Nearly all the shutters on the market are now internal. External shutters, such as these which hinge to cover the windows, are largely bespoke items that have to be made by a joiner.
Sky TV Cricket correspondent Charles Colville had had enough. After a spate of burglaries at his home in Surrey he installed a burglar alarm and shutters in the rooms he felt to be the most vulnerable. There have been no further break-ins since.
“The shutters were sold to me not as a security product but as something a bit different from curtains or roller blinds they are certainly offputting to an opportunist burglar,” he says. “The ones I have at present are all the solid folding variety but I intend to have some louvred ones in the bathroom.”
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In the early 21st century, shutters are in vogue again less for their ability to discourage burglars than because they make a change from the ubiquitous curtains found in the majority of British homes. The fashion has been heavily influenced by the southern states of America where they are used as a means of controlling the amount of heat from the sun.
In the UK today they are regarded by many as more fashionable than practical. But there is no doubt that they have some advantages over curtains. With louvred shutters you can tilt them at an angle and effectively filter light as well as block it out. Shutters may not insulate as well as thick curtains but, over a long period of time, they can prove more cost-effective if they are the painted variety you can respray if you decide to change the colour scheme of the room.
“They are good for privacy and add a certain style to the room, whether stained, painted or with the wood left in its natural state,” says James Fletcher of Draks Shutters of Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire.
Draks supplied louvred shutters to interior designer Katie Ayers in her converted barn in an Oxfordshire village. “They were the best solution in situations where curtains just would not have worked,” she says. “They are stained to match the colour schemes. They fit very well into the deep window reveals in our thick walled property.”
Shutters are also ideal in bathrooms because they ensure privacy when drawn but if louvred do not lose light.
“There is rarely a problem with installing shutters in new homes,” James says. “Usually it is a case of the shutters folding either inside the window reveal or flush on the internal wall.”
Nevertheless, if you are thinking of incorporating shutters in your new self-build it is obviously a good idea to try to design them into the building for best results.
Nearly all the shutters being advertised nowadays are internal shutters. External shutters, which hinge to cover the windows, are bespoke items that have to be made by a joiner. There are, however, moulded external shutters available in standard sizes, made from composite material.
Internal shutters look especially splendid in large Victorian or Edwardian rooms with tall sash windows, possibly recessed in bays, explains Sam Dunster of Open n Shut Shutters of Chichester, West Sussex, who supplied the shutters to Charles Colville.
A taller window lends itself to a double row of panels, allowing each set to open independently. Then, when you are overlooked on the bottom half but not the top, you can keep the top set open in daytime to bring in the light.
Despite this, most people in normal sized homes opt for louvred shutters. They are almost always louvred horizontally and generally operate by means of a fingertip controlled vertical tilt bar.
If you have a yen for the character of solid reclaimed pine shutters, there is a small company called Ark, based in London, that specialises in them. “We have a large stock in all sizes,” says proprietor Danny Slattery. “Basically we rescue them from old houses about to be demolished in the London area. Stripped and refitted they can look wonderful, though personally I prefer them painted, which is how they were meant to be originally.”
Danny charges 50 a foot width for shutters. Except for very long shutters they are the same price for any depth. A window would, therefore, cost £200. A comparative price for a 4ft2 window for a basic design (unfitted) in a new shutter from Draks louvre or solid is £280 including VAT.
If you want really deep shutters in your new self-build, you will need either a wall considerably deeper than the normal 2,600mm cavity wall or to find some means of creating extra depth in the wall around the windows where the shutters are to be installed. You can achieve this by surrounding the window with a fitted bookcase so the shutters can be folded against the sides of this. If you were to do this in the two tall front room windows of your Georgian style house, you could then accommodate solid large country house style shutters. Wow!
*All prices quoted are correct at time of publishing