Shutters may be best solution to window-wall problems


Q: We're unsure of what to do with a wall consisting mostly of sliding-glass panels. They open onto a terrace in the seaside condo we recently purchased. The glass doors don't reach all the way to the top of the wall, resulting in a low-ceiling look. Other than traverse curtains, which we don't like, do you have a suggestion?

A: Several kinds of shades would be appropriate for a seaside setting. They could be hung from the ceiling and be adjusted to any height.

But because of the expanse of the sliding doors, more than a single shade will probably be required. You may therefore find shutters to be a better solution, though that's a more permanent treatment than shades.

Shutters do have the advantage, however, of adding texture as well as color to a setting. They can be painted or stained to complement the other elements in the room. Perhaps the photo will help you decide which option to choose.

You shouldn't have great difficulty in covering the entire wall -- both the glass doors and the section above them -- since a custom manufacturing firm will produce shutters in any size or shape you specify. A continuous floor-to-ceiling array, like the one seen here, will make the room look its actual height.

Here the longer shutters on the main section of the wall are louvered with movable slats, while the shorter ones above have fixed slats. That arrangement differentiates between the glass opening, where light needs to be regulated, and the segment of solid wall, which can be permanently enclosed behind unmovable slats.

When shutters are hung on such a large surface, it's customary to paint them the same color as the woodwork. That way, they look like extensions of the window frames.

If more attention is to be directed to the window wall -- as may well be desirable in your situation -- it would be better to create a gentle contrast between the shutters and the woodwork. This can be achieved by applying a slightly lighter or darker shade of the same color to the shutters or the woodwork.

The only other consideration is that shutters can produce a rather hard-edged look unless they are balanced with softer and more textural elements. Deep-cushioned upholstery would be a smart addition, as would an interesting area rug.

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