Curtains have been increasingly under siege now for many years and it’s not hard to see why! For hundreds of years they were a great idea – indeed the best, if not only idea – for dressing windows, retaining warmth and maintaining privacy. But times have changed and 21st century alternatives leave curtains in the shade.
There have been a number of pretenders to the throne but, of all the alternatives available, wooden plantation shutters have emerged as the clear winner. It’s not hard to see why. Since they are practical, aesthetically pleasing and long lasting.
What’s more, unlike curtains, they provide good insulation against noise. This is a real benefit, especially for anyone living near a busy road. And shutters come in a variety of styles and finishes to suit every style of home – or office. From a centuries-old country cottage to a space-age loft apartment.
It’s not surprising that they are practical. They get their name from the popular design of shutters found on American plantations where protection from intense heat and light is of primary importance.
Shutters are made by hinging a number of panels together. This enables them to fold back. And whereas the original plantation shutters used in America’s deep south had fixed slats, today’s shutters have slats – or louvres – that can be easily adjusted to admit as much air or light as required.
Traditionally, of course, these window coverings were fitted externally. These days, however, for practical reasons they are normally fixed inside. And the good news is that they can be made to fit virtually any size or shape of window or French door.
So, there is no doubt they meet all the criteria for a practical window covering. What about looks? Well, they certainly can’t be faulted in that department! Wooden shutters are a design classic. And the choice is extensive – from the wide range of materials to the colour or stain with which they are finished. Whatever your style of furnishing or colour scheme you can co-ordinate plantation shutters with ease. And when you change your colour scheme you won’t have to change your window covering. Unlike curtains, shutters don’t ‘date’ and they certainly don’t clash!
But the superiority of shutters over curtains doesn’t stop there. Curtains require washing or dry-cleaning and you have to take them down first! Shutters stay in situ and just need a quick flick with a duster. And, of course, while dust gets into the very fabric of curtains, contributing to or aggravating allergies, there is no danger of this with shutters.
Any more reasons to have timber shutters instead of curtains? Well, curtains fade and the material eventually rots, whereas shutters are virtually indestructible.
Further more it’s all or nothing with curtains; open or closed. Shutters can be adjusted to your exact requirements and an advantage of this is that strong sunlight, the number one cause of fading furnishings, furniture and pictures, can be tamed without cutting out light.
Curtains have had a good innings. They have served us well but there’s no doubt that it’s time to move on. It’s a case of RIP curtains, long live shutters!
Courtesy Barry Dunlop.