By Joseph Marsilla

California Shutter Style Difference?

Custom California shutters are window coverings made for the elite. Most shutter companies serving southern Ontario and the GTA have very little variation when it comes to specific california shutter style. Vinyl California shutters are almost all flat styled and show no variance when it comes to home decoration. Now for starters, vinyl shutters are ‘OK’. They get the job done in most cases. You call a company who prices you 25$ a square foot for a really good quality vinyl shutter product. The ones in the picture below are maXxmar vinyl shutters.

These maxxmar vinyl shutters are just 'OK'...

(The cheap ones like vinyl tech and other Chinese plastic based extrusion shutters are low quality and often cause more problems for those who buy them than benefits). They come to your home, install it leave and BAM! You have your new PVC shutters. That’s all good, but it’s not great. It doesn’t deliver you happiness. A flat looking vinyl shutter has a flat feel to it. A flat looking wood shutter carries the same feel with it. It carries a minimalist, boring, low-centered boxy attitude with it (if not matched with the correct trim).

Children know boxy when they see it!

When I first looked at a flat wood shutter in the window years ago as a young child, I couldn’t understand why people would put a box in their window. Now almost 15 years later I see myself asking the same questions. Digging into the psychological questions that affect people’s perception and depth, I began to learn about how different mouldings and designs make the human heart and mind jump. What I learned has reshaped my view about how 3D contours affect the foundations of my internal ‘design sense’, and it will reshape yours also.

Why California Shutter Style is Backed by Science

Journal Of Vision February 2016 Cover

In February 2016, a review article by Khuu, S et al. released in the Journal of Vision described how 3D contours, illumination and color in natural images affect human depth perception. You’re probably asking, what does this have to do with how I perceive California Shutters? Well, This article had two main conclusions that peaked my interest:

  1. The angle of a specific contour or moulding affects how it depth is detected. When items are displaced in depth or flattened, the human eye catches a discontinuity. (Hmm…)
  2. Human visual systems are sensitive to the depth profile and continuance of contours in 3D space. (Ahhh…)

These two conclusions are caused by a physiological phenomenon called binocular disparity . Basically, our left and right eyes see image location differently because of their horizontal separation. (Cool no?) The brain uses this effect to help us detect image depth when analyzing object contours. Therefore, when the continuance of a contour (from a trim or window frame to a shutter) is stopped, a discontinuity occurs. Then I saw it. When a flattened styled california shutter is added to a window with a beveled or partially beveled trim, we as humans detect an internal discontinuity. That would explain why I disliked the ‘boxiness’ of a flat shutter when I was a young child.

Which California Shutter Style fits best?

And I’m not the only one with this feeling.

Many of our happy customers who have one of our beveled california wood shutter collections in their windows, tell us how their rooms look bigger after our shutters are installed! I recently quoted a job in Scarborough. The man called us in to give him a quote on shutters for 4 of his windows. To my surprise he had vinyl shutters mounted to his french doors at the back of his home. Putting one of our M3 California Shutter Samples next to his trim near his vinyl shutters, I heard an “Ah…”, he exclaimed, “your shutter must be expensive because when I look at it I see a seamless picture. It makes the room look bigger, my vinyl shutters do the opposite”. I now know that science explains why his 3D depth perception was heightened by the decorative contours and mouldings present in our wood shutters!


If you’re in the market for California shutters of any kind make sure you go with a shutter style that complements your trim. Not only will you be happier, but buying a structurally sound, architecturally superior shutter will benefit you and your home in the long run.