I imagine you have noticed plantation shutters in more and more homes. You may even have wondered what the fuss is all about — or the even bigger question, should you add them to your custom home?
Today, I would like to help you explore the ins and outs of this type of window treatment to help you make the ideal choice for lasting comfort, ease, and as always, home value. I’ll be reviewing the same questions and considerations that I mention with clients when designing their home alongside their architect and builder. By the end, you’ll be prepared and confident when you start this conversation for yourself!
But first, what are plantation shutters?
What Are Plantation Shutters?
Plantation shutters are a built-in window treatments for the home, installed to sit directly inside the frame of your windows. One or more columns (called “panels”) of horizontal slats (called “louvers”) sit within the frame and can be angled up and down to draw in more or less natural light.
I especially love that you can adjust them at an angle that keeps the glare away while still letting in a fresh breeze from the open window. Or, you can physically open the shutters, like a swinging door, to bring the entire outdoors in.
Funnily enough, though the name plantation shutters can suggest origins from the deep south, it’s believed that the first-ever plantation shutters originated in ancient Greece and were largely made of marble! They were used to create privacy and shield interiors from rain, dust and debris.
Although no longer made using marble — at least not on this side of the Atlantic — it’s incredible that plantation shutters still uphold these useful, beautiful functions in modern-day homes.
What Are the Benefits of Plantation Shutters?
Before we start with the nitty-gritty details, let’s break down all the reasons to appreciate plantation shutters…
- Offers versatility in design to fit perfectly with the home’s existing architecture
- Provides a beautiful, custom built-in feature on the interior of your home
- Delivers beautiful and inviting curb appeal from the exterior
- Offers a perfect choice for excellent light control and extra privacy
- Durable and cordless, making them a safe and functional solution for a household with children
- Energy-efficient, keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter
- Easier to clean and maintain than dust-collecting fabric window treatments
Best of all? Each of these incredible benefits will not only support your daily lifestyle with function and flow but will bolster the value of your home. After all, it’s a fixed feature that you won’t take with you if or when you ever sell. But how do you know if plantation shutters are suited for your new home in particular?
If you’re working with an architect, builder and interior designer, they can point you in the right direction. But until then, here’s an overview that will help…
Traditional vs. Modern Homes: Choosing the Right Plantation Shutters
Even though traditional and modern homes sit on opposite ends of the style spectrum, I’ve seen plantation shutters work well with both. The secret is to find a style of plantation shutter that feels equally as modern or traditional as the home. Since the plantation shutters will become part of the home’s architectural character, it’s key that they match.
Thankfully, custom-made plantation shutters do come in a vast range of design options, from a variety of louver sizes to finishes, and colors to custom detailing. So, which details are right for your custom home specifically?
Plantation Shutter Styles for Traditional Custom Homes
In traditional homes, conventional shutter configurations have double panels assembled to cover the entire window from top to bottom. The most popular louver sizes are 2 ½” - 3 ½”. These are thinner than you’ll see with more modern styles, which means that more louvers are needed to fill in the same amount of vertical space. More traditional styles will also feature a centrally located tilt rod.
As for the finish, shutters made of wood or polymer offer the option to be painted to blend into the room or, better yet, stand out and make an eye-catching statement. Either choice is worthwhile in a traditional home and can be used as a stunning effect.
Plantation Shutter Styles for Modern or Transitional Custom Homes
For transitional or modern-style homes, less is more! A single panel with wider 4 ½” louvers (you can see that there are less of them than the traditional version) and a hidden tilt rod will give the room a crisp, contemporary feel. Again, the shutters can be customized using a range of materials, paints or stains for the perfect aesthetic to match your home and your preferred style.
The Best Plantation Shutter Choices by Room
Following the trend with the adaptability of plantation shutters, they work well in any room, though the type of room in particular will determine the right material choice. Again, your architect, builder and interior designer will help guide you in finding the right choice, but here is my advice:
These can be perfect in rooms with more moisture and heat, like the bathroom or laundry area, and can be painted if choosing a lighter color. An added bonus? Polymer shutters are the most energy-efficient, with 30% more insulation than a wooden material.
Wood shutters bring versatility to the window with their unlimited painting options. If you want to paint your shutters a darker color, the wood surface is ideal for paint adhesion. Or, they can be stained to match other wood elements in the home. You also have the option to create additional decorative elements, like a contoured tilt bar and beveled louvers, which can further heighten the style of the shutter and your home overall.
Hybrid shutters are a slimmer design, suitable for smaller windows with less depth between the window and the wall. They have the strength of wood and the energy efficiency of polymer. Plus, they can be painted, unlocking a world of possibilities.
The Verdict: To Shutter or Not to Shutter?
As a designer, I always encourage plantation shutters as an option for clients building new homes. They are beautiful, convenient and increase home value, making them a real win all around. However, the one downside is that some light will show through plantation shutters, even when closed. If you are designing a room that you want to remain dark, like a home theater or video game room, consider adding drapery or blackout curtains, like I did in my own home, pictured above!
Compare Shutter Styles with Our Visualizer Tool
A great way to visualize shutters in your home is to try HomeView by Louver Shop. You can choose from a collection of sample photos or upload one of your own to add shutters onto window and door openings. Explore customization options like color, louver size and other details to see what new plantation shutters can add to your home.
If you are thinking about adding plantation shutters to your room, plan ahead! Shutters take time to assemble and finish since they are made specifically for your windows. Talk to an expert on your new build team or reach out to a specialty supplier (like Louver Shop of Richmond) to get all your questions answered.
Here’s to your happiest home!