Every week on Instagram I share atrocious pictures of poorly executed shutters in a hashtag I call #ShudderSunday. The extent of shutter misinformation among the American public is frightening. No this isn’t going to destroy our society or keep my kids from thriving. It’s just a little something I enjoy making fun in the hopes of educating people more about architecture.
In the past, shutters used to be functional architectural elements. They covered windows during storms or inclement weather and people would open and close them as they saw fit. Maybe they wanted a little more shade in the bedroom, maybe a hurricane or a blizzard was approaching. They would batten down the hatches, close the shutters, and hunker down waiting for clearer skies. This is no long the case with the vast majority of shutters in America.
What is a Shutter Fail?
So, what defines a shutter fail? It’s really not too difficult to define and for most people, once you see it you can’t unsee it. I have had hundreds of people tell me that once they started following my Shudder Sunday posts on Instagram they see shutter fails everywhere.
It’s all about shutters being improperly sized for the window that are installed on. There are only two options when it comes to sizing shutters.
- Option 1: Install two shutters, one on either side of the window that is half the width of the window and the full height of the window.
- Option 2: Install one full size shutter that is the same width and height of the window on one side.
That’s it. If you have a 8 foot wide garage door and you put a 12” wide shutter on either side you did it wrong. That means that, when closed those shutters will only cover 24” of the windows and the rest of the door is exposed. Fail.
Shutters were designed to cover the opening in its entirety, never partially.
Curved shutters on rectangular windows, or rectangular shutters on curved windows. I’ve seen octagonal windows flanked by a couple rectangular shutters creating a StarWars TIE Fighter effect. The shapes are all over the place and they are disturbing.
Consider the shape of your windows and install shutters with the same shape AND in the correct orientation. The biggest offenders here are curved windows. Often people will install curved shutters, but they forget that the shutters have to be situated so that when closed they will match the curve on the window. Often they are installed with the curve going to wrong way.
Another big one is the placement of the shutters. Shutters should be placed so that they can swing closed on hinges to cover the window opening. If you install a shutter right on top of a window or a couple feet to the side it won’t cover the window and that makes it look fake.
This is so common it’s crazy. Even if you don’t want operable shutters then inoperable shutters sized properly and installed in the right location can actually look nice. As nice as real operable shutters? No, but at least they won’t make it onto my shutter shaming Shudder Sunday posts.
Your House May Not Need Shutters
This may be hard to hear for some folks who really want shutters on their house, but I’m going to say it anyway because the truth matters.
Not every house should have shutters.
I’m sorry if that offends you, but it’s true. There are specific features to every architectural style and many of them don’t play well with shutters. Here are just a few styles that lends themselves to shutters and some architectural styles that definitely were never intended to have shutters.
Good For Shudders
Bad For Shudders
- Minimal Traditional
- Mid-Century Modern
- Tudor Revival
- Vernacular (mostly)
These are just guidelines and I’m not saying it’s impossible to fit shutters on these houses or that the other styles have to have shutters. Some styles just lend themselves to shutters and some don’t. The point is don’t force it.
I really hope this has helped you understand where I’m coming from on this and try to help you better understand the shutter issues going on out there. If you want to learn more about shutters check out my post All About Wood Shutters or if you’d like to to have my company build you real shutters, I mean solid wood the Real McCoy shutters then visit us at TheRealShutter.com.
If you have some really atrocious shutter fails you want to send me for Shudder Sunday by all means please send them my way on Instagram. I’d love to see what you find in your area.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.