How to turn a window shutter into a letter holder

Years ago I had the luck to rent a unique garret apartment offering instant patina. Handed down from art student to art student for several years, it was fitted out with antique discards from neighborhood buildings which were being modernized or torn down. In this post, I’ll explain how to turn a window shutter into a letter holder.

The bathroom contained a slightly chipped claw foot bathtub. Porcelain sink faucet knobs mounted on a weathered board became “hooks” for towels and bathrobes. The previous owner also left me a pile of handmade, slightly irregular red bricks which I used to construct bookcases and tables.

I enjoyed knowing that these carefully made pieces could find a new use in my life. I read books to learn how people lived when these pieces were originally used. These artifacts gave my spare apartment character and history. With the help of flea markets and building makeovers in my area, I’ve managed to incorporate a few old building details into all the places I’ve lived since then.

If you’ve wanted to buy old doorknobs, heat registers, iron rails, window guards and other bygone details — but didn’t know what you’d do with them — check out the wonderful book, Salvage Style before passing them up again. It contains 45 step-by-step projects that transform salvaged items into new and different objects.

The authors say, “The skills needed for most of the projects are minimal, though experienced craftspeople will also find many interesting and challenging projects. And, even if you don’t want to pick up a hammer, the projects can help inspire you to find the perfect look for your home.”

I received a small letter holder for a gift, but it is too small to accommodate all of the slots I need (incoming bills, business, personal, outgoing letters). So, I was thrilled to find the easy solution in this book–turning a window shutter into a letter holder. It’s a quick fix to an ongoing problem and I hope it will add to your life, too.

This is a quick and easy project. If you are lucky enough to find a shutter with an aged (and attractive) paint finish, it is a simple matter of attaching a backing to prevent those pesky bills from disappearing. If your shutter lacks an interesting paint finish, it is easy to achieve one with thinned acrylic paint and a brush.

Terry Taylor recommends, “When you are shopping for your shutter, look around the shop for interesting hardware. The red hooks on this shutter were a serendipitous find that dictated the color that the shutter was painted.


  • Shutter
  • Scrap of 1/4-inch plywood
  • Nails or wood screws
  • Heavy-duty picture hanging hardware
  • Hooks (optional)
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Acrylic medium (optional) — used to thin the acrylic paint
  • Container for the paint mixture (optional)


  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Pencil
  • Handsaw
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper or sanding sponge


  1. Measure the inside dimensions of the shutter: the width and height of the slatted part of the shutter, plus 1 inch added to the height.
  2. Measure, mark and cut a piece of 1/4-inch plywood to the dimensions in step 1.
  3. Attach the plywood to the back of the shutter with nails or wood screws or good glue.
  4. Attach the picture hanging hardware to the plywood.
  5. Attach any hardware to the front of the shutter.
  6. If your shutter is drab, you can make it more interesting quickly and easily. Simply mix equal amounts of acrylic color and medium in a container.
  7. Add water sparingly to the mixture to create a wash.
  8. Paint the shutter with the mixture.
  9. Use sandpaper or a sanding sponge to distress the color wash and allow the undercoat to peek out. A light touch is recommended. Allow just as much of the undercoating to appear as you want.
Close Menu