Shutter Madness

As you tour around Medfield it would not be unreasonable to conclude that there must some kind of ordinance requiring shutters. I’d estimate that nine out of ten houses have them — no exaggeration — regardless of age.

The house in the photo above is probably something like 200 years old, and when it was built the shutters had a function: they could be closed to help keep out the weather. Not so anymore. Today’s shutters are tack-on decoration. But the people take full creative advantage of them — check out a sample of the color palette on exhibit in my 1960s subdivision:

This last one is in a newer development and is probably only about ten years old. Double height shutters rule! (And yes, that’s an antique saw mounted on the wall.)

As to why these useless pieces of architectural decoration are so prevalent in small New England towns, it’s simply modern tribalism. People are comfortable with the familiar. Builders believe, rightly, that their buyers expect shutters, and so shutters they deliver.

6 Responses to “Shutter Madness”

  1. Ben

    Fake shutters are a pet hate of mine when I see them on houses in the Puget Sound area. It seems like pretty much every house has them.

    I would have no problem with real shutters. But when they don’t close, and are obviously not even large enough to cover the window if they did close, they look like cheap crap to me.

    Making fake roman columns out of PVC pipe is a close second on this pet hate list.

  2. Sabina Pade

    Fake muntins are a similarly displeasing aesthetic abberation – and a pungent reminder of the discomfort many people experience at the thought of living behind large blank sheets of plate glass.

  3. Kate G.

    I wince at the certainty that some homeowners, probably in Medfield as much as anywhere, have added fake side shutters to their garage doors.

  4. Brian

    That’s it. I’m cutting all the collars off my shirts. Minimalist t-shirts for me from now on.

  5. SA

    “Builders believe, rightly, that their buyers expect shutters, and so shutters they deliver.”
    True, kind of. Buyers expect shutters nowadays, but builders are shaping the buyers’ expectations. If the stopped to think about it, they might realize that nobody _really_ wants them. And it’s not just New England.

    Builders also believe that buyers want formal dinning rooms that are separated from the kitchen, but families don’t eat like that anymore. Speculative development makes for one-size fits all houses…

  6. uncletimmy

    Dan, I believe that’s fergie’s house

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