Sunday, September 6, 2009

Is Less More?

It's time for the reason Mondays have become one of my favorite days of the week. Let's play "Metamorphosis Monday" with our hostess, Susan of Between Naps on the Porch.

I was feeling a little sad ... because I didn't have a "Met Monday" post for you. Then I remembered some pictures I had tucked away for a "rainy Monday." It's actually Sunday evening, and it IS raining.

Anyway, these are pictures of the facade of the house ... the house in which regular readers of Affordable Accoutrements have seen so many interior shots. When David, with whom I share this home, and I first bought the place, it appeared to be sinking behind overgrown shrubbery! The home inspection noted that the wood around the front windows was beginning to deteriorate due to moisture trapped behind the hollies that were pressing against the house.

Instead of just cutting them back, we decided to do away with them (a tough decision for David, because Master Gardeners are usually in the business of planting and nurturing, not destroying healthy shrubs). As I sawed them down with a chainsaw (the trunks were about 6+ inches in diameter) ... making those ape-like grunting noises Tim Allen used to on Home Improvement, I noticed that the shutters were crumbling at the bottom.

There had been an ongoing debate over shutters. I like them; he doesn't. Well, he hates vinyl shutters and can tolerate wooden ones if they're hinged and functional. I liked them, but agreed that the bright green was ... a bit much. He said they hid the old bricks and fought with the architectural elements. I felt they should stay, partly because the house in Natchez, Mississippi that had been the inspiration for this house had shutters. I suggested painting them a neutral olive or sage green.

At any rate, the rotting wood convinced me to see how it looked sans shutters. I grabbed a crowbar and started prying the nails out of the bricks. I think David was very surprised (as he returned from dragging fallen shrubbery to the street) to see the shutters coming down.

Here's how it looked (later that year) without the overgrown shrubbery and shutters. Don't worry ... the shutters were saved for future projects. I'll show you the result in a future post.

And after a late-winter snowfall ...

Yesterday ....

Here's the house that inspired the design, Wigwam Mansion in Natchez. It was begun in 1797, and re-designed in 1837 in the Italianate style. It was a bed-and-breakfast at one time. I wish it still were. I definitely want to tour the house the next time it's on the famed Natchez Pilgrimage (tour of historic homes).

So what do you think? Better before or after the shrubbery and shutters came down?


  1. Bill...that's so cool seeing the original house! I love the style of your home. I like it both ways. I love shutters...if you add some back, maybe you could paint them closer to the color of the original home. :-) Your home is beautiful either way!

  2. Bill,

    Removing the shrubbery and shutters made this house! What a great change!

  3. Your house is gorgeous, we removed the shutters from our house - so you know which look gets my vote.

  4. Welllllll, interesting both ways. I actually like the contrast of the green shutters with the red door (but then again I love punches of color)--to me it makes it homey and inviting.

    On the other hand, without the shutters you get to see more of the architectural detail...although I notice the shutters in the old old house look to be of a narrower type. I am wondering what that thing up high above the door is---is that a window up there?

  5. ps--I love the snow/ we don't get much here....boooo hooo

  6. Well, normally I love shutters, but I have to say it definitely improved the look to remove them as well as the hollies!! Great decision and great job!!!! It is a beautiful house. I don't think I've ever toured the Wigwam either, even though I grew up there. I need to go back and be a tourist some day!
    Enjoy your Labor Day!


  7. Oh, I think Less in this case really is More. I love it without the shutters and the shrubs look so much nicer. Beautiful home. It really does have wonderful curb appeal. Hugs, Marty

  8. I love it both ways, but the shutters were lovely, the house looked very cottage style, now it looks clean and fresh. either way you have a beautiful home....

  9. Beautiful house! I like it w/out the shutters. You'll have to post a pic of David soon ;)

  10. What a beautiful home. Thank you so much for sharing those pictures. It was amazing to see the difference. It was great to see the outside after all of those great inside shots. Clearly you enjoy your lovely home.
    - The Tablescaper

  11. Bill, I can't believe the difference it makes to just trim down some shrubs and take the shutters down!!! Amazing! This is a beautiful home either way but you have certainly taken good care of her.

  12. I really do love the NEW look without the shutters and the BIG bushes. I may be prejudiced because right now we are in the process of cutting WAY back or removing MANY bushes here at our home. I love the new cleaned up look! Your home (inside and out) is so lovely! I love coming over to "visit"!!!! Pinky

  13. Hi Bill,
    Well, I love shutters but in this case I love it without! I think if the shutters had been a different color I would have probaby loved it with! However, you have a gorgeous home, great curb appeal and I so enjoy seeing the pics! Cindy

  14. I totally agree with what you did. The house really didn't need shutter because of the architectural elements, and the shrubs were covering up the beautiful porch.


  15. What a wonderful job you did! It made an amazing difference. Now the beautiful lines of the house show.


  16. Like it without!! Either way, it is a beautiful piece of property.

  17. Oh it looks so nice now without the shutters. If you didn't have the pictures to compare I don't think you would notice as much, but the shutters did seem to cut off the flow of the brick. You have a lovely house and it is evident you take the effort to make it a home!

  18. Hi Bill!
    I loved the house when you first bought it, but I have to admit that with the shrubs gone and the shutters down it really opened the house up. You can really see the architechture and the house seems to say, welcome and please come in. I love all of the windows. They are just so airy. I really love the little arched windows on either side of your front door. They are just doll like. Your home is better than than the inspiration. Thanks for sharing Bill. Please tell David you both have done an outstanding job at making this house a HOME. Country hugs and love, Sherry

  19. What an amazing difference!! Beautiful!

  20. First, I love your house. I think for sure, it's better without the overgrown shrubbery. But I'm torn about the shutters. I like it both ways. I'm kind of a shutter lover. It looks more modern with out shutters.

  21. I like the house with or without the shutters, but I love it in the snow!!! Jackie.

  22. Bill,
    What a beautiful home! I have been using your photo tips with great results! Now you will have to teach us to do the signature!

  23. You did the right thing. Now you can see a house under there.

  24. Hi Bill,
    Loved seeing the outside of your home after drooling (yes, really) over your wonderful inside shots.
    For me the house looks so much better without both the shrubbery & the shutters.
    I do really like shutters, when appropriate, but your house has such classical lines it doesn't need them, IMHO.
    a bientot
    Maggie (going back for another look!)
    PS. have stolen your button for my blog

  25. Those were FUN photos! I do love shutters, but it really worked without them, I am surprised!

    I loved seeing the house in the snow!

  26. Beautiful!'s amazing what some sweat, elbow grease and "ape-like grunting" can do... (I love it!...sounds like my guys with a chain saw - ending with the >YEAH! and high fives.)
    It looks great. >that's the great thing about shutters, you can keep them up or take them down as the mood hits you any given year, no?
    Thanks for sharing. Your house is awesome.

  27. You have a beautiful home! We couldn't have imagined that it would not be so. I do love shutters - but I wasn't wild about the color of those in the first picture. Thanks for giving us a picture of where you create those awesome settings!

  28. Hello Bill~
    just popping in from My Enchanted Home.

    Wow, I think less is definitely more in this case. I'm a shutter lover but this gorgeous home really stands tall without them! What a gorgeous home! You two made the right choice.

    I shall have to come back and visit when I have more time!

  29. Oh my gosh, Bill!! I don't know what to say! Your home is gorgeous!!

  30. Hi Bill ~
    Less is definitely more! Your home is truly beautiful, even with the shutters and shrubs. But by removing them, the lines of your home truly stand alone. Thank you for sharing the seasonal photos of your home. That is one thing I do miss now that I am back in FL...seasons.

    Have a marvelous day!
    Jane (Artfully Graced)

  31. Bill, your home looks fabulous! I love the seasonal photos.


  32. Bill I love shutters but think I would have to side with David on this one. The pillars do the same job as shutters would but with both it is overkill.
    I read once that shutters are the eyebrows for windows. Think of how odd we would look without our eyebrows.
    Your house is gorgeous.

  33. Bill, I like the house without the shutters much better. With the brick being red, there is enough variety in the house to draw the eye to the windows without the shutters. To me, the shutters just providing a little too much visual clutter.
    I completely understand David's reticence, I hate having to pull out plants that are thriving but overgrown. I even hate pulling out plants that I hate, like anything that starts with jun and ends with iper!

  34. Woops, forgot my tag - Paula ~ Mise en scène

  35. What a beautiful home you have. I have to agree with that less is more.


  36. Much, much, much improved AFTER!!
    You did a beautiful job!
    Actually when the shutters were up, it was almost too much, all you saw was the green and it hid the beautiful brick. It's so elegant now, you did your house proud!
    And as for the landscaping, I can understand David, but I don't think it was dressing for the house, I think it was camouflaging it, hiding it's best features. 'Just my opinion.
    The winter scene is really beautiful, 'belongs in a magazine.
    Now, I've been so busy, I've missed so many posts! I have to go back and read.
    All the best,

  37. What a huge difference! Now you can see the bricks and the bricks are a big part of the charm of the home. Cutting back some of those plants also made the home more distinct and attractive! It's lovely. Bricks always give a feeling of strength and permanence.
    You must be so proud of your home! I certainly would be!!

  38. Stunning without!! Plus it totally changes the curb appeal-even though I happen to love shutters.
    The winter photo is my favorite. Thanks for sharing.
    I love your blog already by the way!!!

  39. Bill-Whodathunkit? I never would have dreamed removing the shutters could make such a positive difference. The removal of the shrubs makes a major difference too! What starts out as a good idea just takes over little by little before you know it. We just removed (GASP!) a magnolia tree--I know, I can't believe it myself) :), but I can't tell you how many people tell us how much better it looks. Happy Labor Day!

  40. Hi Bill,

    Your home is very beautiful.
    As I really like shutters, I do think though that your home seems to be better without them. The shutters seemed to hide some of the house and with a little of the vegetation gone, has opened it up more.
    Many thanks for showing us your lovely place.

    Enjoy your week

  41. I usually prefer shutters, however, I am amazed at how much prettier the house is without them. The vertical trim between the windows is a beautiful touch, and I definitely prefer the pruned shrubs - lovely! Linda

  42. Love it now, shrubbery scaled back and shutter off. Gorgeous home!

  43. Bill, What a beautiful home you all have made. I like what you have done, but if you wanted to put shutters back, I think the color should be more subdued.
    I am glad I found your blog, I really enjoy my visits here.


  44. Bill, I have to say I usually would defend shutters to the end but, Your house looks amazing without! The architechture really stands out now. Of course removing the bushes was a great decision also. Traci

  45. Hi Bill~ ~I love the style of your house and the arched windows beside the front door are beautiful. The dormers clustered in the center of the roof are very interesting. The center dormer facinates me with the door and side lights, what's behind there inside? Looks like it could be a cute nook. Love the house without the shutters. It's such a clean, opened look. Thanks for sharing.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  46. Hi Bill, as much as I love the green shutters they did compete with the beautiful columns framing the windows. It looks very nice without them. If the columns weren't there it would be a different story.

    So you think that green is bright? He, he, it appears to be the same as on my whole house! But I love rich color so it's okay, I know it's not everyone's thing!

  47. MUCH BETTER without shutters! Beautiful house!

  48. Bill, I like it both ways, but you can see the pillasters better without the shutters. I love the house. It's very handsome. Good job!


    Sheila :-)

  49. Hi Bill,

    I don't know if you'll even get this message as well, but every time I try to post a comment on your blog, the drop down menu tells me to select an account. When I do, it disappears. Anyway, you cannot go wrong with either looks. The current look is more stately. The first look with the shutters and shrub had a warmer appeal. I hope we get a chance to see your home decorated for the holidays. I know it will look spectacular.

  50. Bill,

    I happen to currently live in the original house, the Wigwam, in Natchez (have lived there since 1998! If you have not toured the Wigwam yet, we would love for you to come by and tour it, regardless of whether or not pilgrimage is going on.