Updated: October 5, 2015
Shutter Reviews:House shutters are gaining in popularity again as homeowners try to add style and elegance to their homes. The exterior, or outdoor, shutters tend to be more decorative than functional and interior shutters do a good job of controlling the level of light allowed into a particular room. Shutters were originally placed over windows when glass wasn't an option or it was too expensive (if you've ever watched Little House on the Prairie they have shutters over their farmhouse windows). There are so many styles, sizes, and materials to choose from it can be a difficult task just to get started. What goes well with your homes exterior or interior design? Do you need to hire a decorator to make things work? Hopefully after reading this article you will have a better understanding of what is out there for you to choose from and which design styles fit your taste, either indoors or outdoors.
Buying Guide - Let's start with the exterior shutters, which we mentioned come in decorative or functional designs. Modern homes have glass windows that block rain and wind so most outdoor shutters you see these days are more for decoration than anything. They can definitely add curb appeal to some homes and are worth considering if the exterior of your home needs some style added to it. The decorative shutters are usually just mounted to the house next to the windows (use screws to fasten them and not nails). When sizing your exterior shutters, make sure they are roughly the same height as the window they are being placed next to so the house maintains its symmetry. Vinyl is the material of choice for many homeowners on exterior shutters since it is affordable plus lasts a long time with little care needed. Since the shutter doesn't move once mounted to your house, it will almost always only have 1 side (the one facing the street) that is finished with the shutter design. If you go with a wood, decorative shutter then often they arrive from the manufacturer as unpainted so you can paint them whatever color matches your house or trim best. Decorative shutters are pretty cheap to buy, some are less than $100/pair. Functional shutters on the outside of your house are not very common anymore since technology has made glass windows that hold up against storms and rain pretty well. You'll still find them in historic areas of cities where homes keep that authentic look from decades ago. In the South, especially in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina hurricane shutters give windows added protection when those strong winds blow with heavy rains and objects are flying all around. Most functional exterior shutters need to be custom made since the ones of the shelf of stores don't fit all window types exactly. Exterior shutters that function are often made of wood and some recent models are now being made with fiberglass. Shutter styles are many - panel, colonial, bahama, plantation, cafe style, and double tier. The panel shutters are the most common style you will find in decorative, exterior shutters. They have a solid surface with minimal design work. The colonial style shutters can be found as decorative shutters too, but the louvers are fixed. Interior shutters that are functional and have colonial styling often have mobile louvers to allow for light and visibililty adjustments. If you like colonial shutters but want wider louvers, consider the plantation shutters. You get louvers that are 2 1/2-4 1/2 inches wide on plantation shutters compared to 1 1/4" on a colonial style. If you travel to the south and see some of the authentic Plantations you will see this type of shutter. Bahama, or Bermuda, shutters are those that open upwards over a window and sit like an awning over it. They got their name since they are fairly common in tropical climates where they perform two functions - they allow sea breezes in and provide extra shade while doubling as an awning. Cafe style shutters are some of my favorites since they remind me so much of what you see in portions of Europe. They resemble colonial shutters in style, but their design is very different. A cafe shutter only covers half the window (the lower half) so the upper portion can still get light coming through. Generally only seen on windows of the bottom floor of a building or house. Some people prefer the double tier shutters which allow the most variety of light visibility. They are made so that the shutter has two distinct levels and you can control each one separately. You can leave the bottom open with the top shut, vice versa, or close or open them all up at the same time. When it comes to interior shutters you'll find colonial, plantation, cafe, and double tier in houses. Curtains and blinds work just fine, but shutters add style and elegance to a home. You want the style and color of the interior shutters to match the rest of the decor in the room they are going in. The mobile louvers will vary in width, so when you are in a showroom looking at the shutters adjust them yourself to see how much light can come in once opened. Also, you'll want a snug fit with interior shutters so that there are no gaps where unwanted light may sneak through when the louvers are completely closed. White vinyl and faux wood are the most popular materials found on interior shutters. There are ready made shutters, but most professional installers told us to get your windows measured so the shutter will have a custom fit just to your window dimensions. Ready made shutters can cost about $200 per window set. Browse the best selling exterior shutters here