When you hear the expression, “It fits like a glove,” some images come into mind. Perhaps you envision a perfect fit for your own hand, snug and comfortable, warm, yet breathable. You anticipate a dab of luxury for the winter months or for a vacation to a cold yet wonderful place.
The perfect-fit glove feels soft and comforting next to your skin. Its exterior texture is supple, smooth, seemingly flawless.
A glove with a perfect fit assures use. The ability to be productive with your hands is not hampered with awkwardness, and you feel safe, secure and poised. Great fitting gloves are one with your hands. A perfect-fit glove assures confidence. There is an aura of elegance that bespeaks the expectations of sumptuousness.
Like a finely made glove, wood window products—blinds, and especially shutters, should fit like a glove, meaning they are perfectly fitted to the window and perfectly suited to the room’s décor. They should and can provide assurance, confidence, security, poise, elegance, fabulous texture or supple smoothness. They become one with the interior, providing elegance and even grandeur.
High-quality wood products are often sold not simply for light control and privacy, but for several advantages, all of which will be successful if certain criteria are met.
FIT AND FINISH PRIORITIES
There are some criteria that are of critical importance in specifying, selling and installing shutters. Unlike many soft custom treatments, there is no “forgiveness” in wood products if the dimensions are imperfect. There must be perfection in these products as each feature is fully exposed to the eye at all times, unless the shutter or blind is used as an under-treatment. Although it is possible that wood blinds may be layered with draperies or top treatments, rarely are shutters seen as under-treatments in contemporary interiors today. They are typically a standalone product. As a result, a perfect fit is imperative. Professional training also is imperative so that confidence and competence are complete.
Custom shutters should be left to professionals in terms of measuring and designing. There are too many necessary details and considerations that exclude shutters from being a quick and easy job, or a do-it-yourself job. A few of these details include the fact that the panels must fit and align perfectly. Not only must louvers align from one panel to the next, but panels with divider rails need to line up from one window to the next. Two windows side-by-side with louvers and divider rails miss-aligned could cause the homeowner the feeling of motion sickness when walking into the room!
The finish on wood products (and we also should include faux wood products, too) is the sizzle that sells the steak. A finish attained by high-quality paint in a handsome white or neutral, for example. Whether stained or painted, the furniture-grade finish and luster is what draws the excitement. This finish needs to be satiny smooth, flawless and both sharp or clean and inviting to the eye and enticing to the touch.
High quality shutters will excel at light control. Without complex mechanisms, they are unlikely to break, they will be just as user-friendly in 10 or 20 years as they are today. Light control also translates to privacy control. The eternally amazing feature of horizontal or vertical vanes is that during daylight hours they assure an extraordinary amount of interior privacy while allowing a perceived seamless view. The eye discounts the straight line and perceives the entire exterior as though it were unimpeded. At night, a perfectly fitted shutter will allow for 100 percent privacy, which is a critical factor in today’s insecure and often unsafe society.
Today there are ever-present concerns about sustainability in all our interior furnishings products, with no exception allowed for blinds and shutters. To their credit, quality product manufacturers have responded ethically. More and more wood shutters are being constructed of North American hardwoods and exotic woods from renewable, managed forests or from quick growing species.
Attractive and strong, real wood products often are misconceived as harmful to our environment, when actually with sustainable forestry practices in place they are not. In the early 1990s, the USDA Forest Service estimated that the United States still has 70 percent of the forestland that was here in 1600. Each year, an estimated six trees are planted for every one that is harvested.
Shutters have come into their own in recent years. They offer versatility that makes them appealing in many places—the window is only the beginning really. Shutters now are used as handsome, appropriate and very operable door and slider panels. Adding shutters to the home not only at the window, but as doors between rooms, as closet doors, as room dividers, as free-standing screens and other creative uses will last for years and work with many interior styles from sleek minimalist to traditional wood paneled libraries.
Look for shutters to continue to grow as an important market segment. It has been strong for the past several years and will continue to be an exclusive, impressive and very attainable and appealing window treatment in the future.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.