If you’re here, you’re interested in interior window shutters. I don’t blame you one bit. They look good in traditional, contemporary or heritage homes and best of all you can custom build interior wood shutters yourself. No, really you can. I did. Here’s how.
My neighbours have interior shutters in their historical home and I’ve always loved them. So I stole the idea.
Some of my best ideas are stolen. The same goes for my jewellery. Don’t worry about stealing ideas, everyone does it. The one thing you should pay attention to is making the idea work for you and your circumstances. Adapt it, change it and make it your own.
For the shutters I wasn’t worried so much about light control, this house is dark on the sunniest days, but if you need something to totally block out light, nothing is going to do it as well as solid wood. Suck on that black out curtains.
I knew my neighbours’ interior shutters wouldn’t work for me because I didn’t have space on either side of my windows for opening them up. They have 2 shutters on each window that open up just like cupboard doors, laying flat on the walls on either side of the window. That wasn’t an option for me because I have too much stuff on either side of my windows to swing open a 15″ shutter on either side of them. There would be nowhere for the shutters to go.
How do interior shutters work?
Like a regular, old shutter. They’re mounted on hinges to your interior window frame. They swing open and closed just like a cupboard door or shutter.
If the shutters are painted the same colour as your walls they disappear both when they’re open or closed.
More so than any other window treatment, inside shutters will give you complete privacy when they’re closed and also keep the heat of the day out which means a cooler house in the summer.
After a good 2 years of thinking about them on and off I configured a way I could make wood shutters work in my house.
These are classic interior shutters like you’d find in an old English home, they are not plantation shutters.
Hinged Interior Shutters
1/4″ birch plywood sheets (good on both sides)
1/4″ flat, square edged trim (poplar)
Non Mortise Lid Hinges and screws
1″ narrow hinges and screws (4- 6 hinges total per window)
Drill and bits
1. Measure the width and height of the interior of your window. Plan to make each of your shutters 1/8″ smaller than the opening.
TIP – Take the window measurements from a few different places. If they’re different it means your windows aren’t square. If that’s the case, use the smallest of your measurements.
I bought 5′ x 5′ birch plywood sheets and had the widths of my shutters cut at the lumberyard. They can do a MUCH more accurate job on their table saw with these long panels of wood than I can when cutting them lengthwise. I just gave them the measurements of all my shutter widths and had them cut my plywood panels into strips. Once I got them home I just had to worry about cutting them to the right height with my mitre saw.
(The lumberyard cut my 5′ sheets into strips that were the widths I needed for shutters, then when I got the strips home, I cut them to the right length)
2. Once all your panels are cut to size you can cut your trim to match. This is an easy job with a mitre saw. The trim then gets glued into place with wood glue.
TIP – Use an old credit or gift card to spread the glue.
3. You need to put trim on both the front and backs of the plywood so the final thickness of your edges will be 3/4″. This is what you need for the hinges. Plus if you only put trim on one side, the shutters would be unfinished on the other side which is more offensive than dusty rose curtains.
*** If you can’t buy trim that’s long enough for your shutters you may have to piece some together to make a long enough piece. That’s what I did (by cutting the edges of the trim on a 45 degree angle and sliding them together). Like this. It’s more discreet than butting the 90 degree ends of the wood together.
4. Clamp your trim as soon as you get it placed.
TIP – Double check that your edges are still lined up after clamping. Clamps can pull the wood off kilter.
4. Once your edge trim is applied you can lay your hinges to what will be the backside (visible from the outside of your house) of your shutters. Pre-drill your holes.
TIP – I started out using brass hinges but abandoned them because brass screws are SO soft. Even with pre-drilling my holes I was stripping the screw heads. Use stainless or zinc hinges.
5. Screw the hinges in, making sure the wood is butted up together evenly.
TIP – Technically you could use only 2 hinges on each shutter, but the additional hinge in the middle helps keep the flimsy 1/4″ plywood from warping.
6. Even the shortest screws will come out the back of a 1/4″ piece of plywood. File the tips that protrude through with a metal file. It will just take a few zips with the file.
7. Because you’ve added trim on top of plywood the edges of your shutters are going to be hideous. Ugly little things. Cover them up with iron on banding (which is made especially for this purpose).
TIP – Don’t forget to run a block of wood with a sharp edge down your edge banding after you iron it to help everything stick well.
Please notice the scar on my hand from accidentally chopping my hand instead of a piece of kindling with an axe.
TIP – You’ll still have to trim the banding. I use an X-Acto knife for this. After trimming it, run your file down the edges to dull and flatten them even more.
8. Hang your shutters!
TIP – Not sure how to properly hang shutters? Read this.
9. Check to make sure the shutters open and close smoothly. Adjust your hinges if necessary.
10. Now you can finish your trim. I didn’t want to be able to see the seam down the centre of these shutters so I’m covering them up with a piece of trim. It runs directly centred over the seam but is only glued on ONE shutter. This way it covers the seam but you can still bend the hinges. Also measure and cut your last pieces of trim for the tops and bottoms of the shutters.
11. Glue and clamp all your final trim.
12. Sand off any areas where the trim isn’t perfectly flush. I had to do this on a couple of spots where I joined the wood.
13. Now paint ’em. I painted my shutters with my Wagner sprayer because you get such a smooth, fine coat of paint.
You could also use a microfibre roller for your shutters.
Just make sure to prime the shutters first, sand them after priming and then give them 2-3 coats of paint.
You’re done! I know it seems like a lot of steps and work but it’s all fairly straight forward. Time consuming? Yes. Terribly complicated? No.
How much do interior shutters cost?
To buy custom wood shutters for inside your home would cost thousands of dollars.
For this DIY version, each window treatment cost approximately $125. I built 5 of them for a total of $626. This cost includes all the plywood, trim, hinges, screws, edge banding, glue etcetera. It does not include the cost of paint. The cost will vary a bit depending on the size of your window.
- Cut shutters and trim to size.
- Attach trim with glue around edges of shutters.
- Add hinges.
- Hang shutters.
- Glue remaining trim.
See? Seems so much easier that way.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Do these look homemade? Nope. At least I don’t think so, lol.
Can I have curtains too? You don’t really need them, but sure you can have curtains too. I’d make sure they’re very plain though with no pattern otherwise it might just look like a jumbled, busy mess. I’m actually considering adding black velvet curtains for the winter months.
I’ve been living with these for a few years now and they still work perfectly and I still LOVE them. They’re simple, elegant and discrete. Because of that I’ve decided I’ll eventually be doing them for the entire house.
If you’ve been trying to come up with the perfect window treatment and you’re liking this, feel free to steal the idea. I’m perfectly happy with you doing that. And I just checked – my neighbour is too.
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