I really should title this post "trust your gut!" That said, I have a feeling that I'm going to get some push-back from
a lot some of you regarding a recent design decision, but I'm trusting my gut and I'm hoping I can walk you through my design thought process!
As mentioned in my last "around the house a.k.a. keeping it real" post HERE I said that our next big project was painting the exterior of the farmhouse. The whole exterior doesn't need painting, just several walls that have taken a beating from our New England winters. The barn (thankfully for the pocketbook ;) is in good condition. The barn is stained and the house is painted; the stain has held up much better than the paint (all paint and stain colors are on my sidebar if interested.) Although we have not done this, it is a common practice here in New England to keep a painter on retainer to come paint one side of your house each year.
The scraping commences. (f.y.i., that is my antique yogurt pot that stands in the front bed which has been placed on the grass, on it's side, to keep it safe- it is not one of those half pot thingys that people lay on the ground and plant flowers in :)
Before the scraping, the first thing the painters did was remove all the shutters.
And, unbeknownst to me... I loved it!!!
I was shocked, but the farmhouse suddenly felt clean, crisp and fresh... and I felt like I could take in a big breath. Our gorgeous, unusual, antique wavy glass windows suddenly took center stage and the whole house seemed to relax a bit.
I realize this might look a bit naked or unusual if you live in the south or in a metropolitan area, but if you drive through rural New England you will see antique house upon antique house with no shutters.
Before removing the shutters for painting, the windows in the ell between the barn and the farmhouse always bothered me. They didn't have shutters which I liked conceptually since the ell was added after the house and had different windows, but not visually. But, now that the shutters on the main house are off it all "feels" right to my eye and my gut! I looked at the house from every angle, close up and at a distance. After discussing it with Dan, we made the decision of no shutters! We realized that when we drive around New Hampshire that the antique houses that we are drawn to have a look and a feeling of authenticity and we could now see that the look and feel we loved was the look of our farmhouse without shutters. And hey, I can always put them back if we were to change our minds, but I love the way the house looks and feels.
Before I gave the "no-shutter" word to the painter, I wanted to make sure I was 100% with the decision. I had the thought that I should look at photos of farmhouses and cottages that I have collected over the last couple of years, and I'll be damned, but literally 99% of them had NO shutters! Who-knew??!!! I was seriously giggly giddy! I had just never looked at my saved houses from that perspective. It was quite a revelation for me and a validation of "trust your gut!"
The front face after scraping and with the shutters removed.
The house with black shutters. Classic. I do think it looks really pretty with shutters, but something about it also seems a bit formal for this simple farmhouse. When we initially had the whole house painted 7 years ago HERE I remember not being able to get the shutters back on the house fast enough, but thinking about it now the house wasn't landscaped and I was coming from a metropolitan/suburban situation and that was the norm for my eye. After living here and seeing so many antique houses without shutters my aesthetic for the farmhouse has shifted. I have taken drive-by photos of antique houses that I love, but can't quite put my finger on what makes me so captivated by them. I would bet that if I went back to look at all of those houses they wouldn't have shutters! Don't get me wrong, I love shutters, but for now the house looks and "feels" exactly as it should to me.
I should also note after getting several comments on the shutters, that the shutters are antique and were original to the house (maybe not to 1853, but perhaps turn of the century?) The top of the shutters are stationary and the bottoms had movable louvers for air flow. They were initially operable to close over the windows, but when the storm windows were installed (prior to our owning the house) they were then attached directly to the house.
And, yes- the house will be remain white! As I mentioned in the beginning of this post we are only painting several sides of the house.
Here are some photos of my saved favorite farmhouses, all of which unbeknowst to me until today do not have shutters!