Shutters – architect’s pet peeve no. 8

Anyone involved with traditional residential housing for any time can not help but run headlong into the annoying shutter question. It would be my hope that no one ever install shutters that does not plan to actually use them. Believe it or not, shutters have a function other than earrings alongside windows.

too narrow and inoperable

In the United States, shutters were traditionally the simple ones that closed and opened, held open on wall-mounted metal fittings called shutter dogs.

shutter dog, with lock for locking the shutters when away
real shutters, still operable, proper widths

In replicating the look but not the function, shutters have become ridiculous ornaments, none the more so when the two shutters don’t actually equal the width of the window they are meant to cover. Never mind the lack of hinges or other hardware, these skinny shutters are ridiculous and should be banned. Even a really traditional house doesn’t necessarily need them.

Admissions, Hampden Syndey College, circa 1826

A quick trip to your local building supply depot will reveal that most of these ornamental shutters aren’t even wood, but vinyl or fiberglass, low-maintenance but poor copies. So please,

For real shutters, interior or exterior, there are plenty of manufacturers, a variety of types and functions. Kestrel makes excellent ones, as do many other companies. So either get rid of them or get real.

And as it is summer in Boulder and the sun is blazing, let’s go ahead and make screens operable so you can actually reach outside and close a shutter during the heat of the day. And better yet, let’s look to traditional Italian-type shutters that have bottom panels that awning-swing allowing ventilation while still shading.

photo (partial) by Ariel Churnin

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