Shutter Shadows Change ‘Farmhouse’ to ‘Main Street’

In 1 ALL, Color by Andy Bozeman0 Comments

Thanks to for the loan of this article.


Home Building Timeline Grid W24 (gold star)

2000, the turn of the new millennium, saw the #1 trend in new housing become The New Old Home; a brand new house that mimics a vintage home from the beginning of the previous century. The main traits of the New Old Home are : a front porch with steps up from a wide sidewalk enclosed within a small front yard surrounded by a garden-fence, tall windows, taller ceilings, and a still-taller, steep roof made of a non-rusting metal material intended to resemble the old tin roof on grandpa’s cabin. The basic intent of the NOH is to impersonate the nostalgic look of a slow-paced era which never actually existed, but sure is nice to dream about.
Intertwined with the basic traits of that primary NOH trend have been several sub-trends: vintage farmhouse, vintage craftsman prairie cottage, vintage honeymoon bungalow, vintage mountain-cabin retreat, vintage main street home, and so on. While the basics are exactly the same in all versions, some details vary. One such detail is shutters. When shutters are present in the design, any style can be switched from rustic to refined, from country mouse to mountaineer to city slicker with little more than a change of shutter style.
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left”]Though all details are obvious viewed up close, they can disappear at a distance.[/pullquote]The two dominant shutter styles are vertical planks, and horizontal louvers. Planks are more likely to appear rustic. Louvers are usually less rustic, being more formal and refined. The most important difference between planks and louvers is not material, not texture, not color, but shadows.  
While color, as a matter of preference, is important, the real work of style-shaping is done by the shadows between the colors. Shadows define shapes. Plank shutters can remain well defined with stains and paint colors from medium-dark to white. The shadow lines are very distinctive. But, as the color becomes more dark, the shadow lines become less distinctive. When the color gets to black, the shadow lines will be hidden as if not even there. If the shadows are not present, the detail needed to define the style is absent. Though all details are obvious viewed up close, they can disappear at a distance, and cause a loss of curb appeal.
[pullquote cite=”” type=”right”]The real work of style-shaping is done by the shadows between the colors.[/pullquote]Apply This to change a Country Mouse Farmhouse with light-stained wood plank shutters [illustration 1] to a style befitting Vintage Main Street when the new color choice for the shutters is black.


Illustration 1 – Traditional Plank Shutters adorn a Vintage Farmhouse.

A color change to black also often points to a style change to LOUVERED shutters, otherwise there’ll be nothing but BIG BLACK SLABS on the house.  Plank Shutters show their detail by the shadow lines of the light-colored, or wood-colored planks. If switched to black, the lines between the planks will be lost, causing the black-slab effect. [illustration 2]


Illustration 2 – Seen from the street, black plank shutters look more like black slabs.

Louvered Shutters have slat-faces angled upward, so the top faces of the slats catch the light and appear brighter even though they’re black. The underside of the slats are in shadow and appear more black, creating distinct lines. [Illustration 3]


Illustration 3 – The shadows define the shape of the louvered shutters on this Vintage Main Street Home.

Loss of style-lines equals loss of curb appeal. Anyone living in the house will pass very close to objects and decorations, like shutters. Details are obvious up close. But, when seen from a distance, like illustrations 1 through 3 where the viewer is sixty feet from the shutters, important details may completely disappear.
An important feature, like shutters, can make or break the curb appeal of any home. Failure to inspire onlookers with proper details can manifest in a dread, freakish, almost unknown medical condition – the Shutter Shudders. But, there’s a cure lurking in the shadows.

AB JPG Lilman Design black & white JPG

Leave a Comment