THE ORIGINS OF PLANTATION SHUTTERS
What are Plantation Shutters
Plantation or Window Shutters are window coverings that can also be placed on a door or an interior area to separate spaces in a room. They have stiles and rails contained in a frame and usually have louvres that can be opened or closed to the desired effect. Solid panel shutters will not have louvres and offer the best option of blackout.
The First Shutters
Shutters made of marble existed in ancient Greek homes. Their main purpose was to protect the home from weather hazards and regulate the temperature to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Their purpose also included privacy, security and protection from direct sunlight. Shutters started spreading across the Mediterranean and became increasingly popular in Southern Europe. Wood soon replaced marble and moveable louvres became the next step to let variable amounts of light and ventilation into the room.
The Evolution of Shutters in Europe
During Medieval times, one of the main purposes of shutters was also security and protection. Shutters were equipped with a bar across the panels to stop intruders. Window glass covering was introduced during the Tudor area, but glass was so expensive that most houses could only afford to cover the upper half of the window, leaving shutters to cover the lower half. (This was the infancy of cafe style shutters). The shutter could be opened by folding the panel against the interior wall, to allow ventilation and light. Shutters were often individually decorated to become a feature.
In the 1700s, two-panel glass windows started to be used and with this, shutters began to cover the full height of the opening. The popularity of shutters developed to rely not only on their practical function but also for their visual benefits. The industrial revolution allowed the introduction of more sophisticated features to shutters.
There is a theory suggesting that the moveable function of louvres was first used by King Louis XIV of France in the 17th Century to admire women without being seen. Inspired by Eastern designs, he had louvred shutters installed around the gardens of the Court to allow him to watch the women promenading and bathing without being seen and without distracting his guards. The term 'louvre' would originate from the Louvre Palace, which was the traditional French Royal residence until Louis XIV moved it to Versailles in 1682.
Spanish, French and British colonial settlers imported shutters to the New World in the 18th Century and they soon became widespread amongst the Southern States of America (they are often called Colonial Shutters). White painted shutters were part of the elegant design of large homes dominating cotton and sugar plantations, and inspired the name 'plantation shutters'. Shutters developed more and more as their insulation and weather protection benefits became known and they got branded 'hurricane shutters', 'storm shutters', 'New England Shutters' (as New England started using them to insulate the houses from the outside cold weather), 'Florida Shutters, etc.
Shutters have remained the most resourceful, adaptable and practical window covering throughout history. Widely used in America and Europe, our modern looking shutters are a result of centuries of evolution. They owe their popularity to the versatility they offer with light and temperature control, their ventilation, security and privacy properties, but also the elegant look and stylish design they give your home.