I never tire of looking at bizarre shutter installations (or shudders – hat tip to Seth!) which is fortunate as there is no shortage of them!  It’s been almost two years since I first posted about them –  it’s time to share some more!

That previous post noted the fact that today we call everything hanging next to a window a shutter, even though this wasn’t always the case.  Old millwork catalogs make clear the difference between shutters (which are louvered) and blinds (which are solid).  Not only have we as a culture forgotten that distinction, but we seem to have forgotten what shutters were even intended for in the first place!  Most see them as decorative accessories – something akin to optional jewelry simply for the sake of fashion.  With central air being so universal, not many people open their windows for ventilation any more, and storm windows now help to protect from the elements and unwanted intruders.  It’s no wonder that shutters have devolved into useless appendages.

The trend seems to have begun surprisingly early – at least by the 1920’s – especially surprising given that windows were still very much used in the traditional manner at that time.  Here are some some more examples of how merely ornamental shutters have become:


This design from a catalog of house plans c. 1920’s shows a pair of shutters placed correctly in terms of function, but the they are a tad too large to actually be able to serve as shutters; there is not enough room within the window opening to accommodate both of them. They are clearly just ornamental here. Image courtesy of archive.org.


In this period example, all of the windows sport shutters. The arched attic window’s shutters are more believable in terms of scale, but are hanging on the wrong sides of the window in order to actually fold over and cover the window! The wide double window next to the door does not have shutters large enough to cover the windows. And there is an awning in the way to prohibit that even if the shutters were to somehow fold over. Image courtesy of archive.org.


Yet another period example – here the shutters on the arched window are not only too small, but they are reversed from their intended positions.


These shutters, if hinged, could only cover half of each window. They are also slightly larger than what would be needed for half of the window.


A similar house makes no pretense about it; these iron “shutters” are purely ornamental – and hung on the wrong sides of the windows!


In a more contemporary example, “shutters” are created out of a contrasting color of steel (or perhaps vinyl) siding. Again, they are too large – half the number seen would theoretically serve to cover each window.


These blinds are not only too large to both fit their openings, but balustrades have been installed in front of them, preventing them from any possible utility. Also a storm door is installed in the space needed to acommodate them if they could close. A similar pair at right has been used to visually lengthen the short window they flank.  Also, their shapes mimic the arched casings rather then the squared openings.


This colonial-era house does not have enough “shutters” on the front. They are also hung beyond the window casing and are slightly taller than what would fit inside the window’s casing.


What purpose would these small shutters serve if folded over the corners of this garage door opening? Tall, skinny, shutters inexplicably flank the bay window at left… a good distance away from the glass.


I kind of like this one; it is at least more honest than the others and rather playful!

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