Chic solution to privacy issue
THE rear of our house backs onto a playing field. Well, there's our back yard and then a gate and then a playing field.
The point of me telling you this is that the back of the house is relatively private – the only time we usually get up close and personal with another living being is when small dogs attempt to get under the gate.
The front of the house is less so; people walking along the road tend to look into our living room and straight at us (or so it would seem).
In an attempt to screen us from the outside world without blocking out the daylight, I've put two towering pot plants in the window.
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One problem with this is neither plant is meant to be in direct light, so both are half brown and therefore – I can only assume – half dead.
The other problem is that they are balanced precariously on top of an old African drum and an antique table. This means every time we close the curtains you have to hang onto the plants to avoid a catastrophe of the soil-meets-carpet kind.
I steadfastly refuse to hang lace in the window because I don't want our home to resemble an old-fashioned tea room (or a ginormous doily), so the only solution is to get shuttering. I don't mean shuttering used for boarding up shops and empty homes (or concreting for that matter); I mean shutters, as in window dressing.
Dating back to the 18th century, shutters are experiencing a resurgence. They offer privacy without blocking out light and they look chic and elegant.
What's more, in today's increasingly eco-conscious society, they help prevent heat loss in the winter and help to keep the house cool in the summer.
Usually fitted inside the window frame, shutters come in hard wood or a wood substitute. They are hard wearing and versatile with the option of café style shutters, which screen the lower half of the window; tier on tier shutters which allow the top and bottom halves to move independently; full height shutters and solid panel shutters.
What's more, there are options to have thin, medium or wide slats which can be tilted to alter the light.
Most companies charge by the metre squared and they recommend having them professionally fitted.
Steve Hartland, from Sidmouth, works for Marla Customs Blinds. He said: "Shutters vary from window to window. Manufactured wood shutters are heavier and real wood shutters are lighter so it's best to use the real wood for a big expanse."
Steve also fits shutters with hidden tilt rods, so an adjustment of one "louvre" or slat will tilt the rest. The custom-made nature of these wooden window dressings can make shutters a costly option, but there's no questioning the fact they combine practicality – privacy, energy saving – with timeless elegance.
Shutterly Fabulous louvered and solid shutters are priced at £270 per square metre including at-home consultation and installation. Custom finishes start from price £300 m sq including at-home consultation and installation. For more information call 0845 017 8988 or visit www.shutterlyfabulous.com.
Manhattan café shutters painted in white, from £375 per square metre, The New England Shutter Company. For more information visit www.thenewenglandshuttercompany.com
Marla Custom Blinds prices range from £150 for a small bathroom type window and from £500 for a large sash window. The price per square metre for supply and install for the Seattle range (manufactured wood) is about £200; for the Phoenix range (real wood and lighter), is about £300.
FSC hardwood shutters from £168 per square metre at The California Shutter Company. For more information visit www.thecaliforniacompany.co.uk
For custom made shutters, fittings, quotes and advice contact Steve Hartland at Marla Custom Blinds on 01395 512605.