Deciding whether to add plantation shutters to your home’s living spaces can feel like an overwhelming decision given all of the various points of consideration, including style, features, benefits, and of course – cost.
To help simplify the decision-making process for homeowners, builders, and interior designers, we’ve created this comprehensive Plantation Buyer’s Guide, a unique resource that is intended to answer many of the most common questions you may have when buying the perfect window shutters for your home – all in one place!
What Are Plantation Shutters?
Interior plantation shutters are a specific type of solid window treatment, typically made from wood, faux wood, or other composite materials.
They are constructed within a frame, consisting of vertical stiles, horizontal rails, and adjustable slats (called louvers), which are adjusted using the shutters’ tilt rod to allow for increased or decreased amounts of light and ventilation within a room.
With multiple styles, materials, and finish options available, interior window shutters offer a wide variety of applications for any room in the house, including kitchens, dining rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, offices, closets, and general living areas.
The History of Plantation Shutters
Window shutters are believed to have first been invented and utilized by the Greeks during the 15th century. Made of marble and other solid stone materials, their purpose was to provide light control, improved ventilation, and added protection from heavy storms that would occasionally strike Greece’s coastline.
Due to their stone construction, these shutters were luxury items that were largely reserved for the elite who could afford them. While their design was simple and sturdy, stone construction required fixed slats to be used, which limited their flexibility, functionality, and affordability.
As the use of window shutters spread throughout Europe, craftsmen began experimenting with new designs and materials, including wood, which allowed for cheaper construction, more versatile design options, and improved functionality.
Shutters became particularly popular with French royalty, so much so that rumour has it King Louis XIV mandated they be used within his private residence, which gave added momentum to the window treatment trend throughout the country. Eventually, movable slats called louvers (from the French word “louvre”, meaning “to coil up”) were invented, providing drastically improved flexibility and control.
Spanish colonization of the Americas eventually brought the use of window shutters to the modern day United States during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Owners of large mansions and plantations throughout the south found shutters to be particularly helpful in not only providing cross-ventilation during hot and humid summers, but also added protection from violent summer storms.
Plantation owners also adored the decorative and aesthetic benefits that shutters provided for their homes, and were eager to install them as an elegant symbol of status.
As you may have guessed by now, the popularity of shutters within plantation properties is what helped “plantation shutters” to earn the common name they are referenced by today!
Why Should You Invest in Custom Shutters?
As you consider whether plantation shutters are the right window treatment for your living space, there are plenty of benefits to factor into your decision!
Added Style & Aesthetics
If your goal is to make a dramatic statement within your home’s interior spaces, custom plantation shutters are a dependable go-to.
With premium quality hardwood shutters from name brands like Norman™ and Graber, you can add unrivaled beauty and elegance to your room that will not only enhance your lifestyle, but also welcome your guests with a comforting ambience when they first enter your home.
You can also achieve a seamless integration into your home’s existing architecture by paint or stain matching your shutters to your existing woodwork.
Increased Light Control
One of the most obvious functional benefits of installing window shutters in your home is your added ability to control the amount of light entering the room.
The reality is that harsh, ultraviolet rays from the sun can easily fade and damage furniture or hardwood floors (not to mention your skin), and shutters are a fantastic way to limit this damage while still allowing mood-appropriate light into your living space.
Modern window shutters feature a wide variety of adjustable louver sizes, giving you a broad spectrum of light control flexibility, ranging from near-total darkness, to wide open brightness.
Increased Property Value
Being that plantation window shutters serve as a permanent fixture within your home’s windows, they are proven to add more value to your home than other more temporary and/or detachable window treatments, such as window blinds and window shades.
If you’re adding shutters to your existing home, keep in mind that because they are custom fit to your home’s unique windows, they often appear as though they were built during your home’s initial construction, making them an added conversation point for negotiations with prospective home buyers.
For new home construction, consider asking your shutter installers to work directly with your builder and trim carpenter in determining how to best frame in your windows for an ideal fit with your shutters. And, remember that the increased property value could have a positive impact on the loan approval process!
Improved Energy Efficiency
It’s no secret that the loss of hot and cold air through your home’s windows is one of the largest contributing factors to increased energy bills, especially during frigid winters and scorching summers.
Luckily, energy efficient window treatments can help reduce the costs of heating and cooling your home by providing an added layer of insulation against your wallet-depleting windows.
When comparing window coverings for energy efficiency, it’s important to consider the “R-value” of the materials you are assessing. An R-value is essentially a measure of a material’s ability to resist heat.
An uncovered window with no treatment often has an R-value of 0.75-1.0 (depending on the panes and/or coating). Wood plantation shutters often provide an R-value between 2.0 and 4.0 (with some materials claiming as high as 6.0), meaning that you can easily double or triple the insulation protection of your windows by installing shutters!
Privacy and Security
Have you ever wondered where the phrase “peeping Tom” came from? Believe it or not, the story involves shutters!
An old legend claims that Lady Godiva once rode naked through the streets of Coventry to protest a heavy tax that her husband had levied against the town’s people. Most of the town’s residents agreed to not look at her as she galloped through the city on a white horse, but “Peeping Tom” defied the agreement and snuck a peek at her through his window shutters. Legend has it that he was immediately stricken blind, and that Lady Godiva was the last woman he ever laid eyes on.
We’ll let you decide how much you believe the legend, but one thing we can tell you for certain is that installing plantation shutters is an effective way to maintain privacy in any room of the house, and to prevent the prying eyes of your neighbors, criminals, (and “Peeping Toms!”) from visually trespassing into your space.
Using the tilt rod, you can easily adjust your louvers for any desired level of privacy, whether it be subtle closure in your living area, or complete closure in a bathroom or bedroom.
Shutter Options and Features
As with most interior design choices, choosing the perfect plantation shutter for your home will undoubtedly come down to the details!
Your first task will be to choose a primary manufacturing material. While there are a multitude of choices available on the market, most plantation shutters fall under three primary material categories, each of which offers its own unique combination of pros and cons.
Hardwood Plantation Shutters
Often considered the “classic plantation shutter”, hardwood shutters are crafted from high-quality natural hardwoods (like basswood and poplar) which deliver an unmatched combination of timeless beauty, and classic elegance.
While there are plenty of brands/manufacturers to choose from, remember that not all wood shutters are created equal, and the level of quality between finished products can vary greatly.