Shutters

June 1, 2011

Another new-to-me aspect of living in France is using shutters. In America, if there are shutters on the building at all, they are generally non-functioning. But in France, shutters are real working parts of the house and they are typically opened and closed daily.

In fact, one of my favorite mornings in Paris was spent watching the buildings on the street come alive as each window shutter was opened and folded in for the day.

At our house, opening the bedroom shutters has become a part of my morning routine. And closing them at night has become part of my evening one.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it — opening the window to get the shutters in the middle of winter is cold! But we’re four months in and I’ve come to love the shutters. Especially now that it’s staying light until 10:00pm or later. The shutters are so helpful in getting the kids’ rooms nice and dark at bedtime.

Here’s a series of photos I took while opening Oscar & Betty’s bedroom shutters this morning. I start in the darkened room and approach the window.

I twist the knob then pull the windows open into the bedroom.

Then it’s time for the shutters.

At the bottom of the shutter, I unlatch the hook.

Then I push open the right shutter until it lays flat against the building.

Then I push the left.

The metal handles you see on the right and left shutter keep the shutter latched against the wall when they are open. In the evening, to close the shutters, I pull on the metal handles to unlatch them.

And voila! The sun can now enter the room.

Here’s a shot of the house with the shutters open, ready to greet the day:

What do you think? Would you enjoy a daily shutter routine? Do you have shutters on your house?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Kirtsy
  • StumbleUpon

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather June 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

I love routines in the morning! What better way to start the day then letting the sun in. I would love working shutters!

Reply

2 Anne June 1, 2011 at 8:15 am

Somehow gentle routines like shutters or hanging laundry to dry seem charming in Europe but out of place here in the States. I keep trying to figure out why that is…

Reply

3 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 8:39 am

Such a good observation, Anne. I wonder why that is too!

Reply

4 Erin June 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

I agree. I think it has something to do with the fact that, if they were working shutters, they would somehow feel fabricated, contrived…in Europe, it seems more natural. My feeling is that it’s in direct correlation with age; a house 75 years old is a relic to behold here, but yours in France is hundreds of years old. And many more like it.

Reply

5 Amina June 1, 2011 at 8:22 am

I love shutters!! They are so pretty.
In Senegal, many houses have shutters

Reply

6 Katherine June 1, 2011 at 8:28 am

A lovely daily routine.I welcome the day each morning by opening all of the blinds and at night I close them again. When I lived in Paris we did the same thing with the shutters. Hugs and so happy I found your blog.

Reply

7 Ashlea Walter June 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

I’m so used to waking up when the sun just begins to stream in through the windows, sans shutters. I think I would just keep sleeping if it stayed dark in our bedroom!

Sounds charming though, but most of all, I love how you are embracing the new customs like laundry, ironing everything and shutters. Have you learned to clone yourself yet?

Reply

8 Maria @ Busy as a Bee in Paris June 1, 2011 at 8:30 am

ha ha ha ha! i LOVE shutters! so pretty. but we live in the same house where my hubby grew up, we bought it from his parents a few years ago and they installed eLeCtRiC shutters – heaven forbid!! it’s true it’s so easy – open and close with the push of a button, but where oh where is the charm? as soon as we can we’ll put on real wood- painted sun baked shutters that we can physically open and close! and maybe in provence green with some red geraniums on the sills! ;)

Reply

9 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

I love the image of provence green shutters and red geraniums. Sounds perfect!

Reply

10 Corrie Anne June 1, 2011 at 8:31 am

I love cheerful little routines! I think my fiance would love the whole shutter thing because he loves to get up and open the blinds first thing. But shutters? So much cooler!!

Reply

11 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 8:42 am

I love cheerful routines too! Not sure what it is, but I’ve embraced my mornings here much better than I did in New York or Colorado. School will be out in a few weeks and I wonder if I’ll be as good about the routines during summer break.

Reply

12 Denise Laborde June 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm

As the temperatures rise you may notice you’ll need to close shutters to windows in the afternoon sun in order to keep the heat out :) In the afternoon we close them “à la espagnolette” to let a little light in and the hot sun out.

Reply

13 Lauren June 1, 2011 at 8:34 am

I think I would love having real, working shutters! I love morning and evening routines and that seems like such a fun one.

Reply

14 Jenni June 1, 2011 at 8:41 am

Love it! Sort of romantic but practical at the same time.

Reply

15 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 8:43 am

That’s a wonderful way to describe it.

Reply

16 Jen R. June 1, 2011 at 8:52 am

I love the idea of shutters and these photos make my heart happy. :) I, like Katherine, have a morning and evening routine of opening/closing all the blinds in our house. It’s one of my favorite little things to do.

Reply

17 beyond June 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

love shutters! like the eyelids of a window.
they’re also very ecological. you’ll see how they keep your house cool in the summer. (curtains and blinds are not the same; as soon as the sun comes through the glass, the heat is inside. you want to keep direct sunlight from hitting the glass in the first place. no ac needed…)

Reply

18 Natalie June 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

I could do a waking up in France daily routine. If shutters come with that then I am all in.

Reply

19 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

Shall I tempt you further by saying the next part of the routine is hot cocoa and pain au chocolat?

Reply

20 Erin June 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

Gabby, this is cruel.

Reply

21 Amy Jo June 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

Cruel, indeed.

Reply

22 Natalie June 2, 2011 at 10:44 am

Yes, cruel. The best hot cocoa I ever had was in Versailles. Oh my goodness. So delicious.

23 rachael June 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

one of the many reasons why i want to live in Europe

Reply

24 Sara June 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

Your morning routine is so much nicer than mine… cleaning out the cat litter box.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Reply

25 se7en June 1, 2011 at 9:31 am

I split living my high school years between a home with shutters and a home without… Somehow the home without was always rushed and stressed… and we got to school by 8 in the morning… At the house with shutters we lingered longer, time for coffee and a chat and shutters and reading the paper… just time… and we got to school by 8 in the morning!!! Go figure!!! My mom always said the more you do the more you have time for!!!

Reply

26 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

“the more you do the more you have time for”

I don’t think I’ve heard that before, but I’m pretty sure it’s true at my house.

Reply

27 Jody Nebesnik June 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

What a great saying!

Reply

28 Swati June 2, 2011 at 12:45 am

wow…i have never heard that before but it seems so true……”the more you do, the more you have time for”…..Thank you sharing this with all of us…

Reply

29 Nikki {Perpetually Engaged} June 1, 2011 at 9:45 am

I would love them! Especially since I dislike blinds and my husband wants to put them everywhere…even in the skylights.

Reply

30 Megan June 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

I love morning routines too! Its those few quiet moments to yourself before the day really starts. I love to look out each window as I pull back curtains. I just returned from vacation at the ocean and my morning routine there did involve shutters which was a cool change of pace. It reawakened my curtain routine here – probably because I’m pretending that each window here at home would have the same view of the ocean – nope just dry desert! Watering potted plants is another one of my fav routines.

Reply

31 Raina June 1, 2011 at 9:51 am

Funny story (having nothing to do with the shutter post): I read your blog for the first time about two weeks ago and fell in love with it. I looove France and have always wanted to live there. Anyway, so I’m thinking about your blog all week, right? Then on Sunday I am reminded we have guests coming to dinner. Two young men. So we’re sitting at the table discussing church/the gospel and Mormon women and blogs. Then one of the young men asks if we are familiar with design mom. Uh, yeah! “well, she’s my aunt”. I started freaking out. It was so funny. I live in Minneapolis and fed your missionary nephew a delightful dinner. :) He was the sweetest, most polite young man. Very intelligent, as well. Please pass that on to his mother for me. What a small world! P.s. I reminded HIM you are now living in France.

Reply

32 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 10:02 am

How fun, Raina! You met my nephew, Josh Sabey. He’s outstanding! All the Sabey kids are. Josh is the one that built this table for me: http://www.designmom.com/2009/06/how-to-build-a-giant-table/

He’ll be coming home in a month or so and I’m so sad we won’t be there to welcome him back! I’ll send your compliments on to his mom.

Reply

33 Erin June 1, 2011 at 10:19 am

Raina, I wonder if he ever was in my area…I don’t remember an Elder Sabey, but it’s possible. I have a dear friend who married a Sabey–not a common name, so I’d think I’d remember. We’re also in Minneapolis.

p.s. I’d freak out, too. Design Mom is a celebrity to us–let’s be honest. :)

Reply

34 Raina June 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Erin, he just transferred from St. Cloud a few weeks ago. Are you in north or south MPLS? We’re south, in the lake nokomis ward.

Reply

35 Jennie June 1, 2011 at 9:58 am

This post made me smile. I was telling my husband a month or so ago how “all” the shutters in France are workable. He laughed at my generalization. I returned yesterday from a trip to Paris where I took 20-30 photos of house/building/ appartement shutters to have as evidence. Your post is more proof of my statement. :) Lovely photos. Lovely blog.

Reply

36 Liv June 1, 2011 at 9:59 am

I would enjoy that more than pulling the cords on my cheap apartment blinds. It feels timeless and sounds like a wonderful way to greet the morning. It reminds me of beauty and the beast, in the scene when Belle is walking through the village and the whole place comes alive.

I also

Reply

37 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

Yes! It totally feels like that scene in the Beauty and Beast where everybody is singing Bonjour! I think of that on many mornings. : )

Reply

38 Caddy June 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

All the bedrooms in our house have brown shutters that are built on the inside, you have to open or close them in order to open and close the windows. My parents decided on shutters instead of curtains for the house, since my mom found that curtains attracted too much dust. Our shutters have adjustable slats that let you regulate the flow of light. Their great for darkening or brightening a room.

Reply

39 Summer June 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

Ha, I agree with Liv – it’s definitely more charming than opening blinds.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but….I’ve never really thought about how to open/close shutters. I just thought you pulled them to, and I thought you did it from the outside [it's most one story homes where I grew up]. The more you know!

Reply

40 annabelvita June 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

I love shutters, but the newer style ones (the metal ones that fold in smaller pieces) are TOO good at blocking the light so I used to sleep with one panel open. But it is great to have that total darkness when you want it.
Did you know you can’t get insurance for a house in France without shutters on all the windows? They’re really safe because you can only open them from the inside (the newer ones anyway).

Reply

41 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm

So interesting about the insurance, Annabelvita.

Reply

42 maria June 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

wow, this is so interesting- i’ve heard that sleeping in a pitch black room is really important for hormonal health, (circadian rhythm), etc. These Europeans are smart:)!

Reply

43 TN June 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

We don’t have shutters on our apartment here in Paris…but the in-laws who live in the burbs do. They are great for keeping the sun out…they eliminate the need for curtains or than for decoration. Here we just have our curtains lined (black out fabric) since you are right…it is light out until 10 pm now!

Reply

44 chris June 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

Have you taken to setting your comforters out on the windowsill to air out? When we lived in Austria we would always open the windows wide in the mornings to air out the rooms and refresh the bedding. Yes, even in winter! (Of course, then interior doors have to remain shut otherwise the breeze slams them all. Americans typically have central air/heat and don’t have to air out their rooms, and they prefer to keep interior doors open.)

Reply

45 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I haven’t tried that, Chris. But now I’m tempted.

Reply

46 Sarah June 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

I love having functioning shutters. I’ve lived in France a couple of times, and I love the option of having the windows open, and shutters closed for a tiny little breeze to come through, but still maintain privacy as needed.

Reply

47 JourneyBeyondSurvival June 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

What I love about shutters-other than the romance and routine everyone else is talking about-is that they help so much with the heat. Both keeping it in in the winter, and keeping it out when needed in the summer. Energy efficiency extends even here in Europe because not many people have AC. Most I talked to thought of it like I think of re-circulated airplane air.

It makes sense. As we try to avoid turning on the AC for as long as possible, I’ve been closing my drapes and thinking wistfully of our long lost shutters. I hope the summer makes you treasure them even more!

Reply

48 Sarah June 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I love it. The house really seems magical. I think you should do a post on all of the different plants around the house if you haven’t already..I love the vines growing..wish I had a stone house so I could do the same! Is that lavender on either side of the door? Your blog is so inspiring to me, every single morning, thank you.

Reply

49 Claire June 1, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I am from France but I have been living in Canada for the last 16 years and I still miss “les volets” (shutters)!
It is still a mystery to me that in a country where it’s cold people don’t think about insulating their house with extra shutters on the outside. It make such a big difference! And what about protection from the sun in the summer time???
It’s amazing North America doesn’t use them… They have been used in Europe for centuries for good reasons.

Reply

50 Kristi June 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm

In Germany and Austria airing the house is an important part of each day, preferably first thing in the morning to get the freshest air. Even in the dead of winter.

Reply

51 ellen van manen-de boer June 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

gabrielle,
you are too much, now you will have to find a house with shutters in the USA or stay forever in this supercute rental maison you are in now…

Reply

52 Rebecca June 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

I think a part of what makes opening shutters more happy and cheerful than raising miniblinds or curtains is that you have to actually open the window. You may feel the breeze or sun (or rain!) on your face and hands, instead of just looking through the glass (and possibly screen). That is a different experience.

Reply

53 Jan June 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I too love the routine of opening and closing the shutters. The first half of our year here my daughter was still napping so we mostly just left them closed but now that she has traded her nap in for ‘quiet time’ we open them daily to let the light in – then make sure to close them by the time the sun swings around in the afternoon or their room turns into a sauna.
While I love the shutters I miss the screens that we have on our windows in Canada that keep the mosquitoes out so that you can enjoy cool nighttime breezes without being eaten to death in your sleep.

Reply

54 Elena June 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Así es, en España también las hay, pero en mi casa y en muchas otras están por dentro. Los muros de algunas casas son tan gruesos( 8 e incluso 10 centímetros), por la piedra utilizada al construirlas que en la parte interna va la contra ventana que así se llama aquí y aún sobra espacio, así que yo las cierro todas las noches y las abro todas las mañanas. Felicidades por tu trabajo, estoy enganchada!!!

Reply

55 Dina June 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm

It drives my MIL absolutely in sane when she visits us and I don’t open my blinds up in my house every single morning! I told her 1. we live in the south where it’s hot, humid, and the sun fades my furniture and hardwoods, and 2. I just don’t have the time to open and close 50 windows every single day!

Reply

56 Amy June 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I love shutters and was wondering if they rattle and bang in the wind. My morning routine in open the blinds coffee and porridge with coconut flakes and maple syrup.

Reply

57 Cari June 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I was just thinking how nice it would have been to have working shutters last week. We had two tornadoes come through our area (something not too common for us) and it would have been nice to close some shutters to protect our newly installed windows.

Reply

58 Zoe June 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I think I would enjoy this shutter routine very much! Thanks for sharing it.

Reply

59 Emily June 2, 2011 at 1:57 am

So beautiful! I love shutters so much, they have so much character.
By the way, tu dois ecrire un billet de blog en francais! Je suis certain que tous les francophones aimeraient lire. Moi, j’étudie le francais depuis 4 an. J’espere qu’un jour, je peux habiter a l’etranger! :)
Tu peux me corriger, je fais toujours beaucoup d’erreurs (mais je sais il n’y a pas les accents)! :P

Reply

60 Emily June 2, 2011 at 1:58 am

ans* ! :(

Reply

61 Dee June 2, 2011 at 5:28 am

I love shutters. When I was a kid, in St. Lucia, my great grandmother would close hers up every evening before doing lighting a lantern and doing her prayers. Closed shutters meant “Do Not Disturb”, for sure.

Reply

62 Tara June 2, 2011 at 5:57 am

I’m so glad you’re writing posts on all of these lovely little aspects of France! I’m terrible at recording the details, so I’ll come back to your blog to remember so many of the wonderful things that I also love about Italy. So many similarities…shutters and red geraniums in our window boxes are just two. I love the shutters for our kids; it makes their room nice and dark during naptime and at their 6:30 PM bedtime (they’re nearly two, and whenever we drive through a tunnel or pass under a very shaded area during a walk, they shout, “NIGHT NIGHT!”). And when we travel, all of the places we stay also have shutters. It’s fantastic! Because we’re on the top floor in the city center, we don’t close all of our shutters each night, but a favorite thing each morning is the sound of other people opening their shutters. A rustic creak creak, and you feel a connection knowing that others have begun their days. Oh how shutters would be wonderful back in the US too…

Reply

63 Alisa June 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

got the routine and love shutters. In our village you can only paint your shutters certain colors, the Marie tells you what you can and can’t use. Were told by a local elderly woman here that the reason for shutters was that back in the day the king would employ a local person to peer into windows of homes to see how “rich” people looked and then they would be taxed on that. So people put up shutters so that they could keep their life private in their house if they wanted to. Not sure if it’s true, but it’s a good story.

Reply

64 Jamie June 2, 2011 at 8:16 am

This is such a charming post. What an inspiration to enjoy the “everyday”!!! I LOVE your blog more than I love my iPod (and that’s sayin’ a lot) Hahaha.

Reply

65 NolaLeBlanc June 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

I live in south Louisiana and lots of homes here have workable shutters. Most people have them to secure their windows in the event of a hurricane. The ones on my house are mostly for aesthetics, but they do work. When I want a really good night’s rest, I sneak off to our guest room and close the shutters tight. It makes the room nice and dark and they are also great for muffling out the sounds of suburbia.

Reply

66 kpriss June 3, 2011 at 9:19 am

oh, yes, shutters! Lov’em! And though we have a new house, we’re considerings shutters for the windows upstairs! The way they break a facade? there’s nothing like it to pretty up a house, I think!

Anyway – La cressoniere looks like a charming place to be in! Congrats for the excellent choice you made!

Reply

67 Sammy June 3, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I love shutters, too.

Over here, its very common to close the shutters during the day when it’s too hot outside – it’s basically organic air conditioning :)

Do your shutters have these sweet guys, too?
http://bit.ly/mkpCgn http://bit.ly/kz2SVD http://bit.ly/jegwST
In Germany they are pretty common and are used to fasten the shutters to the walls when open. :)

Reply

68 Bonny June 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Love that!! Why does the U.S. not do this? haha

Reply

69 Megan Murillo June 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I was just thinking the same thing about my morning and evening routine. We live in a ranch home with large windows. In the evening, I love opening the windows and letting in the cool evening air in to the house and then pulling down the blinds to snuggle my little ones into bed. In the morning, when I pull down the blinds, the outside garden appears to be inside. Opening the home up to the fresh green garden, grass and trees and Colorado blue sky, starts out my morning on a good note.

Reply

70 From Belgium June 7, 2011 at 2:42 am

Shutters are essential to keep the heat out during summer and the house warm during winter. Most new houses – mine for instance – don’t have them anymore since they are very expensive. But we are going to add them later.

Reply

71 Kathy C. June 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Just came back from France and Italy. I loved the routine of opening and closing shutters. I enjoyed being the first one up just so I could have the honors. There is something almost sacred and symbolic to this simple act. I discovered your blog a few months before planning our trip. My anticipation grew as I would read your blog and savor your delicious photographs. Now that we are back, I can continue to experience the beauty and richness that France has to offer through your blog. What a blessing to your children to have this experience. Thanks for sharing your journey.

Reply

72 Madison Judd June 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Love ALL of these experiences in Paris.
Yes, shutting and opening shutters would become my routine IMMEDIATELY.
I’m all about routine and schedules.
Some day I will be traveling abroad, while my husband is out skateboarding.
Love your blog.
Thank you for the INSPIREration.
Mada.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: