Shutters: a window dressing favourite

If ever there was a perfect example of an architectural or interior feature that has enjoyed cyclical popularity then wooden window shutters must be it. Once a practical and often built-in feature, the simple interior wooden shutter was used to keep light, cold, heat and prying eyes out of (mostly) the front rooms in a home.

Also providing added security, these secured shutters could be opened like most modern blinds to provide discrete light, or opened right up to let the sun flood into a room.


Image source: Spencer Means (in vacanza) via Flickr

Sometimes known as plantation or storm shutters, these window coverings found themselves being sacrificed to curtains and later venetian blinds. Some forward-thinking salvage dealers saved many window-length or full-length shutters from skips and are now able to offer originals for sale that may just fit your bay windows perfectly. They are certainly making a comeback and have become something of a status symbol in recent years.

If you’re lucky enough to find a set of shutters at a salvage yard or antique supplier then you should use an experienced wooden shutter craftsman to install them and carry out any repairs that they may need. Wooden shutters work like a beautiful piece of vintage engineering when they are well installed and maintained. But they won’t work so well or look so good if installed by someone who doesn’t understand how they operate or where the stresses and strains will be on either the shutters themselves or on the wall or window frame that holds them.

old house with shutters

Image source: Neosnaps via Flickr

A good wooden shutter craftsman or joiner may also be able to help you source shutters and blinds in the first place, which may be a better way round to do things. They will be in touch with and know most dealers in antique shutters and will also know where to get parts for any blinds that need repair. They will also, of course, be able to repair shutters for anyone who already has wooden blinds installed that are in need of a little TLC.

Original blinds can be 100-years-old and they will have seen a fair few slams and the odd splintered louvre in their time. The louvres can become stiff or stuck, the housings for them can expand and make the slats loose and the opening and closing mechanism may become hard to operate.

greeny blue shutters

That said, most of the damage will happen at the hinges, as these carry a lot of weight and force, especially when the blinds are hanging open or being opened. These may well need to be reinforced or replaced, or new screw holes may need to be made where they attach to the shutters. It’s essential that a skilled craftsman does this job, as further damage will ensue if the job is done incorrectly and these original shutters are expensive to replace.

If you would like a cheaper option or don’t want to deal with older shutters that may need maintenance then you can find new wooden shutters available in shops and online. The quality of the wood and the build varies greatly, but you can get these shutters from under £100 per window.

Of course it will be best to have a professional hang these, but many companies offer a complete service that comes with installation anyway. If you don’t know what you want or are confused by the array of styles and prices on offer then do get in touch with a tradesperson who offers window shutter installation as they will be willing to help you out and possibly purchase and install the items for you. They can also advise you on external window shutters, which are less popular but nonetheless still a feature of some period properties.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. I appreciate your information on window shutters here. I like the sound of storm shutters. Considering buying some roller shutters. My wife and myself have been talking a lot about that.

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