Building the French Farmhouse – a study of French shutters

Well, we are still plodding along with designing the house. We are actually done (I think!) with the design and it is going to structural engineering now!


So, now that we are pretty much done with the design, now I am tasked with actually picking out the windows and shutters I want to use as it is one of the first things to go up and there is a long lead time for these items.


So, for about half the windows in the house we will be having working shutters on the windows. Yes, they have to be working! That is key!  In France, the shutters are actually called volets and they actually open and close – unlike most shutters in the USA that are there for looks alone.

So, why have a working shutter?


Security – they provide excellent security as if you are away you can just close up the house and a robber can’t just break in.


Insulation – here in the hot hot California valley it is nice to be able to close up South facing side of the house to keep the heat out. Oh, then there’s the part where the bedrooms can be pitch black for sleeping – important to someone who works nights!


The sizing is always right – it drives me *nuts* when I see houses with shutters that are disproportionate… a 1 foot shutter next to a 4 foot window? If that shutter were to close it would leave 3 feet of the window exposed! I know it’s for looks but volets would never work like that! I know it is super nit picky and sorry if your house has that (soooo many houses do, including my childhood house!), but I just don’t understand why builders can’t build faux shutters that are least the appropriate size. (rant ended).


This website (in French, but I have it translated to English) talks about the proper volet.  There are several different types, rolling ones, swing shutters, folding flap shutters.

I’m interested in swing shutters only.


Below are rolling shutters…

Below are folding flap shutters…

 The different types of swinging shutters….

We were debating about what type of panel to go with.  We are leaning to the B-n-B (Board and Batten).  The Board ad Batten seems to be more French country and less formal than the other types.

So, I thought I’d turn to photos of houses in France.

Below, is board and batten.

Two different types of shutters… ground floor is raised panel and upper floor is board and batten.



Horizontal ones…

Board and Batten…

Board and batten up on the windows and the horizontal ones on the door



We found this company, Timberlane, who makes what seems to be pretty nice working shutters. They have several types of Board and Batten and we were debating between the “closed vertical groove”…

 …and the “open”.  We were leaning towards the open one because we think it looks more authentic. What do YOU think??

The other company we are looking at is Southern Shutter.  Have you heard of anything of either Timberlane or Southern Shutter? Are there other companies you know of that are quality and we should consider?

See, here is an open board and batten (in like the cutest little window EVER)

The OTHER question for you is… what about the hardware?

We really like the cutesy hinge hardware on the shutters below.

Here, someone did the same hardware BUT they put it above and below the horizontal board and I do not like it that way. It has to be on the horizontal board.

See, like below, they put the hardware on the horizontal board.

 Or, do we leave them plain, like so…

 Or here…

 Or here…

What do you all think??
Open board and batten vs closed vertical groove?
Fancy shutter hardware vs plain shutters?


  1. August 7, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    Great post! I love the open shutters with no fancy hardware. Hinges on the inside with shutter dogs. Most authentic!
    I will send a picture of our shutters!

    • August 8, 2016 / 12:04 am

      I think I agree, no fancy hardware! I appreciate all of your thoughts, you are too kind to email me a picture 🙂

  2. August 8, 2016 / 12:55 am

    Great information. We have shutters, but they are stationary. I agree, the working shutters are the best. '-) Your home is going to be fabulous. So many details and decisions.

    • August 9, 2016 / 4:16 am

      Me too! My dream for the future! Either take them OFF! Or make them work!

      Another great blog: For the love of a house……they took them off….(a colonial in New Hampshire) and the house looked far more authentic without the fake shutters! Very interesting!!!

      I think you will enjoy!!!

  3. August 8, 2016 / 8:45 pm

    Board and batten, open, without fancy hinges… I so enjoyed looking at all these French houses with shutters. Great collection to illustrate the various styles…


    • August 9, 2016 / 4:10 am

      Thank you for your vote! I am thinking I am going to go without the fancy hinges. It is less fussy… and cheaper!

  4. August 8, 2016 / 11:07 pm

    I loved this email. My favourite one's are the open board and baton with no hard wear showing. Such a hard decision all are so beautiful x

    • August 9, 2016 / 4:10 am

      I think that is what I am going to go with! I appreciate your input – seriously helping me with making decisions!!

  5. August 9, 2016 / 3:16 am

    What a great post! I am currently trying to decide how to switch out my "fake" shutters for real ones that actually operate!

    • August 9, 2016 / 4:12 am

      Such a great idea! I cannot stand fake shutters! They don't match….would not cover the windows!
      A dreadful, fake thing builders added to houses…..not real…..not authentic!
      I see a wave of authentic!! YAY!!!

  6. August 9, 2016 / 11:36 am

    Loved all these charming pictures……….so beautiful.
    I prefer the shutters without the hardware myself, but like you, I think the ones with the hardware look
    so much better when it is on the horizontal board…..
    Thanks for the tour de France………lol
    Blessings, Nellie

  7. August 11, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    Shutters are the icing on the cake!! 🙂

  8. August 19, 2016 / 2:14 am

    It's hard to choose – they all look so nice! I do like the hinge hardware. I'm drooling over the photos of the french houses.

  9. August 22, 2016 / 1:43 am

    New subscriber here…….I house sat for family member in France a few years ago. There were shutters on the windows, but no screens. Which meant that i could suffocate in the shuttered ground floor bedroom, or leave the shutters open and breathe…… which meant also that the family cat would come in through the open window and sleep on the bed with me. Not my thing! Lucky for me, I didn't fear night-time two legged intruders, but was still glad there was a big dog in the yard next door. Today, I might worry about mosquitoes. But nothing doesn't have its good and bad points.
    I love France. My idea of a civilized country.

    I like the open b and b shutters with minimal hardware….will try to learn from your experiences and now you have me thinking i really do need to put shutters on my own house. The old ones had 40 good years and the place looks naked lately……but what to do what to do about the picture window.

    • August 22, 2016 / 4:42 am

      Thanks for subscribing to my little blog. I do understand the lack of screen issue, I would have to lock up the cat in a room if I want to open all the windows in the evening for a breeze(and hope a critter doesn't crawl in!!) I am leaning towards the minimal hardware as well, plus it's cheaper so that's nice!