Friday, 29 August 2014

Shutters - so Mediterranean!

 Shutters – so Mediterranean!

Shutters, so Mediterranean!

I’m writing this blog about something that is unique about a Mediterranean house and that is its shutters. But it is not just the look that is unique about this it is the daily routine of opening and closing shutters (and upkeeping them) that makes living in the Mediterranean distinctive.

They add interest to these plain square boxes of houses

The shutters from the inside, closed to keep out the sun

Lace curtain soften the hard outline of shutters and window

When we first came to the house in 203 the place was dark and shuttered. We cautiously ascended the stairs, and in order to better see what we were doing Takis opened the shutters in a couple of the rooms. Now we had enough light to make out the litter in each room: old furniture, battered pictures and broken ornaments. On the top floor we carefully we walked towards the shuttered double doors that led out onto the balcony above the front door. These doors had an extra seal, so that no one would inadvertently exit onto that precarious ledge. However Takis managed to open one, and immediately, there before us lay an enchanting view. Then in 204 when we really began work on the place,  Lisa, Takis daughter was with us for the first week or two, and the two of us went from room to room opening up a few shutters here and there before we began the work of clearing out the accumulated litter of past holiday makers. And, as we opened up one set of shutters a neighbour outside yelled up a warning at us, as he could see that the shutters were hanging by only one hinge and were in danger of falling down into the street below.
Having bought the house we found ourselves with a big house with many windows and many shutter. I once counted the windows, and as we slowly renewed frames, panes and shutters, and over the years, the number always left to renovate was one of the main items on our yet-to-do list. However, they are all now done, and we have even got to the stage, after ten years, of needing to repaint and re-repair some of them.

From the outside the shutters are one of the most distinguishing features of the house. We are proud of them. The first thing that many of our neighbours know about our arrival is that the shutters are open. They will greet us and say, ‘I saw that you’re here I noticed the opened shutters yesterday’. But that is not what this blog is about it’s about the process of living with shutters, and the fact that the shutters are one of the most important features of living inside the house.

Shutters require attention, to half-open, open fully or close, at least twice a day in summer - the rest of the year not as often. You use them to modify and equalise, the temperature inside all depending on the weather outside the house. To help in this delicate task we have indoor-outdoor temperature gages.

out-in temperature gage

another temperature gage - we have three!

Well, we also have these gages to help modify the arguments Takis and I have about the temperature. He always judges it to be cooler than it is, so 32 becomes 29 degrees in his mind, whereas 32 becomes 35 degrees in mine!

Not discussions about the wine, no, about the temperature today!

What happens is that each morning, sometime between seven and ten, depending on the weather (windy, cool at night, very hot in the morning) I go around and close, or half-close windows and shutters. And at night, sometime between sunset and when we go to bed, again depending on the weather (windy, cooler or hotter in the evening) I go around and open or half-open windows and shutters.

Some windows face north, and we leave these open nearly all the time in summer

There five of the windows on the top floor that gets this treatment and four on the middle or bottom floor.

Shutters half closed

Shutters opened and pinned back
Shutters back and window opened

We do have two air-conditioners in two bedrooms, but in this manner we keep the house as ecologically friendly as we can. And we are helped by the fact that Takis has put double glazed windows throughout the house. Fans come in useful too, and if we are in a room we will switch one on to give us that pleasurable feeling of transpiration convincing ourselves it has become a bit cooler.

Almost sleeping beauty's castle, when the creepers take over!

Post scripts:

1.      When the wind arises in the night the crashes and bangs mean you have to get up, and put cushions and chairs by doors and hold back those windows and shutters that you did not secure.

2.      I’ve just recounted the windows and shutters.

Top floor, nine windows and two sets of glass doors onto the balcony – all shuttered.

Middle floor, ten windows, and one glass door leading onto a balcony – one window unshuttered

Ground floor, six windows, and glass door onto terrace, only two shuttered.

Glass doorway to a balcony, with shutters pinned back

Glass doorway to another balcony, shutters pinned back

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