Guide to choosing shutters
Whether you’re building new, renovating or simply refreshing your home, shutters are a great option that can suit many spaces and add value to your home. They boast a range of features such as privacy, safety and security, insulation and heat deflection, air flow, light control and easy maintenance.
Available in a range of materials and finishes, they can be installed inside and outside your home, on windows and glass doors.
Keep reading for all you need to know about choosing shutters.
The benefits of shutters?
Shutters are a classic piece of design that add another dimension to the lines and shapes of a room. They look stunning and create a timeless focal point.
Invaluable light control
The two-way tilt of the blades of a shutter makes them adept at blocking light and providing ultimate privacy.
Help reduce heat gain and loss
In summer they help to deflect heat away. In winter, their snug position against the window lends them insulating properties.
Easy to clean
With no strings, ties or complex mechanisms in the way, shutters are the easiest window covering to clean; just run a damp cloth across them.
Built to last
In comparison to curtains and blinds that can age over time, shutters are designed to last for many years in the right conditions.
Shutters or blinds?
It’s easy to draw some comparisons between shutters and blinds even though they are two very different products with functional differences. We asked our experts for a list of pros and cons for each to help you decide.
Material options for shutters
Perfect for any room, PVC shutters are extruded from high-quality PVC and assembled with aluminium inserts to ensure strength and stability. Unaffected by moisture and humidity, they’re a great option for spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, allowing you to control light, airflow and privacy with ease.
Outside of the kitchen or bathroom, PVC shutters are safe in high-temperature climates or rooms that receive greater exposure to the sun. They can also be used to create room dividers in your home, providing a level of sophistication and style as well as thermal and acoustic insulation.
Our PVC shutters are VOC free and easy to clean with a damp cloth, making them a safe option for your entire family.
Aluminium shutters are suitable for both internal and external applications, perfect for anywhere from patios to living rooms. Durable and maintenance-free, aluminium shutters can also be manufactured to withstand the toughest of environmental conditions, with cyclone-rated materials available.
Best suited for outdoor applications, aluminium shutters can also be used to great effect in bathrooms and living spaces, depending on the style of your home.
All our aluminium shutters are finished with a high-quality powdercoat.
Wooden shutters bring a level of luxury and warmth that can only be achieved with a natural material. Crafted with care from authentic, high-quality Basswood (Tilia), all our wooden shutters are sustainably sourced from premium grade plantations and offer effective insulation in both summer and winter.
Lending themselves to living rooms and bedrooms, wooden shutters can be framed to your exact specification.
Different types of shutters
Slatted or solid panels
Shutters with solid panels have no blades/slats (has a ‘traditional’ door-like look) and close to block light and be and insulating barrier. Slatted shutters have louvred blades (similar to venetian blinds) you can tilt to let in varying amounts of light while keeping your privacy.
The following styles of shutters can be slatted or solid or a mixture of both in some cases.
Covers the glass in full. This is the most common and popular style of shutters. For extra variation in light control you can add a mid-rail divider which then means you can adjust the top or bottom sets of blades independently from the other half.
Leaves the top of the window un-shuttered, with shutters only covering the bottom half of the frame. Ideal for ground level windows and town houses.
Tier on tier
A very flexible option; independent panels on the top and bottom give greater adjustability to make the most of light, the view or to provide more privacy. You can open some and leave others closed, as well as the light control mentioned with full height shutters. Consideration should be given to which windows you apply this style too as the top shutters may become too heavy to support themselves on very large windows; in this scenario you would be better to have full height with a mid-rail divider.
Shutters can also be custom-made to fit unusual shaped windows.
How shutters operate
The beauty of shutters is that you can leave them as is and tilt the blades to block or let in light, or you can open them right up and expose the view in full. Depending on your requirements and the amount of space on either side of the shuttered window, they can be fixed in place or operated through a number of configurations:
Hinged at the window frame, shutters can be opened out and away from the window. As the open panels are only supported by this one set of hinges this option is best for small to medium windows.
Panels are installed on tracks to slide across the face of an opening. They can slide as one large panel or as bi-pass sliding panels that stack over top of each other. This option allows you to cover wide widths; a great option for sliding doors.
There are two bi-fold styles, depending on the size of the window. Simple hinged bi-fold shutters that open and fold at the window frame as well as at a 90° angle in the centre of the shutters. This is best for small to medium sized windows. For larger windows you can have the same but with the extra guidance and stability of having the shutters on a track so they can be slid across the window while folded.
Shutters can be designed to separate your windows in two - allowing you to have one open and one closed. Depending on where the sun is coming through and how much light you want coming in you can have half the shutter open, the other half closed. As the sun moves during the day you can adjust your shutters to suit.
Interior vs exterior shutters
Interior shutters are also chosen for the style they bring but are super practical window furnishings giving the ability to control light and privacy, airflow and also offering insulating properties. They are easily accessible and easy to operate, easy to maintain and of course, offer all the benefits already covered on this page.
Exterior shutters are great if you live in an area with severe weather, acting as a shield against the elements and also defecting heat in summer. They also stop nosy neighbours peeking in and add a layer of security. But they are mainly chosen for their exceptional aesthetic appeal. Exterior shutters don’t offer the same practicality of interior shutters in terms of light control and airflow as they often have to be opened or adjusted from the outside. For this reason, it’s worth considering how much ‘fuss’ and frequency you’re prepared to give to using your exterior shutters to their fullest. It may be better to go with a fixed option.
Choosing a blade size
Also knows as slats or louvres, these are the movable pieces that run horizontally across the shutters. When having them custom made, among your choices will be whether you want to be able to move them individually, altogether or in sections. Blades are controlled by either a rod, by hand or sometimes remote control.
Another choice you have with shutters is how large or small the blades are. The reason blade size matters can be grouped by proximity to the window, light blocking and light filtering.
The wider the blade, the more space it needs to move and tilt; therefore, your shutters will need to be further away from the window. You might also need them to be further away from the windows to allow room for handles and latches.
The wider the blade, the fewer you have in the shutter in total, which means fewer gaps for light to possibly bleed through. If light blocking matters to you a lot, we recommend pairing your shutters with a lined roman blind or curtains.
The smaller the blade, the more you have more blades in the way of letting light in. It’s not a huge issue but wider is better if this is important to you. However, you may have to have smaller blades depending on the size of the shutter panels.
How they look • Small (approx. under 50mm): slightly more traditional and best suited on the smallest windows as too many blades looks cluttered. • Medium slats (approx. 60-75mm): The happy medium that looks good in just about all applications. • Large (approx. over 80mm): Best suited on large windows and sliding glass doors or room dividers. Fewer blades offers the most minimalistic look of all.
What rooms are shutters for?
The versatility of shutters is amazing; they really do work for every room.
- PVC shutters are best in areas with high humidity and moisture, sucha s kitchens, bathrooms and laundries
- Aluminium shutters are the best option for exterior shutters
- Wood shutters suit all other areas of the home; not suitable for outdoors or damp areas because they will absorb water
- The space around the windows shutters will be on matters. Shutters need a clear area around the window frame to be opened so certain operating configurations may not work in some instances; for example, windows hard up against the corner of a wall won’t accommodate a sliding panel but may have enough room for a simple hinged shutter.
- If insulation is your primary focus and your home needs an extra hand retaining warmth, there’s no reason your shutters couldn’t be paired up with a curtains or roman blinds.
Pairing shutters with blinds and curtains
It’s common to have more than one window furnishing per window to achieve everything you want. There are many combinations that work well. Whatever combination you choose, there’s a simple formula behind it - choose something for filtering light and retaining privacy during the day and for night time, something to block out light and prevent anyone seeing in when your lights are on.
What work together?
Your options will vary depending on your windows, but here is a basic list of configurations we’ve found work well when you want both on one window:
- Curtains over shutters
- Sheer curtains over shutters
- Roman blind over shutters (great option for the top of café style shutters)
- Curtains (including sheers) and roman blind over shutters
For further information to help you pair shutters, blinds and curtains. We go into detail on mixing patterns, coordinating colour schemes and a few other tips and tricks.
Décor ideas to accentuate your shutters
Matching wardrobe doors
In the bedroom, commit to the look and tie the whole room together with a matching slatted wardrobe door.
Batten and board in the bathroom
Shutters and bathrooms are such a natural combination; you can’t go wrong. To add an extra element of style and ‘wow’, add batten and board walls to the mix.
For a soft industrial ‘New York loft apartment’ look, team your shutters with brick walls or a brick-look wallpaper.
Give your shutters a glow and make them a real feature with small art gallery style lights above the window.
There’s something distinctly ‘old-worldy’ about shutters – even with the contemporary design and clean lines – that makes the the perfect partner for your rustic and natural, hardwood floors.
Plants really bring shutters to life. Large potted greenery such as a palm, philodendron, ficus or monstera makes the perfect companion for shutters’ simplicity. Decorative orchids or vases full of blooms also work well in a room with shutters.
Frame them with ‘side’ curtains
Side curtains do a great job of framing and emphasising your shuttered windows and giving the room a chic, elegant feel. The purpose of these is just to soften the hard edges around a window, they are not designed to be pulled just frame the window.
Read our blog article on matching flooring and window furnishings
Whether it comes down to colour, texture, personal preference or just practicality, matching your window coverings with flooring can help create a seamless look that brings your home together. Here’s our advice for getting right, including how to find the undertone in your wood floors, balancing concrete with softer window furnishings and deciding which part of the room is the bigger feature – the floors or the windows.
Using shutters as room dividers
Using shutters as room dividers can turn a large space into two or more smaller ones or create distinct zones within an open plan layout.
Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
- A reading nook or homework zone
- Pop up home office
- Home bar
- Dressing room
- Workout zone/home gym area
- Screen off the arts and crafts or kids play area
- A sanctuary for home massage
- Separate kitchen/dining from living area in an open plan layout
- Create individual spaces for kids who share a bedroom
More ideas for decorating an open plan home
Open floor plans (ie. kitchen, dining and living all in one room) are the norm now in Kiwi homes. Because these spaces are multi-use and décor ranges from hard surfaces to soft fabrics, choosing window furnishings can be a tricky design challenge. This article covers using curtains as well as shutters to create distinct zones.
Why choose custom-made shutters?
- You’ll get exactly what you want. A good shutter company (like Russells) will send a consultant to meet with you at your home and bring a wide variety of samples so you can see how different colours and materials look in your space.
- You’ll get experienced advice about which type of shutters are best for a room. For instance, if blocking light is the main priority, shutters with slats may not be the best option.
- Your shutters will be professionally measured and expertly made with special attention to detail.
- You can be sure the materials are authentic and reliable.
- Many specialist companies offer a product warranty.
- There may the possibility of a finance option to help make it affordable.
- Professional installation is often included as part of the service.
- Shutters are a worthwhile investment, but the initial cost is higher than blinds and most curtains. Here are some tips to help you achieve your dream shutter look within your budget
- Complete the most lived in rooms first
- For rooms that do not need to have light blocked (such as the bathroom or laundry) consider frosted or textured glass instead of a blind
- If you are building new or undergoing significant construction as part of a reno, consult with your shutter company early as it could reveal options that won’t be possible once the build is complete