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Fake shutters make me angry (2018) (thecraftsmanblog.com)
144 points by quantumb 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 147 comments

These "fake shutters" are just window trim, and there's nothing wrong with that. This type of misguided plea for authenticity would be valid if somebody put mis-sized or fake shutters on an actual period house, but most of these houses are modern. They weren't designed to have real shutters, they don't need real shutters to thermally perform, and the material and type of real shutters that you put on houses that actually need hurricane protection now is not always the same as it was 100 years ago. This is like complaining about "fake columns" on a neoclassical facade. Or the non-structural "fake brick" on any modern building.

I appreciate your point of view, and I find it somewhat persuasive.

But my personal aesthetic compass swings back and still chafes at the "non-functional" functional part. More than any other analogy, it reminds me of fake scoops or vents on some sport cars or sport image cars, which are actually completely non-permeable and definitely don't lead anywhere or do anything. They're aesthetic trim yes, but they're also a... Dunno, pretense? It reveals a slightly "wannabe" attitude.

Though it's possible I'm reading too much into the whole thing - non functional spoilers / wings don't bother me nearly as much on cars. Maybe fake shutters just look cheesier?

So I guess that fake brick feels like non functional spoilers. Fake shutters feel like non functional scoops.

If you dress up for the opera, take a look at your clothes - almost every aspect will be some “fake aesthetic” that has become standard.

I was hoping for more detailed reasoning beyond “it’s fake and not a great imitation” - but so are many other vestigial fashion items. Ties don’t work well as bibs anymore, after all.

Hmm, I see what you are saying, but I don't think most opera-dress-up items are pretending to be highly functional. They have transformed long time ago into purely aesthetic.

To go back to my car analogy comfort zone ;), I don't like 22" rims personally (16" tires are so much cheaper:); but they don't bother me. There's no pretense at functionality, some people just think it looks cool, awesome. Some people think ties look cool, awesome. It's not a "fake" 22" rim, it's not a "fake" tie.

But a non-functional hood scoop, and non-functional shutter, strike me as "fake" in way that other fashion/aesthetic items do not. A hood scoop hugely implies that it's shunting air somewhere important. A shutter hugely implies that you can open or close it, brighten or darken the room. They have not yet transformed far enough from their functional origins. Whereas a modern tie doesn't hugely imply anything functional that I or anybody few generations around me have any cognizance of. Heck, I'm from Croatia, and I have to Google every time what Kravat was actually used for - I honest to gawd cannot even think right now what Tie could have been functionally used for.

Maybe a hundred years from now, when hydrogen and electric cars are all anybody ever remembers, hood scoops will be seen as purely an aesthetic choice; and maybe to people from different climates shutters already seem a purely aesthetic choice. To me, today here now, fixed, wrongly-proportioned ones don't evoke either "pretty" or "ugly", they evoke "cheap ridiculous fake".

My 100 Croatian Lipa :->

While I also consider the fake shutters silly, when it comes to the broader fake = cheap feeling, I used to think the same way but recently got educated and it changed my outlook a lot.

Please think of a Greek temple, something that probably evokes feelings of monumental, functional beauty to last the ages. But their structures are largely non-functional, and stone is ill-suited to their construction - consider their long, horizontal roof beams. This is widely considered to be a result of faking wood structures with their light frames, and the classical columns we all know were likely meant to imitate bundles of wooden poles that originally served this role. This theory is known as petrification.[1] Modern neoclassicist buildings are fakery all the way down. They usually have steel frames at their hearts and zero need for stone veneers, columns, and arches, but we still enjoy the traditional, trustworthy feel they evoke.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_architecture#Petrifi...

I got educated on something new today. Thank you.

It does shift my outlook, but not enough. Let’s say that the Greek structures were the “fake spoilers” of their day and we mistakenly took it as the pinnacle of engineering and craft. That doesn’t change the fact that marble lasts longer than wood, or that certain designs can objectively hold more weight from a heavy roof, or that some designs keep rain and snow out better than others.

From that perspective, I argue that “fake shutters” are less like Greek columns and more like a fisher-price hammer (especially when a nail needs to be hammered).

I think your description of modern buildings faking classical ones actually meshes with the author's. If the fake shutters were sized correctly such that we could picture them covering the windows when closed, they would be more palatable. And likewise, if a modern steel structure, clad in stone veneer put in false columns that only went up halfway to the roof above and then just left empty space above them, they probably would be irksome to no end.

> A shutter hugely implies that you can open or close it, brighten or darken the room.

This probably varies by the viewer

What about hood scoops on a die cast model car?

> If you dress up for the opera, take a look at your clothes - almost every aspect will be some “fake aesthetic” that has become standard.

I agree wholeheartedly and find the idea of dressing up a specific way for anything but practical/safety reasons or costume parties to be silly. Most non-safety dress codes only exist to artificially segment the population.

Now I’m imaging you showing up to the opera in full PPE.

(Of course, if that become standard fake PPE would begin to become common).

I've seen nonfunctional mesh masks worn by people protesting mask mandates.

Except that even smart clothes have a functional use: as clothes. Fake shutters have no utility value.

A closer analogy to dressing up for the opera would be artisanal hand-carved decorative (but functional) shutters basic plain shutters. They both have the same utility but one has nicer aesthetic.

I don't know what you mean with the opera thing - how so?

A more obvious parallel would be in useless decorative zippers on "cool" clothes, where "cool" is the interpretation of a clueless mom of what their teenager kid will like.

Why would you dress up for an opera? You just go there in your regular clothes, it is like going to see a movie.

Because it's fun to.

Indeed. Go there to enjoy it. You'll probably get more out of it than the dressed-to-the-nines people.

given the argument that good design is functional design fake anything that serves no functional purpose would, if that argument holds sway, be bad.

I don't think most people would actually utilize a handkerchief, especially one of the flimsier pocket squares that comes with a tux. But it looks cool.

> But my personal aesthetic compass swings back and still chafes at the "non-functional" functional part.

My problem is not really that they are not functional. It’s that they do not even try. It’s like they insult my intelligence by being ostensibly worse than useless. These 20 cm wide things are a joke, they’re not even trying. They could have least have the right shape, size, and an overall plausible appearance.

It’s also really ugly. Part of the appeal of the real thing is the harmonious shapes and proportions with the windows they are supposed to protect. Thin bands on either sides of a large window just looks absolutely terrible.

Now people are putting fake handles on their roll-up garage doors to make them look like a door that opens horizontally in the middle. I find it even worse than the fake shutters.

Guilty as charged. To be honest though, my (detached) garage looks much better with them - possibly because a lot of the old garages in my area actually are old carriage houses (or replacements for them)

Reported to the architecture police.

How about fake chimneys with some sort of fake stone/brick veneer on the exterior? Looks convincing from afar, but you can tell they're fake if you saw them under construction with the wood framing and plywood underneath.

> But my personal aesthetic

And there's where it all falls apart. Your (and the author's) personal aesthetic is not the be-all, end-all of design. You may not like how they look, but others do. And that's fine.

(I happen to agree with you; I grew up in houses with fake shutters and thought they were a silly design choice. But I'm not the final word on design, and I suspect the author is not either.)

I mean, not "fall apart" as such. I assumed it was part of the premise from the start that we are sharing subjective preferences here, not laws of nature :).

I am reminded of new building built near me a few years ago. To be "in character" with the buildings around it (which are >100 year old brick industrial buildings) the brick veneer includes several "windows" on one end that were "bricked up" with a different style of brick than the rest of the veneer.

The new building has a significantly different aspect ratio than the surrounding buildings (tall and thin, versus low and wide). It's 3 stories, unlike the 1 or 2 story buildings around it. It also has a roof line completely unlike anything close by. It really sticks out visually.

It's got bricked-up windows, though.

> These "fake shutters" are just window trim, and there's nothing wrong with that.

His problem is not that they're window trim, it is that they don't seem to even be trying to make them aesthetically accurate to the real ones.

> Reason #1 They Don’t Fit […] If your window is 6 feet wide and your shutter is only a foot wide, who do you think you are fooling? You may not think it’s a big deal, but proportions matter. Putting undersized fake shutters on your house is like driving a big rig with 18 donut spare tires.

Would it be that hard to have the shutters be the same area as the window for good proportionality?

It's like having (fake) columns and not making the effort to making sure the measurements are right:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_order

He wants people to make an effort to do things properly instead of in a slap-dash fashion. If someone wants a certain aesthetic look or feature, then actually try to re-create it. Otherwise why bother wasting people's time and money?

“Would it be that hard to have the shutters be the same area as the window for good proportionality?”

Considering one of the pics showed a window taking up 70% of the available space, I’d say the designer would tell you that having shutters with the same area as the window would be an impossibility.

> This is like complaining about "fake columns" on a neoclassical facade. Or the non-structural "fake brick" on any modern building.

It is. But I'm more on the author's side than not on this. I mean, fake shutters don't make me angry -- but I do notice them because they look so stupid. I feel similarly about most fake columns. Not so much about fake brick.

I think I react that way because they're so obviously fake -- that's what makes them stupid. If they were decorative but plausible, I'd react differently. I suspect that's why I don't mind the fake brick -- most fake brick looks realistic.

Fake brick may be fine; I haven't done an extensive survey. The fake rock sold for use on exteriors, however, is awful. If you're closer than twenty feet, the wood glue they use to paste it to the paneling is the most visible feature. Nothing that looks like mortar is used. Closer up, the "rocks" themselves start to look like those sold for aquariums. I suspect that the architects who spec these never visit their mistakes.

I have no problem with non-functional facsimiles of things. Like, I'd rather have a stick-framed house with brick veneer than an actual brick house. (Easier to modify, better seismic, better insulation, etc.) Brick looks nice, and that's all I'm wanting out of it.

Same with my old patio. Instead of paying lots of money for large-format tiles, I had someone skim coat some colored concrete on top, using pin-striping tape to give the illusion of grout lines. (Tape is pulled up after concrete cures a bit, so there's actual grooves) Came out looking fantastic, and was much cheaper. But the guy who did it still had to pay attention to the details, like not having patterns magically cross the grout lines. Real tile would never do that, so my fake tile better not, either.

My issue with these shutters isn't that they're not "real", but that their attempt to mimic fails and basically sticks out as shoddy work.

Go ahead and fake it, but please put some effort into the illusion. Otherwise why bother with louvers that slant wrong, and shutters that have no hope of matching the adjacent window's proportion?

> I have no problem with non-functional facsimiles of things.

I needed a damaged tile floor repaired once. But the tile was not available. A local artist said "no problem" and with mortar and paint was able to very convincingly fake it.

Faux finishes and Trompe-l'œil are really incredible art in and of themselves, and are a lot of fun, too. I have a Trompe-l'œil mouse running along the baseboard in my house :-)

> I have a Trompe-l'œil mouse running along the baseboard in my house :-)

That's awesome. I had to look up "Trompe-l'œil" to see what you meant. That image search is neat.

And this mouse[0] would work perfectly in my hallway. There's already some cracking plaster in there. Might as well lean into it.

[0] https://i.imgur.com/4U6G8sH.jpg

Love it!

I agree. Know what I hate way more than fake shutters? Giant flat exterior walls, usually on the site of the house, with a couple of small, undecorated windows. To me, they look like a kid drew a house and then remembered to draw a couple of holes on it.

Yes! I had a guy painting my old house, and when he was done I was staring at it and it looked...ugly. Not the paint, something was off about it. He forgot to put the cheap plastic fake shutters on. Much better.

One of the worst offenders are the low-rise apartment buildings painted in beige or other “semi-arid” palette that are built with a street level soft storey and have square holes in the walls for windows but are otherwise unadorned. The kinds that northridge often toppled.

They suck.

Oh, those are horrid. Not that shutters would suddenly make them attractive, but they could use something to give them visual interest.

House-shaped box. Windows are expensive, see. It's especially annoying when the home is in a northerly latitude, and the S/SE facing side has no windows.

The difference is that fake brick and fake columns can form visually convincing illusions. Fake shutters aren't a convincing illusion of real shutters, but they look enough like shutters that they aren't convincing as non-functional decoration, either.

If you had fake shutters that were wide enough that I could imagine them being able to cover the window if they were able to close, I personally wouldn't be bothered by them.

What about real but collapsible shutters? They often come from above but they scrunch down to a smaller space than actual shutters would.

I've seen them up north and I think they're a good fit there.

I suspect (not sure) that they aren't as strong as single piece shutters and here on the Gulf coast it might make a difference.

Noting here that I prefer typical shutters over rolldown protection. Hinged shutters are great to reduce light and the winds that rolldown are good for can lift off (gable strapped) roofs.

I don't have a problem with folding shutters, though I don't see them around much.

> This is like complaining about "fake columns" on a neoclassical facade. Or the non-structural "fake brick" on any modern building.

Those seem like valid things to complain about.

Brick needs no painting. If you’re choosing a brick finish to save on exterior maintenance, then the brick is functional, even if not structural.

Shutters that close are terrifically useful for reducing light & noise and for storm protection (I'm in FL).

What fake shutters do is endlessly remind me how marvelously stupid it is that that I don't have actual shutters.

People started to have short-grass lawns because they were pretending they were an estate house with livestock. That's a much worse waste of resources in my opinion, because most Americans have forgotten why they were doing it. It a zombie affectation.

Turf lawns started out being grazed, but very quickly transitioned into being maintained manually by humans. It took a while before became common because care was so time consuming and obviously expensive.

A turf grass lawn is incredibly practical. It aids with the control of bugs and rodents, it is easy to walk and run in without twisting an ankle because of a hidden hole, it great for sports like soccer, bad mitten, corn hole etc. You don't lose everything you drop, you can walk through it without getting ticks on yourself (try walking through a pasture in the NE during the summer). You can throw a towel down and sunbath. Infants can learn how to walk on one and play with minimal risks. They are great for water fights with your kids in the heat of the summer.

Turf lawns are incredibly useful.

Back to the original point - the problem with shutters today on most houses is not they exist, but they are such a low-quality effort. Superfluous items can have a place in design, but at least make an effort and show an ounce of care. Here is a video showing a minor detail that can make a big difference:


“such a low-quality effort.”

Exactly. To use the turf example: what if people started installing turf lawns that were lumpy, blotchy, brown, and uncomfortable to walk on just because the factory could pump that kind out faster?

Based on the comment threads here, guaranteed some percentage of people would argue that those lawns have benefits and should continue to be produced.

I don't believe this one. I guess it's possible it was originally true, but I don't think it's relevant now. I've lived in a house where we let the lawn go. It got very brushy and wasn't usable by us anymore. It was difficult to even walk though. AND, by that point it was too high to cut back into shape with a regular lawnmower. So I keep my lawn trimmed for the practical reason of wanting to use it.

Well, sure, if you have a lawn and stop maintaining it, the result will suck. That’s not the alternative though, which is environment appropriate landscaping. Out west that’s often succulents and hardscape. Where I live in the Midwest, that’s perennial flowers and prairie.

You don't want that near your house unless you like pests and rodents.

That’s overhyped. Keep your foundation clear and dry, and the wildlife will stay in the habitat you create. I live by a forest, and when we moved in the place was surrounded by sterile lawn. We had all sorts of german cockroaches crawling in, mouse damage in the garage, mice hiding in all the outdoor equipment, etc. Since then, I’ve been waging war on the lawn, and despite obvious vole activity in the various mulched areas, the pest situation in the home is better, if anything.

I have a pasture 20ft from my barn and no way would I want that as close to my house as my turf is. Mice, ground hogs, ticks, a gazillion insects, ground hornets, all sorts of weeds including poison ivy, wild animal poop you can't see because the vegetation hides it, so you step in it. You can't walk through it in summer in shorts unless it is mowed like grass. Forget walking barefoot.

What you describe is not replacing turf grass with pasture, which is what the parent described that I responded to.

I get a certain (artistic?) satisfaction in bringing order out of natural disorder. Trimmed bushes, groomed/edged lawn, mulched beds - can't all be a throwback to a bygone era, can it?

Keeping short grass helps keep vermin away from the house. It is pleasing to walk on, shoes or barefoot. It has an orderly aesthetic.

HOAs and city ordinances that measure the height of your grass to within a quarter of an inch are absurd, but letting your entire yard go wild isn't great either.

My house is surrounded by forest and wild grassy areas, but we still keep a buffer of short grass at least 25' on all sides (with some ornamental bushes and a few select trees) and I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Speed holes on various upsettingly ugly vehicles would agree with you I suppose.

I personally don't care about the function or lack-there-of, but many of your examples seem to embody the desolate nature of suburbia in the same way as awful cul-de-sacs, lawns, or Applebees; they're a bad compromise. If you don't need pillars, make something good using the framework you're operating in and add other decorations that aren't trying to be something they're not.

Fuck fake pillars. They're as gross as the stupid greyish peach tan colour the house is painted.

My house has the "Are You Kidding Me" 11ft wide windows with 1ft wide shutters variety. It's stupid practically speaking, but they've been there for decades and they look nice.

Rather than ranting about how terrible they are, it would be be helpful to offer some alternative dressing - I have 3 more huge windows without fake shutters that look quite plain...

“it would be be helpful to offer some alternative dressing”

Honestly, this is probably the part that irks me the most about fake shutters (and that says a lot). If you’re not going to make the illusion convincing, then why not make something genuinely aesthetically pleasing that’s not shutters at all?

Something based on picture frames, or some type of CNC-cut pattern, or even just wider vertical sections painted the same colour as the rest of the trim.

We’ve been making interesting accents around rectangles for hundreds of years. The well is deep and full of beauty!

> they look nice

That's the key to this entire thing -- I'm having trouble believing people don't understand that this: discussion on the functionality is fine, but at the end of the day the "fake shutters" are decoration.

I'm having trouble believing that people don't understand this: the criticism isn't that someone is decorating, but that this specific choice of decoration feels self-contradictory and stands out as unusual to many people.

If you want decorative rectangles to the sides of your windows, great, go for it! What's the specific value add of designing those decorative rectangles to look like spectacularly useless shutters, instead of any other decorative design that's not trying to look like something functional in a way that contradicts that suggested functionality?

Alternatively, if you want your decorations to look like shutters because you like the aesthetic of shutters, why would you choose for them to look like useless nonfunctional shutters instead of designing them to actually look like a usable shutter?

What's the reasoning behind someone who sits down to design a house and concludes "I want this to look like shutters, but I really want it to look like bad, useless shutters that could never work."?

Either make it look like a shutter, or don't, but it's baffling to me that so many people decide to hang out in the uncanny valley between those two options.

There's nothing wrong with your view or the author's, however it seems like you're talking past each other because neither of you are each other's target demographic.

This is like complaining about how bad JavaScript is as a language on a thread about React, or something. It's nearly irrelevant

I challenge you:

Which demographic wants fake shutters that are visibly useless?

Having fake brick anywhere or a column that doesn’t actually support anything is also terrible. If something looks like a stone or brick it better not be a thin fake thing on a piece of exterior sheeting.

But I agree on the principle because the most common window trim today: muntins (Glazing bars) is almost invariably “fake” today, in that it doesn’t have the original function of breaking up the glass in smaller and cheaper pieces. Today it’s purely a trim. Seen that way, I guess there is nothing wrong with having shutters for the same reason.

I do agree with the author on one thing though: if one does put fixed shutters on a house then at least make them plausible. Just get shutters that are half the window size. Choosing shutters 1/3 the window width makes little sense.

Non-structural brick and columns aren't the same thing at all. They look like they could be the real thing doing the real job.

These shutters are visibly non-functional.

"just window trim, and there's nothing wrong with that"

I agree! And so do my inflatable biceps!

Sometimes they can't even get them right as decoration:


How do I delete this?

I might be misremembering, but I'm pretty sure my grandparent's house had bifold shutters[1], which genuinely are just 1/4 the width of the window, and the visible slats when open (and folded) face the same way they would when closed. I always assumed that was the style that all the fake shutters were copying, negating his first two points in most cases.

[1] https://www.newhorizonshutters.com/new-page-321

> and the visible slats when open (and folded) face the same way they would when closed.

Looking at the diagram on that page (which matches my childhood memories of a similar window shutter design), the "outside shutter" turns 180° when open, so the visible slats would be facing the opposite direction. It's the "inside shutter" which turns 360° and thus would have the visible slats facing the same direction, but when fully open it's hidden by the "outside shutter".

Hah, I didn't look at that closely, just linked the first example I found. The ones I am remembering opened more accordion style, where when closed the outside of the outermost panel would be against the wall, the outside of the innermost panel would be visible. The way these are hinged seems like they would close more securely though.

A rage post I can get behind. We shouldn't be raising kids to believe that decorative BS is what houses are about.

If more houses had real shutters, we could close the shutters during tornado warnings and hurricane warnings instead of running to the store, buying ugly particle board and nailing it over our windows. Duh.

This is a plague upon the American landscape or our movies would show people closing the shutters because a storm is coming instead of showing them boarding up perfectly good windows on houses currently in use.

I approve this rant. More power to him.

I have a strong objection to point #2 "Reason #2 The Slats Are Wrong" - so if you've got fake shutters that are going to be bolted to the wall you've got a choice to make. Do you want to channel water right against the siding and probably create some pinch points (since those suckers are right against the wall) where water will collect and mold/lichen will flourish? Or do you tilt the louvers the other way so that water is channeled away from the siding? If you take the later approach some particularly anal folks might get annoyed but you won't be creating a maintenance nightmare for yourself and, anyways, it's just for appearance.

I think fake shutters are pretty dump but if you're going to have them - please install them so the water gets deflected away from the siding instead of in towards the siding. It's only for appearances anyways so would you rather have lichen spots around your fake shutters or just have a nice clean surface?

Fake shutters aren't any more or less stupid than a painting hanging on a wall. It's an aesthetic accoutrement that makes people happy. If you have a problem with that you need to fold up your lawn chair, go back inside, and find something better to do with your time.

Maybe you could write a blog post about how people should stop writing blog posts about fake shutters, then when it gets posted to HN the contrarian crowd like yourself can complain and wish that you'd just fold up your lawn chair and stop complaining about people complaining about fake shutters.

I think there's a notable difference between something like a painting and something that mimics a functional component without actually doing anything. It's a bit like if your computer had a painted-on CD tray.

So what if it did? Shutters and disc drives are both things that aren't especially useful with modern technology. What if I liked the look of it anyway? Do magnetic fake handles on garage doors make the author angry too? Let people enjoy things.

How are shutters any less useful these days than before? They still provide the same exact protection from storms etc.

Windows without any decent casing look terrible especially with viynl siding. That's a reason to add shutters since it breaks up the visual ugliness.

Came to this thread to say the same. It’s just a design element that was coincidentally successful when it had real function. Window frames without decoration look like technological holes, and default coloring (cheap white frame contrasting with the wall material) doesn’t help either.

And if fake shutters are the thing that you're getting angry about, you aren't paying attention.

“Ornament is Crime”

—Modernism’s rallying cry, beginning with Adolf Loos in 1910.

Are we still doing this debate a century later? I think for the most part, not. It’s fine to like ornament. It’s fine to prefer form that follows function.

But getting angry about ornament? This can’t be good for anybody’s blood pressure.

Yes. I had the same thoughts as the author until I saw a house with vinyl siding and no shutters by the windows. It just looks ugly to me and I will happily spend the money so my house doesn't look like that.

I think they're funny, but somehow I don't believe that the people installing those want others to think "what a silly looking house!"

Why not, instead of slapping two slabs of flimsy plastic next to your window as an afterthought, have ornamentation that looks good?

The video at the end is pretty good, although the article spoils it a bit :D

I will say this is only one of many dozen things that are very fake and chintzy about most architecture, and once you start to see them you can't unsee them. The truth is that people like cheap, tacky stuff, and "knowing better" just makes one miserable, so I would say if you want to be happy then don't learn about architecture. Even more so, don't learn about urbanism and urban design -- just so painful.

(Caveat, this is mostly only true in places built after 1950 or so. Older places are often delightful for the architecture / urbanism inclined.)

It’s the kerning thing - once you notice it you see it everywhere.

My house has fake shutters and I actually took one off to see what it looked like - I put it back on as it just didn’t look right.

You reminded me of a video from Strongtowns I saw recently and now get annoyed when I see something specific out by the street. This video even starts with a disclaimer to not watch it if you don't want to be continuously annoyed by the built environment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of81YkHsv88 (59 seconds long)

Hah, reminds me that we have some utility boxes out here that have been painted to make them more interesting / less of an eyesore. Just another strategy to make them less... adversarial.


The house we bought (in 95) had those and we took them off and right away put them back on, looks better with.

Arguing against them is like arguing against painting your house different colors, seems silly. Also, real shutters aren't as practical as curtains or internal blinds.

Curtains or blinds are more practical for privacy, but not so practical for blowing debris in a storm (or even just keeping the sun from heating up the house, though modern sunshade material aka Coolaroo would do a better job of that).

When I read this article, it makes me think about how people who are obsessed with their fields of expertise get worked up about things which seem unimportant or obscure to outsiders.

If your reaction to his complaint is "ha ha, who cares about fake shutters, it doesn't make a difference" then think about what arguments about code or branching style mean to people who don't think about working in a repository every day.

"Well, that's totally different, because..."

Years ago we bought a house in a neighborhood of inexpensive, mostly similar and very dull boxes. The trim around almost everyone’s windows was a plain 1x4. Most people painted the house and trim bright contrasting colors, and they were all kind of ugly.

When it was time to paint our house, we picked a soft, light green to blend in with the surrounding grassy hills. The painter was simply gobsmacked that we wanted him to paint the walls and all the window trim the same color. But to us it just made sense not to call attention to some ugly trim.

Sure enough, it turned out great. Within six months, a bunch of other houses in the neighborhood had been painted similarly.

Driving by there recently after having moved away a few years later, a quarter or a third of the houses have given up the “Dame Edna” look in favor of minimal or no differentiation in window trim color. The whole neighborhood looks much calmer.

Look at it differently: there's a market for more creative plastic window accent trim thingies. I'm thinking a pair of goatse hands, or T Rex heads with big fangs...

Please make creative use of that awkward round window found in the gable end of many houses.

Everyone making fun of this guy is correct.

I live in a neighborhood where all the (stucco) houses were built in the 50s. They almost all have fake shutters, and the ones that don't, look stupid.

Now, McMansion "pillars" -- those do make me crazy (irony intended).

In case anyone is still looking at this thread:

I walked the dog tonight & actually looked at the windows on the houses. They are not mainly fake-shuttered, as I asserted. I'm sure that's a load off OP's mind. Even my house has wood borders that make no pretense of having a function.

Most houses have some kind of trim, presumably wood, painted in a contrasting color. Others just have the white vinyl borders that the windows were manufactured with. A fair number of fake shutters.

It's not just shutters. Many aspects of modern home design are an attempt to look somewhat similar to older styles in ways that do not hold up to scrutiny. For example the siding on my house is vinyl but it's meant to look like wood shingles. The concrete foundation is covered with fake vinyl brick. This was probably all installed at the same time as the fake shutters.

The "wooden" vinyl surfaces are just great. They have almost all the upsides of wood and ceramic at the same time.

They also look good faded unlike the vinyl brick which no longer looks like real brick.

There was a thing 10-20 years ago in the UK where there'd be pillars in front of the front door. They didn't hold anything up and were purely decorative, but people loved them for some reason.

Decorative facades have always been a thing, it's just the form that changes.

Take that a step further, and you have pilasters - a facade of a column.

Pilasters have been a design feature as far back as at least the Roman Empire…

Yup. Turns out people love pimping their houses!

Fake shutters exist because home exteriors look barren without them. Additionally, shutters predate window blinds, blackout shades, etc. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not a huge fan of hearing shutters bang against the side of my house in a windy storm.

At my folks' house, they've kept their fake shutters and also have these galvanized storm shutters which open and close from the top. They block out some sunlight but also keep the house cooler and make for less effort when securing windows in the event of hurricanes.

Fashion. Ties on men. "Shutters" on windows. I bet the author wears ties on occasion (hmmm, couldn't find a corroborating image).

My partner bought me a tie for her sons wedding a couple of weeks ago. It must be at least 10 years since I wore one and I genuinely could not work out why we had to.

In the 90s you needed one to get into a nightclub, never mind the day job. They've completely disappeared since thank God.

As it was I forgot to bring it to the wedding so didn't wear it anyway. Next time will probably be at my funeral, when i'm dead in a casket and won't have a choice.

Men’s neckties began as bibs. Then ornamentation took over, until they lost their original function. Much like a bird of paradise evolving long tail feathers that attract mates, but no longer keep it warm or help it fly.

I thought they began as scarves--or, more specifically, a fancy way to wear your scarf when you weren't using it to cover your neck.

Which is the same backstory as collars (you're supposed to pop them to cover your neck!).

I never knew that, thank you. Will use it the next time somebody insists I wear a tie.

It was funny though - when I was a teenager I was a bit skint, like most. You needed to wear a suit and tie to get into most nightclubs at the time. Obviously a suit was a bit spendy, so you generally had 1 decent suit, so the only way to differentiate yourself each time was a new tie.

Must have bought hundreds of the bloody things, only to discard them after 2 or 3 uses.

Had a discussion about this a few weeks ago - is Tie Rack still a thing? They used to have shops everywhere in the UK, but maybe they're still around at airports or whatnot?

I agree, mostly. I grew up in a house that had them (in the 70s), and always thought they were dumb -- even though they were on almost every house in that area. Looking on google maps, I see the current owners have recently removed some of them, and it looks really weird.


I think you need some kind of trim on windows, but agree that obviously fake shutters are kind of dumb.

Given the housing inhabited by many of my neighbors, to my eye fake shutters say "mobile home" more insistently than any of the statements in TFA or ITT. One suspects that if more people saw mobile homes more often, their tastes in adequate suburban exterior accents might change.

As a child I lived in a mobile home for years. There's nothing wrong with mobile homes. However, they are not concerned with good taste. (This is an advantage: many residents don't have time for complex yet relatively lower priorities like taste.) Neither is any other home with fake shutters.

in my mom's basement, there's about 2 dozen pairs of real antique wooden shutters, probably maple stained dark from another house.

I have no idea what to do with them. They're very nice looking but the house they fit is gone. I don't think there were standard size windows when these were made

If the wood is in good condition you could probably sell them easily to someone who would find creative uses for them.

Yeah list them on Craigslist for some stupid amount of money, and see what happens.

It used to bother me as a kid. Now, I just want to have real shutters if I were to build a house. I also understand that they use the fake shutters as a source of contrasting color and to keep the house from looking like a warehouse/barn (although there could be other ways to achieve this).

It's a form of skeuomorphism and it's something that greatly irritates me as well. Unfortunately, it's only one of the many common design atrocities you see in most neighborhoods.

Get Your House Right by Marianne Cusato (https://www.amazon.com/Get-Your-House-Right-Architectural/dp...) is a really good book that helps you appreciate some of the finer details of architecture in your own home.

This is one of those things I was better off not knowing, now it's going to mildly irritate me because I live in the suburbs and every house has these.

I guess we all collect our pet peeves eventually.

Me, I can't believe that someone could be so bothered by "fake" shutters and not notice the ubiquitous tangle of above-ground power lines (in the US, less so in Europe and the UK). Yeah, a different problem, and maybe the author is also bothered by this, but there are only so many fucks to give in life.

I had no idea fake shutters could be so controversial until I read this thread. My house has some. They've always been there and aren't very prominent. Sometimes I notice them and they seemed.. off. But I couldn't place why till now.

Where's the rant against pilasters?

These things: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-pilaster-engaged-column-...

Fake shutters are a way to provide accent colors on the house. Without them in this picture the wall would simply be one solid color. With them, you end up with a pop of color around the windows which adds some aesthetic value.

Dude I didn’t even get to read one paragraph before your pop up took up the whole screen - I’m not going to subscribe to your newsletter or get your free book. Rather I stopped reading the article.

I've been considering making "real" shutters for my house (mostly for fun), but haven't yet thought of a way to do it that wouldn't be a fire hazard when they're closed.

Mount the entire shutter assembly on an “oh shit” handle that falls off the house if pulled.

User interface design: designing something that is only used in an emergency seems likely to fail in an emergency due to unfamiliarity and stress.

What about a normal door handle then?

That has the opposite UI problem! A familiar affordance that has very unobvious consequences: the entire shutter assembly falls off the house.

Why not real shutters? Very handy in hot climates. People complain about the electricity price, so how about not building a greenhouse and then mechanically cooling it...

Not just in hot climates. It's efficient to keep heat in in winter and when it's windy.

A lot of places would not need AC and would require less heating if it would have shutters and people would know when to close/open those

What do we think the estimated ratio of fake shutters to real shutters is in the world?

Is there any other thing in the world where the fakes happily outnumbered the reals?

> Is there any other thing in the world where the fakes happily outnumbered the reals?

Lots of things.

Nonavian dinosaurs. Pockets on formalwear. Grassroots activist groups. Mona Lisas. Bombs smuggled into airports. At one time, Saddam Husseins (come to think of it, that's possibly true now for much the same reason as nonavian dinosaurs.) Pieces of the true cross. ...

One Charles de Fleury catalogued pieces of the true cross and found them to sum to 2% of a plausibly sized cross, not the oft-repeated claim that they add up to a large ship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Cross#Dispersal_of_relics paragraph 6. While perhaps biased, it does seem plausible that a cataloguing of such claimed relics today would add up to a similar total volume.

I think the claim that they would add up to a ship was made in the 1500s, while the cataloging was done in the late 1800s.

In between was the Protestant Reformation and centuries of incredibly bloody religious wars in which many of the belligerents were opposed to the idea of relics and vigorously sought to destroy them. The English Civil War is believed to have resulted in the destruction of 97% of religious art in the country[1], and England got off relatively lightly compared to much of Europe. The Thirty Years War killed a third of Germany's population.

Those wars between different Christian denominations would have destroyed many relics. Ottoman conquests and subsequent conversions to Islam would have taken care of more.

[1] https://hyperallergic.com/256802/how-a-rare-judas-painting-s...

LOL. Great list. Thank you. You're right about the fake bombs and Husseins. Mona Lisas is a contentious entry.

I guess fake indignation generally outperforms the authentic version too.

They're not fake shutters; they're real bat-houses that just happen to be badly designed on houses that usually have other design flaws too

I wish our house didn’t have them because I have recently learned they are being used as a decentralized wasps nest-city.

Fake shutters don't make me angry (not important enough for that), however, I do find them quite silly and pointless.

Obviously this article is a rant and farce.

I also know some designers who argue this very honesty.

For the latter case you know you’re in an irrational argument when someone passionately dislikes some subjective aesthetic, but shows no understanding the practice:

> “Why do they exist? I guess because real shutters look so great that a lot of other people wanted to jump on the shutter band wagon but couldn’t afford real shutters.”

It’s ok to ignore the argument.

I also hate them, I thought I was the only one. It's good to see someone with some reason left in them.

Yes, I laughed out loud and loved to see this because I've never heard anyone else articulate this opinion but me. I thought I was the only person who felt this way.

Now that I think of it, this sort of faux functionalism bothers me in other domains as well. Fake pockets, decorative buttons that look as if they are functional but are not, and so forth and so on.

I've been saying this for 20 years or more. Glad to find I'm not alone.

This much energy and passion about faux-window shutters is kind of impressive.

What about fake shutter sound?

I've seen those before on American houses, I always thought they were rather cute design choices... not fake shutters. Can't unsee it now :D

Read this website and you won’t be able to unsee a lot of things:


Ugh. That website makes me so anxious for some reason.

It taps into so many things I despise about suburban US architecture and design.

Having said that, it also taps into this kind of elitism about architecture and interior design that drives me crazy equally so. Let's say you buy that home because it's in a good location or whatever it is. Are you cursed unless you tear out everything and remodel? Is that functional? Will some of this stuff be looked at 100 years from now unironically as great design, in the same way we look back at art deco or early, pre-depression 1930s design?

Some of this stuff too is somewhat unfair. Drop ceiling tile, for example, is extremely functional in lower levels because it gives you access to pipes etc without having to patch drywall. Maybe this isn't aesthetically "clean" but it serves a purpose.

I do not know what the website’s author’s intentions are, but if my house were featured on it, I would take it in stride. I find the commentary funny, and if people like what is being made fun of, there is nothing wrong with that.

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