Let there be light (or not)—it’s your choice with the right shutter
We get it—not everyone is a morning person, and some people really don’t need bracing, bright sunlight hitting them in the face at 6:30 a.m. Luckily, there’s a range of indoor shutter options for those of us who need to sleep (and subsequently wake) in the dark and others who may prefer the sun’s brilliance and want to let it all in. Here’s our guide outlining all the different interior shutter styles so you can make the best choice for your home (and preferred style of waking up).
How to Choose Interior Shutters
Choosing interior shutters is different from choosing between the various types of exterior shutters. These shutters live in your home, and therefore reflect your interior design. You should consider these factors:
Your budget: Some shutter materials are much more expensive than others. Compare the costs and how many windows you’ll need window coverings for.
Your lifestyle: You may have a green thumb and need lots of natural light for your houseplants, or you may place privacy as a top priority. Different shutters offer varying levels of openness.
Installation: You may find it easier to install certain shutters.
Design: Some shutter materials are more customizable than others to match your home’s decor.
Types of Interior Shutters
Choose from a range of interior shutter styles, each with its own pros and cons.
Reminiscent of bistros in Paris’ 5th arrondissement, café style shutters only cover the bottom half of your windows, letting in lots of natural light. They can cover the full half or only a portion (one-third or two-thirds are other common options); some people also like to use curtains to cover half of the window, with the shutters covering the bottom portion. These shutters might work best in areas of the home where you want lots of sunlight but don’t mind less privacy.
Lots of natural light
Many design options with optional curtains
Less privacy than other options
Tier-on-tier shutters (sometimes called double hung shutters) are sort of like the aforementioned café style, but doubled; there is a panel on the top as well as the bottom, so you can decide if you want the top open, the bottom open, or both, allowing for the best of both worlds when it comes to privacy and natural light. You can also opt to keep the bottom portion semi-permanently closed or open to accommodate an air conditioning unit, a light-hungry plant, or a piece of furniture.
Options for more or less sunlight with its two-panel structure
Great to accommodate small spaces, as you can keep the bottom panel open for other objects
Can overwhelm smaller windows
With double the number of panels, installation can be more complex
Full-height shutters cover the entirety of the window, with one panel fitted from top to bottom. This style offers lots of privacy while also allowing you to control the amount of light that comes in; you can opt to install a mid-rail, giving the option of controlling the upper and lower slats independent of each other.
Better insulating properties
Offers excellent light blocking and privacy Cons:
Might block too much light in dark or small rooms
Minimal flexibility with regards to light control
This style is fitted, top-to-bottom, on a set of rails that fold up, concertina-style, when not in use. In addition to window coverings, these shutters can also function as room dividers or to conceal small spaces, like pantries, if designed to accommodate that need specifically. They’re typically available as bi-fold or tri-fold.
Can function as doors
With more complex hardware, the shutters are prone to damage
Not suitable for windows with sills
If you have a room that requires complete light blockage and privacy, you can choose solid panel (sometimes called Shaker style) shutters which typically do not have louvers; as the name suggests, they use a solid block of wood. Solid panels are usually tier-on-tier, with the top half operating distinct from the bottom, and some options allow for one half to include louvers with the other half being completely solid. Solid panels might be a great choice for bedrooms, especially if you are sensitive to noise and light.
Highest level of insulation
Maximum light control for light sleepers
Not very flexible—you can have them open or closed, but nothing in between
Types of Interior Shutter Materials
Once you’ve decided which style is best, you’ll want to consider the material they’re made from depending on the room and your budget.
Typically made from North American basswood, hardwood shutters are very sturdy (and also the most expensive option presented here—mahogany and walnut cost even more) and offer an unparalleled luxurious, classical look. You can choose from various colors and stains to match your floors or furniture and is ideal for larger windows. Hardwood shutters aren’t optimal in moisture-rich areas like bathrooms or kitchens as the wood can warp.
Cost: Expect to pay $200–$350 per panel
You can purchase solid vinyl in various colors to match your decor, but you can’t stain vinyl like you can wood. Relatively inexpensive, it’s easy to care for but better for smaller windows as it isn’t as strong as wood.
Cost: Typically, $100–$300 per shutter
Engineered wood is exactly what it sounds like: shutters that look like hardwood, but made of composite wood, sometimes combined with a PVC material. They are easier to install (lighter than hardwood) and often used in spaces with higher humidity levels.
Cost: $80–$300 per panel
High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is made from recycled milk jugs. It is an eco-friendly option that requires little maintenance.
Cost: $100–$300 each
More insulating than wood, thermalite (high-density polymer foam) shutters are water-resistant and easy to maintain.
Cost: Expect to spend $100–$300 per panel
Interior Shutter Comparison
Picking the right interior shutters should be based on several factors and your particular priorities, weighing cost, lifestyle, and rooms where the installation takes place.
Best for Warm Climates
Full-height or solid panel shutters are your best bet to keep hot weather out of your home.
Most Sustainable Materials
Polywood is an environmentally-conscious choice made from recycled materials.
Best for Small Windows
Café style shutters are excellent for smaller windows if you can sacrifice a little privacy; they’ll offer you the most light despite the small window size.
Best for Light Sleepers
Opt for full-panel shutters to minimize exterior noise and light from getting in.
Best for Kitchens and Bathrooms
For these high-moisture spaces, choose engineered wood or thermalite to prevent warping.
Easiest to Install
We recommend hiring a local window professional to install your shutters, but if you plan to DIY, full-height shutters made of engineered wood will likely pose the least amount of trouble.