Before double-pane windows, bug screens, and air conditioners, people used shutters to block out the sun, help keep out cold and wet weather, and prevent insects from getting inside while keeping their windows open on warm nights. Depending on where you live, you might not need the functionality of working exterior shutters, but many homeowners love the timeless look and appeal of shutters. Not only can they help keep out the sun and weather, but they can also add depth, visual interest, and color to your home. Whether you want functional or decorative shutters, there’s a bevy of options, styles, colors, and materials to choose from.

Make the Color Count

One of the first things to consider is the color of your shutters. When choosing a color, remember that contrast counts. Light-colored shutters will pop against a dark-colored exterior wall, and the same holds true for dark-painted shutters against a light-colored wall. For shutters made of wood, a popular choice is to go au natural and forgo stain or paint. If you’re looking to add rustic accents to your home, then a natural wood shutter is the way to go.

Stay in Shape

When thinking about shutter shape, you want to complement the dimensions of the window. Even if the shutters are decorative, the shutter and window should look like they would “work” together. Basically, this means you shouldn’t get narrow shutters for a wide window or shutters that don’t fit the shape of the window. If your windows are arched, you will be relieved to know that arched shutters are available. Many companies can also make custom-sized exterior shutters for homeowners with unique window shapes.

What’s Your House Style?

Shutters come in a dizzying array of styles. The most popular is the louvered style, which is recognizable by its slatted appearance. If you’re looking for functional shutters, louvers can help diffuse light and greatly reduce the harsh glare of the sun. The look of the louvered shutter is timeless and is one of the most popular decorative shutter styles available. Other popular shutter styles include the recessed-panel shutter, which is also aesthetically popular. It’s best for completely blocking out the sun. Another style is the vertical hardwood plank shutter, which many homeowners find appealing because of its rough-hewn and homemade character. But if you don’t want to block out the sun completely, try a half-glass and half-louvered shutter. The glass is frosted to soften the sun’s rays, allowing you to fill your rooms with pleasant light and warmth.

Material Matters

Shutters made of wood are usually made from hardwoods, such as cedar and teak, as these types of wood are excellent in dealing with changes in weather. Shutters are increasingly available in man-made materials such as vinyl, and they can also withstand damage brought on by changes in temperature and moisture.

For many homeowners, a window without shutters looks bare and, well, not quite finished. American home design has long integrated the shutter, whether decorative or functional, into its aesthetic makeup, and finding out what kind of shutter options are available will help you make the best and most informed decision about what kind of shutters is right for you.

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Sources: New York Times; San Francisco Chronicle; Technical University of Lodz Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture; This Old House.

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