Shuddering at California shutters

Q: My girlfriend and I recently bought a condo. It’s a two bedroom in an older building, with fairly large rooms and windows. We don’t consider it our forever address, but we will be here for at least five years. That said, we need advice on our window coverings. Neither of us are really drapery type girls, but we do require privacy from neighbouring buildings. My girlfriend has an attachment to California shutters, but I find them dated and heavy looking. I prefer roller blinds, but she thinks they’re too utilitarian. Any ideas?

A: I’m not expecting to score points with your girlfriend when I say I side with you when it comes to California (plantation) shutters. I think they have a place (a beach house or in a bathroom) but I’m personally not a fan of these shutters from a decorative perspective. I realize you and I are in the minority; plantation shutters are loved by many because they’re an easy way to cover every window of a house without the effort or expense of draperies.

I like the simplicity of roller blinds, but, at the same time, I understand your girlfriend’s concern regarding the utilitarian look. If they are intended to be the primary window covering (as I assume they are in your condo), then I think they look best with simple, uncluttered furnishings.

They can be the perfect fix for lofts or condos, but if your tastes lean toward traditional decor, they’re probably not going to be decorative enough on the windows.

For a more layered look, I’ve used roller blinds in addition to linen sheers and decorative side panels. I like them mounted on the inside frame of the window behind a four-inch (10.16 cm) wooden valance (valance height will vary depending on the size of the window and blind) that is painted the same colour as the window trim.

You wouldn’t even realize they’re there until they’re rolled down at night for privacy.

Depending on how close your windows are to the windows of the neighbouring building, you may need to have the blinds down during the day and in this case, I like the roller shades pictured here by Delia Shades (deliashades.com).

Ten years ago, industrial designer Delia Heilig felt the same way as your girlfriend about roller shades, so she set out to change that. After perfecting the screen-printing process, Delia started designing and producing roller shades patterned after traditional window coverings from around the world.

When you view her website, you see Moroccan arches, French wrought iron work and Indian jali patterns, to name but a few. Delia stocks three weights of roller shade mesh and can line them with blackout lining if total light blocking or privacy is required. Every shade is made to order with window measurements you provide. Pricing is about $25 a square foot (0.1 square metre).

You may not want to use these in every room, but I think they’re perfect for principal rooms in which you’re looking to make a statement. And for the other rooms, investigate options at such stores as Blinds to Go or Home Depot.

Check the rules of your condo board when it comes to window coverings, because with any luck, your building doesn’t allow plantation shutters and you and I won’t have to take the blame for poohpoohing them in the first place.

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