers on the top half to be opened separately from those on the bottom. 

This is recommended for shutters over 96” in height. 

Indoor shutters are comprised of a top and bottom rail, side stiles, louvers, and a tilt bar.

All these components together constitute one shutter panel. These panels are connected together with the help of hinges to form shutter units. 

An essential part of a shutter is the louver, which is indispensable since it enables you to control the amount of light and can be opened and closed, as needed. 

With decorative shutters, you can do an inside or outside mount.  Most of the time, inside mounting is preferred where the shutters are attached directly to the window jamb with the help of butt hinges. An inside mount has a cleaner, neater look. 

An outside mount is used if there isn’t enough depth to mount the shutter inside the opening.  This type of mount is used on sliding glass doors and wood cased shallow windows.





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