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Flea market and antique mall sellers frequently offer fabulous old shutters sporting their original chippy paint. You'll find singles, matching pairs, and multiples that came from the same structure. Other sources for old shutters include architectural salvage shops and the occasional yard sale. Sometimes you can even find shutters free on the curb when homeowners in old neighborhoods do exterior remodels.

Wherever you find them, load them up. You can repurpose those old shutters as home decor to give your home a charming, vintage touch.

Wall Art

Old shutters sporting their original painted or stained finishes are decorative enough to hang as artwork, especially if you favor a vintage look. Hang a single shutter, a collection of numerous shutters in different styles and sizes, or incorporate shutters into an art grouping.

Mirror Shutters

Add presence to a plain wall-mounted mirror -- or to an old wooden window you've hung inside as wall art -- by flanking it with a pair of vintage shutters. Any shutter style, flat, plank, or louvered, works as long as the style and finish complement the mirror's frame. Make sure the combined width of the two shutters is roughly the same as the mirror's width; you want them to look as though they could actually close.

Window Treatment

Working shutters -- as opposed to the skinny stationary versions some people use on exterior windows -- aren't just for the outside of a home.

If you find a pair that equals your window width, consider turning them into a window treatment. Hinge the shutters to the window frame. They look charming open during the day, and you can close them for privacy at night. A single shutter that fits a narrow window also works.

Faux Window

If you love the idea of using working shutters as a window treatment but can't find a pair that fits, you can make a fake window that fits your shutters instead of the other way around. You can make one using a simple open box mounted on the wall, or go all out and frame your box with the same molding that frames the rest of your windows. Either way, paint or stain your fake window frame to match the rest of your windows, and make sure it equals the combined height and width of your shutters. Hinge your shutters to the fake window frame, and then place them in the closed position.

If you're using louvered shutters that admit light when closed, consider installing light strips behind the shutters for the most realistic look. You can turn the lights on during the day to create the illusion of sunlight streaming through the louvered slats, and then turn them off at night.

Wall Covering

For a dramatic look with a vintage feel, you can cover an entire wall with shutters. Think of the shutters as wall paneling, or as three-dimensional wallpaper. Collect shutters in a variety of sizes, shapes and finishes, and then fit them together like puzzle pieces. Once you've settled on an arrangement, screw the shutters to the wall -- or to a wooden grid attached to the wall studs. If you live in an area prone to earthquakes, opt for the latter.

Interior Doors

If you find a pair of shutters that fit the inside width of a door frame -- or if you can cut them down to fit -- you can hinge and hang them to look like saloon doors. If you prefer full-length doors, look for a pair of tall, narrow shutters once used for French windows or exterior doors. Fastening two or more short shutters together to create each door is also an option. If you still can't find the right size, you can get a full-length shutter door look using two of the individual panels used for bi-fold doors.

For more on recycling and repurposing old shutters:
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