I realise that shutters don't necessarily feature in every interior design project, but shutters are one of those finishing touches that you really don't want to get wrong. Mainly because they aren't exactly cheap, but also because they make such a big difference to a room, and even the slightest misstep can do more harm than good. I cannot tell you the amount of conversations I have had with people who tell me, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, that they have just had shutters installed, only for all enthusiasm to drain from my life, as they begin to describe what they actually had done. I never want to have those conversations again, so here goes...
1) If in doubt, go pure-white. There are loads of shutter companies that offer colour options and ranges of whites, which is great if you are matching to a specific colour or tone, but pure-white is a never fail option. It might sound boring in a conversation about blinds, but shutters aren't cheap, so no point in cocking it up for the sake of sounding adventurous.
2) If you aren't going for concealed hinges, don't go for white hinges thinking it will make the hardware less noticeable. White shutters already have a tendency of looking plastic. White hardware will only make things look more plasticky (actual word that) and you don't want things looking cheap. You can't avoid having stainless steel hinges in bathrooms or kitchens, so don't fuss too much about this in the other areas. The hinges are tiny, so no real risk of clashing with the other metal finishes in the room.
3) If you are going to install hardwood shutters that look like Venetian blinds, save your money and buy Venetian blinds. What do I mean by this? Venetian blinds have super slim slats, these look gross. When selecting the slat size, opt for something between 70-90mm thick. Anything less reads "I live in an office." Slats on cafe style shutters should be on the 70mm side, with full height ranging from 80-90mm
4) What is a tilt rod? Its the little stick that you use to move the slats up and down. Tilt rods are messy, so unless you're after a tradish design, avoid them. It might cost a little more, but opt for concealed tilt rods.
5) If you are going the full-height route, try and avoid "tier on tier" shutters. These look great if you have floor to ceilings windows, or live in a warehouse conversion, but in your typical house, with two meter high windows (if you're lucky) it will just make things look cluttered. Just go for a mid-rail that will allow you to operate the top and bottom slats independently.
6) If you have tall windows, but don't require a fitted mid-rail (the supplier will tell you if you need one) ask for a "hidden break." This means that you can still control the top and bottom half of the blinds independently, and they don't always have to be either open or closed...an issue people often voice with shutters. This is especially handy in a bathroom or dressing room where you don't necessarily want to block the light, but you do want to maintain your decency...close the bottom, open the top, and be naked to your heart's content.
7) Cafe style shutters - don't assume that just because they are described as "half height" they should automatically be half the size of the window. Make sure the shutter has some relationship with the window and its surrounds. i.e. finishes just above the height of the mid-rail on a sash window, covers the window latches etc etc.
8) You may be hit with the question about how you want your shutters open, and it will suddenly dawn on you that you have never thought about this, EVER. Not all shutters are divided into two equal panels, with hinges on the left and right, opening from the middle. Sometimes the shutter needs to be split into three parts, so one side will have two panels, and other just one...no right or wrong here, but generally I keep the "two panel side" on the side closest to the corner of the room, and mirror this for the adjacent window.
9) If you live in a street-facing house, with a living room in the ground floor and bedroom on the first, you can't have shutters on the first floor and not the ground. It makes your house look top heavy from the outside. You can have bottom only and shutters on both, but not top only...soz.
10) Just because you have installed shutters in a room doesn't mean you don't still need curtains to soften the look. I would say that 99% of the time this is the case. If you know you are never going to use the curtains, go for a dummy curtain on either side (especially in a bay window) and this will help soften the space a tad.
11) Shutters don't do a great job of blocking out the light, especially if you want complete black out at night. Solution? Set your shutters slightly proud of the window, and have a block out roller-blind installed in the space between the window and the shutter. Also, a "rebated style" will help block the light coming through the middle.
12) If you have pretty boring windows, and want to try introduce some some period features, shutters are a great way of doing this. Some of the more traditional mounting styles pretty much act as architraves, so you can kill two birds with one stone without having to get a builder in to fit mouldings.
Every shutter installed is made bespoke, so take the time and get the details right. This isn't a sponsored post, but suppliers such as Plantation Shutters have loads of info online about all the bits I have mentioned. However they are now just one of many suppliers and installers out there that you can impress with you extreme decisiveness and depth of knowledge on all things shutters.