Use exterior shutters to add dimension, color, and architectural interest to your home and to frame your windows with added style.

Whether crafted of budget-friendly vinyl or high-end cedar, exterior shutters provide a lot of bang for your design buck. The colorful additions energize a home's exterior, underscore its period style, and amplify its curb appeal. Shutters are crafted of vinyl, paintable resin-based composites, stainable or paintable cedar, cypress, and pine, and powder-coated aluminum, with standard and custom-built styles available at varying price points. Standard shutters range in height from 12 inches to 81 inches and in width from 12 inches to 15 inches; custom-built shutters will offer you a wider array of sizes, shapes, and cutout details. When selecting shutters, consider your budget and the following design strategies.

Choosing a Shutter Style

home exteriors

Choose a shutter silhouette in sync with your home's architectural style and your geographic region. Take a drive around your neighborhood (or surf the internet) to see what types of shutters are displayed on homes similar to yours. In general, raised- or flat-panel shutters work well on European, Colonial, and Federal exteriors; board-and-batten shutters complement cabins, farmhouses, Tudors, cottages, and Mission-style homes; Bermuda and Bahamas shutters bring a taste of the tropics to coastal homes; and louver and combination (sporting boast louvers and panels) shutters suit most home styles. Choose shutters that reference your windows' geometry; frame rounded windows with arched shutters and highlight rectangular or square windows with straight-lined shutters.

Shutter Colors


Shutters should be readily seen, so choose shutters that stand out against your home's exterior color; think black shutters on a white Colonial-style abode or cream shutters on a cedar-shingled cottage. If you like the unconventional, opt for vividly hued shutters cued by flowers in your landscape to give the home's facade a cheerful lift. Desire a more understated look? Use shutters in the same color family as your home's exterior but in darker or lighter tones. Also, remember that the shutters' color should tie into at least one other color or element seen on your home. The shutter color could play off purplish tones in a chimney's brickwork or repeat a color that appears on a front door, roof, or porch floor.

Mind the Details

Window planter

Make sure the shutters you choose correctly fit your windows; shutters should match the length of a window's trim and be approximately 25-33 percent of the window's width. When measuring for shutter widths, consider spaces between windows. Create a cohesive facade by installing shutters of the same width on every window. Magnify shutters' impact by detailing them with style-apt or period-perfect hardware, including strap hinges, cast-iron shutter dogs meant to hold (or appear to hold) shutters open, and noteworthy fasteners and pulls. Buy unfinished paneled wood shutters and paint them a fun color, then embellish the panels with stenciled motifs. Or, paint each shutter's panels in complementary colors for a kaleidoscopic effect. Pay tribute to your locale and your hobbies by picking shutters boasting custom cutout patterns, such as pine or palm trees, sailing ships, seahorses, that will give your home a personal and personable presence.

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