There's nothing new under the sun. Take shutters, for example.

Shutters have been in use since the time of the early Greeks. Before the advent of glass, there was no way to keep intruders out of the home, except to have shutters over the windows. Or wind or rain or other inclement weather, for that matter. Glass was not used for windows until medieval times, and was so expensive that it was generally put into the top floors of houses, not on the bottom floors where they could be more easily broken.

When the Europeans came to America and began to build their homes, they brought the concept of the shutter with them. By this time glass was not expensive but it was still easy to break, and of course for security reasons having shutters just made sense.

The shutter evolved for each geographical area in which it was put in use. For example coastal locations which were subject to hurricane winds would need a much stronger shutter, made out of much stronger material, than that used in homes facing the relatively placid weather of the midwest.

The Plantation shutter evolved to suit the needs of the huge mansions of the South. The Colonial shutter has narrow louvers, whereas the Plantation shutter has very wide louvers, from two to three inches in width.

The Colonial shutter evolved on the east coast of the United States where weather is more inclement, with a cold wind always blowing during winter time.

Wealthy Southerners, overseeing their plantations of cotton or tobacco, built homes to show off their opulence, as well as to house the many members of their family. The signature elements of a plantation home are Greek pillars, balconies, formal ballrooms, covered porches, and imposing staircases (made most famous by the film Gone With the Wind, starring Vivien Leigh), and those shutters with wide louvers.

With no constant cold wind blowing to concern themselves with, the inhabitants of the South began using wider louvers which allowed more sunlight and air into t he home during the summer months when the heat of the day could be very oppressive .

These days, the choice between Colonial or Plantation shutters depends on your own personal taste. When you're dusting louvers, is it quicker to dust several narrow ones or only a few wide ones? Do you want a lot of sunlight streaming into your home or not quite so much? And of course do you like the simple elegance of narrow louvers or the solidness of the wider.

Shutters are made from vinyl, PVC, or wood. One of the knocks on vinyl shutters is that they don't have the grain and elegance of the wooden shutter, but determined inventors have been working on that project for decades. You don't want to use wooden shutters in areas of high humidity, as they will warp or crack. However, vinyl can not be shaped as easily as wood for specialty designs.