Tips and Tricks
Tips and Tricks

What’s Best for Your Home: Blinds, Shades, or Shutters?

A well-placed window treatment “will work wonders.” But which is the right window treatment for your home?


The average American spends 93 percent of their life indoors, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). No wonder homeowners are constantly remodeling or redesigning their interiors. However, interior design is no easy task. Where do you start? What’s important? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you get the most bang for your buck?

According to Decoist Lifestyle Editor Sherry Nothingam, it pays to think small.

“We think of everything ranging from color to style, decor and accessories when dreaming up our image of a ‘perfect home,’” she says. “Yet we often tend to ignore some of the little things that ultimately make the biggest difference.”

Take window treatments, for example. “Bare windows are certainly great for the pocket book,” but that’s about it, says Steve Corbeille is an interior design professional with more than 25 years of experience, specializing in custom window treatments, bedding, upholstery and wall coverings. The right window treatments can make a world of difference in any room. They are not only functional, but add an extra dimension of aesthetic appeal.

Blinds, shades, and shutters allow you to “manipulate the architecture and mood of a room, says designer Scot Meacham Wood, formerly of Ralph Lauren and now owner of his own design firm. A well-placed window treatment “will work wonders.” But which is the right window treatment?

Choosing the Right Window Treatments

Fundamentally, blinds, shades, and shutters all serve the same purpose. They control “privacy or light — or both,” says Shane Inman, Houzz contributor and president and senior principal interior designer of The Inman Company. And, as we have already discussed, window treatments also play an important role in interior design. But which makes the most sense for you? Well, that is entirely dependent on a few key factors: personal preference, budget, and placement.

Blinds

In terms of functionality, blinds tend to provide the greatest level of light control. These window coverings consist of slats or vanes that can be tilted at various angles to regulate light flow. The entire window treatment can also be raised or lowered, furthering light control and privacy.

And wood blinds look great too!

Wood blinds “add a feeling of warmth and coziness to the atmosphere in the room” and “give a natural look to the room with a graceful charm,” says Jimmy Sturo of Ezine Articles. “They look much better than traditional curtains or shutters.”

“They are equally at home in traditional paneled or rustic-style homes and more modern spaces,” adds Leslie Plummer Clagett of This Old House.

Brown Wood Blinds in Living Room

Premium Wood Blinds

Our Recommendation: Wood blinds are at home in almost any room, but are best suited for the dining room or living room, areas where light control and aesthetic appeal are most important. Faux wood blinds, made from 100 percent vinyl, are also an excellent choice for the kitchen as they provide the “elegant look of real wood with more durability,” says Katie Christopher, Houzz contributor. The vinyl material is better able to stand up to the heat and moisture of the kitchen.

 

Shades

The term “shades” refers to a wide range of stylish window coverings, such as Roman shades, honeycomb shades (cellular shades), roller shades, and pleated shades. However, each operates is fundamentally the same manner – you raise or lower the window treatment to regulate light flow.

Soft Roman Shades in Bedroom

Soft Roman Shades

Our Recommendation: Shades tend to work best in rooms where privacy is the biggest concern – like the bedroom or bathroom. “Unlike other rooms, bathroom window treatments need to let in natural light while keeping prying eyes out,” says David Rasmussen of Rasmussen Construction in San Francisco. The same is true for the bedroom, which is why top down/bottom up shades work best. This added functionality allows the user to “let light in without sacrificing privacy,” advises Rasmussen. These window treatments allow more privacy by giving users a choice of opening window shades from the bottom up (the traditional method), or from the top down. The latter permits light to enter without giving up any privacy.

 

Shutters

Long before blinds and shades ruled the window treatment world, interior shutters were the crown jewel. They began to fall out of favor in the Victorian era when newer window treatments burst onto the scene and stole the show – namely heavy interior drapes. Fortunately, interior shutters are making a comeback.

“As an interior design choice, you can’t go wrong by selecting wood shutters,” says interior designer Celeste Stewart. “They fit in with just about any décor and offer a clean, cohesive look throughout the home.”

Blue Shutters in Mudroom

Premium Hardwood Shutters

Our Recommendation: The truth is that shutters, whether wood or vinyl, work in just about every room. While they do not provide quite the same level of light control as blinds or the same functionality of top-down/bottom-up shades, interior window shutters add a level of drama and intrigue to a room that the other two window treatments cannot match. “This smart window treatment is beautiful yet functional, and it will give you a blank canvas to play with,” says interior designer Ravi Lakhaney.

“Shutters provide privacy and let in light and, when split into two tiers, also offer maximum flexibility,” adds interior designer Rebecca Hayes. “Shutters are a neat window treatment for small rooms: when folded back, they allow the maximum amount of light to enter the room, and they also maintain a stylish and tidy feel.”

"Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from the days of [only] hiding them [windows] behind basic mini blinds."
— Carolyn Forté, Home Appliances & Textiles Director in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute