With a French house you have to remember that the windows open inwards, so you can’t put bedsteads or bedside tables with lamps on them under a window if you’re short of space in a small room. And shutters (volets) open outwards from the inside so you always need space on the outside wall for them to be folded back. At the moment our shutters are a pale powder blue which is a very traditional look. I really like the colour but as we are in the process of extending, we will need to add new shutters and I suspect it may be difficult to match this lovely sun bleached pale blue colour.
This colour blue has an interesting history to it. In fact the pale blue dye comes from a flower called Isatis Tinctoria. Sometimes know as Glastum or dyer’s woad.
Woad is an ancient color. An historic natural dye. The blue dye is contained within the green leaves, which when broken down reveal pigments of blue. A range of blues, dependant on the method, the plant and the soil. I have read that the colour echoes the blues of the sky. The word “Woad” is of Anglo-Saxon origin: wad. The use of dyer’s woad dates back to Egyptian times. In 17th-century France, woad pastel came to mean the plant, the pigment, the dye, and also the blue drawing sticks, that were made through a complicated process of pulping, fermenting, drying and crushing.
It was this pastel blue that made Toulouse wealthy. Trade in pastel enabled the merchants of Toulouse to become very rich. The mansion of pastellier Pierre d’Assézat,
a merchant who made a fortune in the woad business houses the Fondation Bemberg private art collection. It is open to the public and includes many French artworks from the nineteenth and twentieth Centuries.
If you want to find out more about this historic dye you can visit France and partake in one of the dyeing workshops, for example, there is one I found in the South West of France at Chateau Dumas. There you can learn the history of woad, dye fabrics and stay in fabulous surroundings.
So, what is the best colour for shutters? This question made me look at the colours of the shutters in our village. Some are stained wood or even unstained wood. We have some bright green, red and even purple coloured ones as well as the more traditional pale grey and pale blue.
Some of the shutters in our village.
Another question is do shutters have to be a specific colour dependent on the area of France that you are in. I do have a French acquaintance who renovated a chateau and was required to use a burgundy red colour for her shutters. However, I cannot find any real details on this question other than they should be in keeping with the rest of the building and similar properties in your region. It seems to be when in doubt consult your Mairie.
I am still undecided but really fancy going for a pale creamy grey green colour. Just trying to cover all bases. Of course this will be very similar in colour to the crepis but still look very stylish.
What do you think?????