Shutters 101: Everything You Need to Know

In just under a month, we’ll have been in our home for 7 years and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has gone, or that we’re still nowhere near being finished. Not that homes ever are but you know what I mean. Still though we’ve done so much, carefully, thoughtfully, when budgets have allowed and I feel so grateful every day that we have the home that we do.

One of our very first home improvements was changing the windows at the front of our home and then installing wooden shutters and since its now been more than 5 years I thought I’d share some thoughts on them half a decade on and hopefully cover everything you need to know. I popped a question box out on Instagram to see if anyone had any questions so will answer those too.

A little caveat before I go on – this is in all likelihood our forever home, or at least for the next 20 years. Would I install shutters on a home that I’m only planning on being in for the next 5 years? Probably not.

Here’s a breakdown of the shutters we have:

Where – across the front of our home. 7-sided bay window in our living room, the same window above it which is our second bedroom, although not quite as high as the living room window bay, and a smaller flat-fronted window which is our fourth bedroom turned into a home office.

Why These Rooms? – these are our street facing rooms and I AM that person that love how homes look from the outside. Having shutters on all of these windows creates uniformity and adds value, rather than say shutters in the living room, a blind on one window and curtains on another. You all know though, I’m a stickler for details. As it happens, at the back we haven’t really got a handle on window coverings yet. We have a blackout roller blind on our bedroom window that overlooks the garden because that’s what was there. We don’t have anything for our bathroom and en-suite windows which are frosted. We also don’t have anything for our dining room and kitchen windows because these will be changed at some point. That just leaves a spare bedroom window and because I want to maximise the view of the garden I’m tempted not to go for shutters but maybe a roman blind instead.

What – hardwood, full-height shutters with hidden tilt rod. 63mm Louvres (this refers to the height of the slats on the shutters which is variable – if you have a company come out to measure up the should bring samples of the different louvre heights)

Cost – £3,010 including VAT for all 3 windows (7 sided bay in the living room, 7 sided bay in the bedroom above it and little flat-front window of our office)

And here is everything I can share with you about shutters which will hopefully help you decide if it’s right for you!

Are they expensive? – there’s no getting away from it, shutters are not the cheapest option for window coverings. As I’ll go on to explain in the topics below though, there are ways you can have shutters more economically. For me, its absolutely been worth it – I had my heart set on shutters since forever and I know that no other window coverings would have even come close. The only other one I would have possibly considered would have been Roman blinds as I think they look quite smart from the outside too and that’s a massive consideration for me. And in terms of versatility I simply don’t think there is anything that offers as many options/combinations as shutters in terms of all the different configurations for being open and closed. Somebody asked the question why shutters over blinds and I’d say two main reasons – they are significantly more sturdy than any kind of blind owing to the frame that they’re fixed to and again, all the different options for opening and closing them which blinds don’t have.

Materials – typically shutters are available in either hardwood or MDF, although as its been now 6 years since ours were fitted, there may be other alternatives. Hardwood is more expensive obviously, but then it’s anticipated to have a longer shelf-life than MDF. As I mentioned above, ours are 6 years in and still looking absolutely new.

Style – the main two options for shutters are full-height which is the ones where we have where the entire window is covered, versus café style. Café style would normally cover anything from half a window to three-quarters. What you go for comes down to personal preference and in some cases some window styles work better with one style than other. For example, I think sash windows would look great with a half-height café style.

Whilst I think you can have shutters on modern homes and windows and I have seen it done well, I DO also think that shutters just naturally lend themselves to more period/older homes. They work particularly well with bay windows but like I say – it’s all a personal preference. I feel the same way about front doors – seeing a super sleek modern front door on a home from 1850 always makes me feel a bit itchy 😊

Fitting – we had our shutters professionally fitted from start to finish, so someone came out to our home to advise on style, took measurements and then came back to fit them so I’m afraid I can’t help at all with how to measure for shutters. We used a company called Bromley Blinds, but it now looks as though they don’t exist anymore sadly. It was fairly close to the start of our home renovations and we definitely didn’t have the confidence to do it ourselves. Would we now? Perhaps. There are plenty of DIY shutter companies out there whereby you take all the measurements, they make them, you fit them. I think for my peace of mind and because it’s something I’d always dreamed of I just wanted to know that the best possible job would be done. It goes without saying that doing your own shutters is considerably cheaper and I’m sure most companies now will have video guides as to how to go about measuring for them.

Colour – these days I think you can get shutters in just about any colour under the sun so they don’t necessarily need to be white. What you go for again is your own preference but ask to see samples of different colour options including the varying shades of white and you’ll know I think when you see them in person which colour you’d like.

Opening – I’ll be honest, we rarely open our shutters completely. Of course the slats are opened and closed daily, but the actual shutters themselves remain shut unless I’m cleaning them or the inside of the windows. Slats are controlled by something called a tilt rod which can be external or internal. You’ll have seen both styles – external means the tilt rod sits almost midway between each shutter and you control the slats by pulling or pushing it. If you opt for internal tilt rods which is what we have, it does bump up the cost but for me it’s just a more upmarket, stylish finish. I don’t know why but I’ve always found the rods are quite flimsy.

Can you access the windows? – This question seems to come up a lot and I think people misunderstand how shutters are fitted. A frame is fitted to the windows/built out on to the windowsill and the shutters are fitted to that frame, so each individual shutter can be opened and folded back on itself for you to access the windows, let cats in and out, open and close the windows. Think about it practically – if you couldn’t open each individual shutter, you wouldn’t be able to reach through the slats to open the windows and that would be a bit silly 😊 there is still plenty of windowsill space and likewise, I’ve seen shutters were there is no windowsill, so there’s definitely ways to accommodate that.

Manufacturing Time – our shutters took 12 weeks to be manufactured – this might seem like a long time but remember, patience is a good thing team and impatience is not what you want to be known for 😉 To be honest we needed that time – you pay a deposit and then we used the time of manufacture to save up the rest of the money we needed to pay off the balance. These days lead times may be shorter but it definitely shouldn’t take more than 12 weeks.

Do they block out a lot of light? – personally I don’t think they do. That said, we have large windows and bright, fairly decent sized rooms. However, our little box room fourth bedroom is very small and even here the shutters don’t take any excess light away, we’ve also painted the room dark. My only caveat to that is that the shutters have been mapped to exactly where the joins are on the window panes which I would definitely recommend for both aesthetic reasons and to avoid blocking light unnecessarily.

In terms of night-time and could they be used in bedroom setting – again I think that’s a little bit subjective. We have a street light right outside the house which means that no matter what, nothing would ever be truly dark. I think for most people, in most settings, they would be absolutely fine at night-time unless you’re particularly sensitive to light and need to sleep in a very dark environment (this is me!)

Insulation – in terms of both noise and warmth, shutters do a great job of providing that extra layer. We don’t live on a busy road and we do have double-glazing after replacing our windows prior to having the shutters fitted but the shutters do block out that extra bit of noise at night-time. I know for some people it has to be curtains in terms of cosiness which I totally appreciate but again, shutters do make a room nice and warm when closed so you definitely don’t lose any heat through them.

Cleaning – have I saved the biggest amount of questions for last? Possibly! I really don’t think shutters are a hassle to clean. You’re either a cleaning fanatic, so you’ll clean regularly and it won’t take long maybe half an hour per week per window. Or, you’re a very laid back cleaner like me and in which case will only clean your shutters twice a year. Or more like once. We have a fire. We have a dog and a cat, there is a constant level of silt-like dust over everything. You can clean them with a spray and a damp sponge. You can vacuum them with the brush attachment. You can clean with a feather duster. You can spray them with polish and use a regular duster. Honestly? You’ll clean them as regularly or as little as you want to and it won’t make the slightest difference. Would you take curtains down twice a year to go to the dry cleaners? I don’t think many people do to be honest, and they collect absolutely the same amount of dust. So please don’t be put off by the thought of cleaning them because if you love the idea of shutters then go for it and you’ll find a method and way that works for you.

I can honestly say that I’m so, so happy we decided to have shutters installed at home and delighted that a decent amount of time has passed since installation and they still look so smart. I have no regrets and wouldn’t change anything about the style, colour etc so yes, whilst there’s no escaping the cost factor, I’d argue if you’re going to be in your home long-term then it’s always worth it.

I really hope this has been useful, I think I’m going to follow up in maybe a week or so over on Instagram with an IGTV to show some close-ups of what our shutters actually look like, how they work and so on because it’s always quite hard to try and explain things like in writing. Please do let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions and I’ll see what I can do to help!

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  1. Geraldine
    January 28, 2021 / 8:13 am

    Thanks for a lovely article. The bit about how they open was particularly useful! I had assumed you had to fold them back from the centre as with external shutters in France. Tempted now to get them for the front of our house.

    • Lins
      January 28, 2021 / 8:49 am

      Ahh I’m glad Geraldine! Yes they’re so flexible and if you have a company fit them for you they’ll basically discuss (or should) the best options for opening them that makes sense for your set up x

  2. Samantha
    February 4, 2021 / 4:02 pm

    Thanks Linda, I have just ordered Shutters for my front bay and am so excited to get them, although I am told about 14 weeks, but I know it will be worth it. I was unsure for my bedroom also front of house but I think I will eventually get shutters for this room also. Good to know they keep the warm in and luckily I don’t mind a little light getting through.

    • Lins
      February 4, 2021 / 8:36 pm

      Ahh you’ll love them so much!! Enjoy x

  3. Asha
    July 14, 2021 / 5:12 pm

    Thanks so much for the inspiration and information.
    What would you advise for windows that have a lead design through them?
    Is it too much going on to then have shutters over the top of them?
    Thanks again

    • Lins
      July 15, 2021 / 2:52 pm

      Hi Asha, it’s really personal preference, if you’re happy to have the shutters with the leaded windows that’s totally fine 🙂 It will affect the light in your home as leaded windows do make things darker (we’ve been working on replacing ours and it is much lighter without them) but you absolutely can have both

  4. Tracey
    September 13, 2021 / 3:46 pm

    Thank you so much for this.
    We have just signed up for new windows for the front of the house and I have always wanted shutters, so very timely.

    Yours look amazing!

    Just got to find a local company to measure and fit them now 🙂

    • Lins
      September 15, 2021 / 8:40 pm

      Ahh good luck Tracey I hope it all goes well!

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