Shutters Do’s and Don’ts for Instant Curb Appeal

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Shutters are well known for adding charm and character – but it’s the instant curb appeal that I love the most!

If you’ve got shutters on your mind, it’s interesting how much more likely you are to notice them as you’re driving around town!

They’re a wonderful way to add charm, character, and curb appeal, and they’re actually really simple to DIY.

But, be careful, because they’re also really easy to do incorrectly!

I’m going to share some dos and don’ts for shutters in this post, and I’ll share a tutorial for the cute board and batten style shutters my husband and I made for our cute stairwell window as well.

First up, some History!

Our modern day shutters are almost all purely cosmetic, but for most of the previous hundreds of years since they were invented, they were actually created to be functional window coverings.

They were used for:

  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Temperature Control (To block heat, or to keep warm air in, and louvered paneling allowed for fresh air to come in even when the shutter was closed.)
  • Protection from the elements (keeping windows safe during storms)

Their Purpose

That being said, their original purpose was always to open and close over the window depending on the circumstances.

When you keep that in mind, a lot of these dos and don’ts make more sense!

Here are some shutter fails I found from to emphasize my points.

Don’t Do This | Shutter Fails

  • Shutters should never be above or below windows.
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by

Only on the sides!

  • Shutters shouldn’t be bigger than the window/frame, but they also shouldn’t be too small, only covering a portion of the window.
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
  • Shutters should always be hung in a set on both sides of a window
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
  • If your window doesn’t have space on both sides, it’s best to skip the shutters.
  • The same can be said for corner windows.
  • And bay windows.
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
  • Shutters should always be directly against the trim of a window – not floating nearby.
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  • Shutters should always be hung level with each other!
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  • Shutters shouldn’t have anything layered over the top of them. (Remember, you want them to have the appearance of being able to open and close over the window.)
Shutter Don'ts by
  • Shutters should match the shape and size of your window.
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If these shutters were closed, they’d no longer fit the window shape.

Shutter Don'ts by

These are hung correctly, as far as direction is concerned – but are far too tall for this window.

  • Shutters shouldn’t be used around anything except windows. (That means no doors, no garages, and no miscellaneous wall items.)
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by
Shutter Don'ts by

Yikes. Right? I was shuddering* as I scrolled through those.

(*Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

Do This | Shutter Wins

  • Size your shutters to fit well alongside your windows.

This picture from HGTV.

  • Match the shape and size or your windows

Like this example from Arts and Crafts Homes

Other things to consider:

  • Make sure the color complements your home and surrounding decor
  • Make sure the style matches the style and era of your house

Deciding on our shutters…

A few months ago we made the DIY Self-watering Window box for our stairwell window. We loved how it turned out, but I knew it needed a little bit more.

I knew shutters would look beautiful there, but I needed to decide which kind to use.

Some of the main types of shutters are:

  • Louvered
  • Flat Panels
  • Raised Panels
  • Board & Batten

We decided to go with board and batten shutters. The other style of shutter I like best is the louvered look, but I thought it would be too busy along with our siding (which looks almost louvered itself) and our two dressed up porches.

And I knew I wanted them to be raw wood to match the other raw wood accents we have on our porches, like our church pew and the table I added to the kitchen porch during our porch refresh project last month.

I looked and found a ready to buy set for $165, but I knew my husband and I could make them for much less!

Shutters Curb Appeal by

*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.

DIY Board and Batten Shutters

This project cost us about $30, and took approximately 3 hours (including a run to Home Depot for materials.)


I knew I wanted my shutters to be approximately 12″ wide, but we figured that using 3 of our 1 x 4 ” panels (which are really milled to 3/4 x 3 1/2″) would get us close enough at 10 1/2″ wide.

We measured the height of our window between our top and bottom trim pieces and it came out to 23 1/4″.

So we cut 6 pieces (3 for each side) at 23 1/4″ using our compound miter saw.

Then we needed our cross pieces for the “battens”.

We cut 4 pieces (2 for each side) at 10 1/2 ” – the same width as our three boards.

Shutters Curb Appeal by

We used a clamp to stabilize our three boards together and measured out where we wanted our battens to sit on our boards.

We chose to have them 3 1/2″ down from the top and up from the bottom.

We marked where the battens should be, and pre-drilled holes for our nails – one in each of the boards at the bottom, and again in each board at the top.

Then we used a finish hammer (with a flat face, not the “waffle” face of a framing hammer) to pound our 2 1/2″ finish nails in about 1 1/2″ – not all the way in! The last 1″ of the nail will help secure the shutters to our exterior wall.

Then we got to do the fun part – installing them on each side of our window!

Once they were nailed into the exterior wall. My husband, Colby applied a coat of spar urethane to help protect the wood from weather damage.

The two of us have found that we prefer pouring our clear coat into a plastic container (in this case, a red solo cup) to work from when we’re applying it onto a piece rather than dipping directly into the can. It seems to help eliminate any kind of contamination from our brush into the leftover product in the can. I also usually use a chip brush for any oil based paint applications – because I don’t like having to try and wash oil based product out of a quality brush.

Our shutters will be pretty well protected by the eaves from our roof since they’re right up against the house, so we didn’t think it was necessary to spend a lot of time coating them with the clear coat on all sides before hanging them up.

If you wanted a more thorough coat of clear coat, you could certainly cover the boards individually before assembling, or cover the assembled piece before installing it on the wall. It’s a personal preference, and depends mostly on where the shutters will be, and how much weather they’ll be exposed to!

Shutters Curb Appeal by

And that’s that! I hope you enjoyed this in depth expose (haha – I’m joking) about shutters and that you’re inspired to look into them for your own place if you’ve considered it in the past!

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Shutters Dos and Donts Curb Appeal by

Until next time,



  1. Jacqueline
    August 29, 2020 / 10:01 AM

    Your shutters are beautiful! Those fails are hilarious!

    • Jon clark
      June 25, 2021 / 9:45 AM

      Look very nice, but one thing you left out and its commonly overlooked, is that you really should leave a space about the thickness of a paint stirrer, between each of the 1x4s as they will shrink and swell despite the poly coating. In fact, that is what we use for spacers when building them. Its also advisable to use some wood glue in addition when building them, just makes for a more durable and solid shutter.

  2. marla Kai west
    December 6, 2020 / 12:58 PM

    ahahahahaha! I love your comments with the fails!

  3. Loretta Fortney
    March 31, 2021 / 8:47 AM

    My cottage is yellow with white trim & the front door is Cape Cod Blue & fish scale is the same blue. I have ordered crosshatch shutters. What color would you paint the shutters?
    Would it be too much to paint them blue. I also have ordered a porch swing which will be next to shutters on the wraparound porch. The porch has white columns, ballisters, & ceiling.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      April 18, 2021 / 9:30 PM

      Can you DM me a pic on IG, I can answer this question in my stories once I see the house!

      • Tim
        May 14, 2021 / 3:55 PM

        Hi, I am about to build shutters similar to yours but with 1×6 3 across instead of 1×4. I read that you should cut shutters exactly to window case height but some others suggest adding 3 inches. What do you think about that? I want this to look good.

  4. Barb
    June 25, 2021 / 7:13 PM

    I have an unusual situation with my house. I live in the house that I grew up in but at some point someone changed the shutters on them and put awnings with different type shutters. They did a horrible job. I want to go back to B&b shutters that were on the house when I was a girl but not sure how to work around the awnings. Any suggestions. I live in Charleston, SC where we try and keep things historical. I’m trying to bring it back as much as I can.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      August 25, 2021 / 12:54 AM

      I would need to see a picture to give you my thoughts, you can email me one at [email protected] and I should warn you, I am NOT a historical expert, by any means. 🙂

  5. Shell
    September 22, 2021 / 3:49 PM

    Thought you said they should be same size and as height as window. They look too small.

  6. October 14, 2021 / 4:36 AM

    Love the article, i live in Ontario Canada, and have been looking for a company that sells and installs shutters, guess what? I can’t find anyone and the 1 company that states they make them doesn’t return calls or emails, lowes has them but they are very cheaply made
    I have a century home that needs black windows shutters HELP!!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      December 7, 2021 / 10:26 PM

      Oh no, I’m sorry! Do you know anyone who could possibly build them for you?

  7. Lydia Yarbrough
    April 30, 2022 / 8:24 AM

    We have four windows across the front of our beach cottage. Two are under the covered porch. There isn’t enough room on the inner side of these two as they flank the front door. There is plenty of room on the outer sides while still remaining under the porch. We plan to put shutters on the two windows that aren’t under the porch. Can you put a shutter on the outer side of the ones under the porch? I was unable to send a pic of this.

  8. Linda
    May 15, 2022 / 6:15 AM

    Your own shutters appear not to match your own rules regarding matching to size/height of windows. Can you explain?

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