Are shutters outdated? Interior designers weigh in

Often reserved for older homes with more traditional schemes, shutters might not be your first port of call when you’re deciding on a new window treatment. After all, with so many other options on offer – including some, like slubby linen curtains, that are dominating interior design trends at the moment – ​​these classic finishes are getting less of a look-in than they used to.

So does that mean shutters are outdated? Well, no, not necessarily. They can still be an incredibly practical way to increase privacy and regulate light and even temperature – and although some styles of shutters are definitely on their way out, many of them actually look good, too. In fact, some interior designers think they offer a certain architectural charm that you can’t find in other modern window treatments.

Are shutters outdated?

To help us settle the debate, we’ve asked interior designers for their thoughts on shutters – as well as their favorite ways to use these window treatments for a chic contemporary finish. Read on to get their tips.

White living room with minimalist fireplace, black corner sofa, brown marble coffee table and white shutters

(Image credit: Jenny Kozena)

With a few exceptions, the interior designers we spoke to all told us that there’s still a place for shutters in contemporary interiors – it just depends on the type of shutter you use. “I love shutters and wish they were available in a broader range of styles and easier to come by in the United States,” says Louisville interior designer Bethany Adams. ‘Nothing is better at controlling light and in an old house, airflow, than shutters. In the US there was a vogue for the problematically named “Plantation” shutter – a 2-3″ louvered shutter – in the nineties and early aughts so the concept may seem dated to some. But there are so many more options out there, from the more traditional 1″ louvers to raised or recessed panels.’

‘Shutters, as traditional as they may seem, still hold a charm in modern interior design,’ agrees Artem Kropovinsky, founder of New York interior design studio Arsight. ‘Contrary to the belief that they’re old-fashioned and bulky, shutters have evolved. Today, they’re available in a variety of materials and designs to complement any contemporary interior, and their practicality is unquestionable. They can enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal and even contribute to energy efficiency.’ He does warn that there are some exceptions, however: ‘They might not suit every space, particularly rooms where natural light and views are prioritized or where a softer ambiance is desired.’

Vignette in a room with two rattan armchairs, a small white side table, white walls and warm gray shutters

(Image credit: Jack Gardner. Design by Brad Ramsey Interiors)

Shutters offer a practical solution to bathroom window treatments – and even kitchen window treatments – where the fabric doesn’t work quite as well. They can also be an architectural feature in their own right. ‘We and our clients have always been keen on paneled shutters in period properties, and we’ve retained, restored or replaced many sets over the years,’ says London-based architect Brian O’Tuama. ‘They’re visually appropriate, fold neatly away when open, and provide extra security on ground-floor windows. They’re a classic architectural element, and as such will never fall out of favor (or style).’

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