Embrasured Shutters

Shutters that Fold into Pockets

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Embrasured shutters fold into pockets built into the window jamb. This is a clever architectural detail used in the18th and 19th Centuries, which is not seen at all in today's architecture. The brick homes of this period necessarily required a wall of exceptional thickness since the walls were solid brick rather than brick veneer. This wall dimension often exceeded 12 to 14 inches and provided a deep window jamb, which served to conveniently store the shutters when they were hinged in open position. The jambs were actually built with a pocket (embrasure) to receive the shutters and thus to appear almost undetectable at first glance. At night the shutters would fold across the window for privacy and insulation from the elements.

The embrasured shutters of this period were generally of two designs. Raised Panel as shown above or raised panel flanks combined with operable louver inner panels, commonly referred to as "Brownstone" shutters. The combination of the two shutter types allowed for light availability from the operable louvers when the shutters are hinged across the window but the elegance of the raised panel on the sides. The shutters were commonly installed double hung or in two sets, one set for the top sash and one set for the bottom sash. This of course allows the top shutters to hinge open while the lower half remains closed across the window. Alternatively, the shutters may be installed single hung as in the photo above. This is to say a single set of shutters consisting of 4 panels extending the full height of the window. Often the shutters are sub-divided such that there are multiple raised panels within each shutter.

This classic example of Georgian Architecture shows Embrasured Raised Panel Shutters installed within a square pocket. The thickness of the wall is apparent judging from the depth of the window jamb. These shutters are folded into the jambs but at night they will be hinged across the window providing privacy and protection or insulation from the elements.

You may see Embrasured Raised Panel Shutters in The Capital in Williamsburg, Virginia and at Thomas Jeffersonís Monticello as well as Boscobel on the Hudson and the Millís Mansion in New York.

The jamb embrasures above are splayed or angled outwards. This is to accommodate windows whose shutters are wider that the depth of the window jamb. The angled jamb will serve to conceal the greater width shutter of this wider window. For example, if the thickness of the wall is 12 inches and the window is 52 inches in width, the individual shutter panels will be 13 inches in width. The architect may design splayed jambs to allow the 13-inch wide shutter to fold into the embrasures of a 12-inch deep window jamb.

In many cases for windows of ordinary widths, the jambs are constructed to be square or perpendicular to the window. For example a 36-inch wide window will have 9-inch shutters, which will fold nicely into a 12-inch deep jamb that is constructed square.

This window detail can be adapted to new homes built in the style of old Virginia by utilizing the depth of built-in bookcases or cabinetry as the jamb for embrasures.

At DeVenco we can work with your architect or cabinetmaker to design window jambs integrated with the cabinetry to provide shutter embrasures in your new home.

Click to enlarge.

Solid Cherry Pocket Shutters
single hung: window size 32" X 60"

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Embrasured Shutters or Pocket Shutters are common in Virginia and northward through New England. This unique and clever carpentry allows for the shutters to fold into a pocket built in the window casing. Typically one finds that pocket shutters are comprised of Raised Panel flanks and Operable Louver inner panels.

These shutters shown at left are single hung but can also be installed as double hung which refers to a seperate hingable top half allowing the bottom half to remain closed while the top half is open.

In the open position the shutters seem to disappear, when closed the shutters appear little different from any shuttered window. Traditionally embrasured shutters are found on masonry buildings with 12 inch thick walls. In today's architecture this deep jamb can be achieved with cabinetry or book shelves on either side of the window.

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Mouse-Over for Effect. Notice how pocket shutters can completely open the windows to light, Unlike curtains or blinds that will often block much light.

Observe how the shutters fold over the raised panels and tuck neatly into the jamb.

Click here for a printer-friendly measuring notes page
A more detailed discussion on How to Install Pocket Shutters

Customer Contributions

This is a series of photos of pocket shutters
we fabricated for a single house.

Brownstone pocket shutters stained dark walnut

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