A perfect touch to a classic home, shutters can add historic beauty and grace to your windows. But did you know that the use of shutters in the home goes back over 500 years, to the Tudor Era of Elizabethan England? In this post, we look at the facts – and fiction – around the history of shutters.
If we were to travel back in time to Elizabethan England, the shutters we’d see would be very different from the ones we’re familiar with today. Often made of solid wooden boards rather than the slatted models that are common now, the historic shutters covered only the bottom of the window and closed with an iron bar. Only the upper crust of society could afford to have glass in their windows.
It wasn’t until the 1700’s that glass became a mainstay in windows, with shutters placed over them in order to allow light in and keep eyes out as needed. During this period, shutters were often placed inside the window, rather than on the exterior, to allow those living inside the house to open or shut them as needed. While there’s no truth to it, a rumor persists from this period that slatted shutters were designed by the French king, Louis XIV, in order to allow him to peep out and spy on bathing ladies of the court!
Most Americans are familiar with plantation shutters. These slatted shutters on the outside of the house are a hallmark of Southern colonial home design. While today they are often primarily decorative, in the 19th century they provided a vital role in steamy Southern climates, letting air flow through the home while keeping mosquitoes and other flying pests out.
Another design legend that persists is that of the bay window – a tax on doors in the home led designers to get around this law by designing windows large enough to open and walk through. Plantation shutters functioned as makeshift doors – clever, crafty, and stylish.
Thankfully, today you won’t need to deal with any legal loopholes to have the style you want in your home. If you’re interested in blinds, shades or shutters, we invite you to visit the Strickland’s Blinds, Shades & Shutters showroom in Wilmington, NC. We’re happy to continue the history lesson.