I’ve been “adulting it” since I was 18 years old…meaning living in a place not owned by my parents, paying my own bills, etc. And, over those 22 years, I’ve learned the things I like and the things I don’t like when it comes to setting up house. I don’t like wall-to-wall carpet. I like hardwood floors. I don’t like fluorescent light bulbs. I like daylight incandescent bulbs and maybe some halogen and LED. I don’t like electric stoves. I like cooking with gas.
I also don’t like blinds. I like curtains and shutters.
Ugh…blinds. Blinds with their tangled cords and dusty slats.
One thing I marveled over constantly while in Europe was their ingenious shutter designs that were a part of the house. They weren’t an afterthought purchased at the hardware store to replace the sheets that were tacked up until something more permanent could be installed. They folded back into the walls or window frames or were on the outside, operated by a crank or lever. Because they were built-in, they were integrated – clean and sleek. It seemed like putting shutters on the windows was as obvious to the builders as putting a door on a room. They complimented the architecture and framed out the window perfectly when they were opened. They didn’t look slapped on like a pair of obviously false eyelashes.
Ask me about blinds and I’ll tell you how I really feel.
In a new suburban home, the closest thing I could get to shutters that fold seamlessly into the window trim were plantation shutters.
My mom had them installed in her home, just one or two rooms at a time, and they added so much in function and also in form. I knew that is the direction I wanted to go for a few of the rooms in our home.
The nice thing about how our house is situated is that the back is pretty private and there are only a couple of windows along the side of the house. For the windows that run along the back, I’ve either made curtains or we have roll-up shades (for the boy’s rooms). The only real privacy issue is with the windows in the front of the house.
This includes the dining room, my office, the upstairs guest/sewing room, and the master bathroom (which already had some blinds). Since none of these rooms really needed privacy, we’ve left the windows naked. It did feel like a bit of a fishbowl sometimes, though. I would be in my jammies and someone would knock at the door and I knew they could see that we were home. Or I would be sitting at my computer and a dog-walker would pass by and wave at me. Window treatments of some sort were bumped up on my list when that started happening!
A few weeks ago, after lots of measuring, checking and double-checking, I ordered plantation shutters for the dining room, my large office window (that faces the front), and the master bathroom. I ordered them from Select Blinds. (As full disclosure, this is not a sponsored post, but I did receive a discount.) Since plantation shutters have to be accurately fitted, they worked with me to make sure they would fit properly on my windows (specifically the one in my office that was 109″ wide!)
We got it all sorted out and they even contacted me a few times during the manufacturing to clarify some of the shutter design choices and how they would function. For example, they suggested putting a horizontal divider, so the tops and bottoms could open independently and so they would have more stability.
The blinds arrived late last week in several larger boxes. (The picture below is the pieces for the bathroom shutter.)
I must admit that I was a little intimidated by all of the pieces. We had installed a shutter in my mom’s house and it was easy, but I didn’t remember having so many pieces! Once we started to open the boxes and got the first one assembled, though, it all came back and it was just as easy as I remembered. We had the first shutter installed in about 15 minutes. I think it took longer to get them out of the boxes!
And they look so good!! Not only do they look amazing, but it was…I don’t know how to explain it. Comforting, maybe? As soon as I closed the blinds and all of the louvers, it felt like we were insulated, cocooned.
I’m still considering adding full-length curtains on either side of the shutters in the dining room, but I’m going to live with these for a while before making that decision. The shutters add some nice architectural interest and visually work just fine on their own.
I was most excited about shutters in my office, though. I never liked that people could see in there (especially at night) and I always tried to keep the lights off as soon as it got dark. Even during the day, I can keep the bottoms closed when I’m working at my desk, so people walking their dogs can’t see me sitting there.
I didn’t get a blind for the side window since privacy isn’t an issue, but I might eventually order one. It would look more cohesive if all of the window treatments were the same in the room.
The blinds also pass the “Sebastian test”. If I leave one open during the day in each room, he can look out the front (as he likes to do.)
We still need to install the shutters in the master bathroom, but I need to paint the window frame, casing, and sashes first. We do have blinds there currently, so it’s not an urgent project, but I’ll probably get it done next week.
And I’ll finally take down that valance! Can you believe it’s still there?!
Eventually, we will order shutters for the upstairs guest room windows, so all of the window treatments in the front of the house are the same. There is a second story window in the foyer, but we’ll leave that as is. We’ll also eventually get shutters for the basement family room window and the downstairs guestroom. Both of those windows have the same wood-toned blinds that are in the master bathroom, so it’s not a high priority to replace them. We’ll probably just order one at a time, here and there, until all of those windows are done.
If you’re interested in installing plantation shutters in your house, I would suggest a few things…
- First of all, watch for sales! Select Blinds runs sales quite often. Currently, there is one running for 50% off everything.
- Be very precise with your measurements and measure your window at a few different points, since most window frames aren’t perfectly square.
- If you have a particularly large window, like the one in my office, send them an e-mail to see how to make the shutters work. They were able to customize an order to work.
- Keep handles, trim pieces, and other things in mind that might interfere with the installation or function of the shutters.
- Install them with a friend, since they can be a little awkward to manage on your own.
- If you’re using a powerful drill to drive the screws, dial the power back a bit, so you don’t drive the screws all the way through the plastic frame. (Ask me how we know this!)
I have a busy week ahead with a day trip on Monday, parent/teacher conferences, a couple of church events, the boys are off of school Friday, and there is lots of work I’m going to try to weave through it all…