open and shut
With clever rods to hold them in place, top

I never knew that shutters actually served a purpose. In the U.S., they seemed to be mere decoration on a certain kind of colonial-style home. I had never seen them actually DO something.

On moving here, I developed a close relationship with our shutters. In winter, they work wonders at warming the house when the north wind howls. The inch-thick wood not only insulates on its own, but it also seals the air between the shutters and the windows. And where the windows maybe aren’t as tight, it keeps out the wind. So I reach out to shut six pairs of shutters every night, and reopen them every morning. It’s no fun when the rain is pelting down, but I only have to stick out my head for a second per window.

In the summer, the shutters are even more important. I close them at an angle (see the photos above) on the east, so the morning sun doesn’t heat the house. The windows on the west are open to let in the cool morning air. Once the temperature rises, I shut all the windows and keep the cool air in. When the sun has passed to the west side of the house, I reopen the shutters on the east, and crack shut those on the west. The hardware is cleverly designed (see below) so that the lock holds the shutters firmly with a two- or three-inch gap, letting a shaft of light come in but not enough to create a greenhouse effect on the glass.

The house is a good 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the outside temp in the summer, thanks to the shutter dance. It’s kind of a hassle, opening and closing morning, noon and night, but it doesn’t cost a penny and doesn’t pollute. Most people just leave them all shut all day while they’re at work.

Some people have electric shutters, above, which aren’t as pretty nor as insulating. But they do help, are good for places like high-floor apartments where you don’t want to lean out to grab a shutter in the wind, and you can adjust the amount of light coming in.

shutter ladySome old-fashioned wood shutters have old-fashioned accoutrements, such as detailed little female busts, wearing hats, who flip up to hold shutters in place. I’d love to know the story behind them!


27 thoughts on “An open and shut case

  1. I was delighted to find our new shutters ( hadn’t discussed the design with our builder as too many other design decisions jostling for pole position) were v traditional with exactly the same black metal fittings as on the blue ones above.
    One of those occasions when we left the guy to it and he came through triumphantly.
    We also have some of those zigzag shutters at the front, but they do have some advantages too, if less charmante.
    I agree these volets are absolutely essential for both high summer and deep winter weather control.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We are big fans of shutters too, but it does demonstrate an old fashioned way of living, where the choice was living in the dark or living in the heat in the summer. A friend of mine reckons she can set her clock by the noise of shutters clattering open or shut every day in her street.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So funny! I have happy memories of being in the cool darkness of my grandma’s house in the Midwest. She had only a window A/C unit in the living room, and kept the curtains closed to keep the room as cool as possible.


  3. It makes so much more sense than AC! We live in Ohio without it thanks to an abundance of large trees, many gardens, and over 30 windows. We do the “shade dance” in the summer, closing the ones that get the hot afternoon sun and opening them up again after the sun is low. That wooden one of the female bust is a treasure–I will have to be on the lookout for one when we visit France in September. Loved the photos!



    1. We bought our house in France based on the 50-year-old trees that encircle the property. I didn’t care what was inside–that could be changed–but I couldn’t wait 50 years for trees. I’ve read about how trees make islands of cooler temperatures thanks to the shade they make, and there are those who push for more trees in cities, to bring down temperatures.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We are electric too, I found it difficult to manage the folding shutter when it required a speedy operation. The ones on – for want of a better word – French windows make our neighbours appear in their nightwear in the morning as I go past with the dog! Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s part of the fun for us. Currently one of the elderly widowed ladies on our street is sporting a pink bubble perm that exactly matches the hydrangeas in her window boxes.
      Brief excitement and entertainment was had by all last year when she was seen sporting a MAN’S dressing gown as she folded her shutters back!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One of the things that was difficult for my wife when moving to the US with me… was that we didn’t have shutters… she was especially surprised that the houses she saw with shutters had ones that didn’t close… they were just decoration


    1. Yes, I know of a French guy married to an American woman and he can’t cope with the shutterless American bedrooms. He finds he can’t make the bedroom properly dark and he has trouble sleeping.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. In addition to the ventilation benefits, the shutter dance (love that term) is a connection to the day’s passage and the natural cycle, more than just looking at a watch. And it slows you down for a moment or two, not a bad thing in a hyper world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post, really good practical points as well as the aesthetic ones. I love shutters and all the accompanying details. We have a mix of wood and metal ones on our house, but still very old and traditional

    Liked by 1 person

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