Housing Design Matters – Shutter Foul

Shutter foul 1If I were shutter patrol collecting $1 fines for every house that committed “shutter foul”, I’d be well on my way toward that Caribbean vacation.

What is shutter foul? Have you ever seen a house with shutters that aren’t large enough to actually close over the window? Of course you have, they’re everywhere! Three windows joined together making nine feet of glass area featuring 12-inch shutters on either side. Stop this!

Ridding of this atrocity requires understanding the cause. Oftentimes, adding shutters is how homeowners (and occasionally professionals) choose to add a pop of color or visual interest to the look of their home. So many houses built today are covered in some varying shade of white or beige, forcing the use of shutters as a last ditch effort to incorporate color. Most of us homeowners are desperate for color—and end up sacrificing architecture in order to live in a house that isn’t just ordinary looking.

So – what’s the solution to shutter foul? Adding color to the main body of the house! Think about exterior color differently. Instead of three colors (body, trim and accent), think four: main body, secondary body, trim and accent. A house with siding can vary the siding profile and the color – even incorporate stone – giving some dimension.   Craftsman-style homes can try light brown siding (main body) and rustic red shakes (secondary body). Folk Victorian homes can showcase a warm gold siding (main body) with slate blue board and batten (secondary body).

Shutter foul 2

I’m not messing around: I’m talking about really adding color – not just more yawning shades of beige, but real, vibrant color! With color on the main body, the accent shades can be on the front door and gable vents, instead of slapping on a brightly-colored shutter that doesn’t fit the window. If you’re set on shutters, keep them exclusive to single (not married or mulled) windows. Then, select shutters that are one half the window’s size. A 3 foot window gets a pair of 18-inch shutters.

Odds are, we will never completely eradicate shutter foul from our communities, but I hope that we can at least raise awareness of the issue. Because I believe that if, as homeowners and professionals, we can recognize shutter foul for what it truly signifies—a plea to add life and vibrancy to your home—then the remedy can be simple and straightforward with color and texture!




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