I’ve waited for many things in life – nine months for my babies, seven years for my first home and three years to find the perfect sofa for my home office. But there’s something I’ve been waiting a long time for, nearly eight years in fact, and I’ve finally been able to get them….plantation shutters!
I’ve long admired houses with shutters and as soon as we moved into our 1950s semi I knew that one day I would have to get them. Shutters just make a house look amazing; from the inside and the out.
They offer uniformity and their simple, clean lines update rooms in an instant. Plus the fact that they go with any décor theme (and colour scheme if you opt for white) means that I’ll never have to worry about window dressing again. Well, not while I live here of course.
Then there’s the investment in shutters, with many websites claiming that installing shutters can add more value to your home. If that’s the case (and it certainly wouldn’t devalue your house), then it’s a win-win situation.
I got three quotes from local shutter companies and one quote from a national brand (think of the first one that springs to mind!) And funnily enough, it was the national brand that turned out the most expensive.
But as we all know, price isn’t everything. People buy from people. So when Jon from All Blinds and Shutters turned up to quote, the first thing I noticed was that he removed his shoes before stepping into my home.
It might sound silly, but I’m quite house-proud and the single act of Jon removing his shoes and greeting me with a warm smile and an equally warm handshake meant we were off on the right footing.
I was just hoping that both the product and the price were going to be equally as impressive.
The home visit
I could tell Jon was a busy man (apparently he’s doing in excess of six home visits to measure up every day!), so after the pleasantries, he ran through the shutter options and colours, offering his advice as we went along.
I then chose what I’d potentially like, opting for ‘Pure white’ shutters without a central bar to keep the windows as unfussy as possible, given that I had Georgian-style cross-windows.
Jon then took measurements from all the windows that I wanted shutters for and came up with a quote. He then suggested that I have a think about the price and discuss it with VIP (he didn’t actually call him VIP of course!), but come to think of it, it would have been amusing if he had.
From my perspective, the non-pushy sales approach is a far more pleasant experience, so I appreciated Jon’s approach on this.
The big order
Given my experience with All Blinds and Shutters, including the quality of the product demonstrated, the guys behind the family business and the price, I decided that they were the company for me.
So in went my order and I was then on a countdown for eight weeks until they were fitted.
The louvre size I went for, which happened to be the most popular for the size of my home and windows, was 76mm and I also opted for a ‘Hidden Tilt' option, which meant there wouldn’t be a rod to twist at the side to open or close them.
Instead, when one louvre was pushed, the other louvres would also move (hence the hidden tilt option)My shutters are in those boxes!
My windows are also split, with a larger pane of glass in the bottom half and a smaller pane at the top and the shutters that were fitted were in the same style, meaning that I could open the top from the bottom (and vice versa) independently.
This is a great option when you want light into the room (leaving the top shutters open), but privacy from outdoors (closing the bottom louvres).
I needed five separate shutters – for the lounge, home office, my son’s bedroom, the main bedroom and the ensuite, which were all at the front of the house.
All the shutters were made from MDF, with the exception of the ensuite bathroom, which had the ‘Hollywood Wet Room’ product fitted, as it was more adequate for damp conditions.
It would take around eight weeks to put the order in, have the shutters made (made in Hong Kong), shipped back over and ready for delivery and fitting.
And when Jon explained the process for me, I let him know that I’d waited eight years to get shutters, so eight weeks was nothing!
All Blinds and Shutters is a family business, and the two brothers (Jon and Greg) run the company together. The business has stayed in the family since their dad founded it, which I think is lovely.
And where Jon does the measuring, quoting, promotion and marketing side of the business, his brother Greg is kept busy with the fitting.
When Greg called me in the morning to confirm that he’d be coming at 9am and to check the postcode, I thought it was Jon – they sounded exactly alike!
And when he turned up at my doorstep you could see the resemblance with his brother. And of course he too was polite and removed his shoes – brownie points already!
He’d also brought his Henry the Hoover with him to clear up the dust/debris from the fitting: these guys were clearly professional.
Greg, like his brother, is very personable. He was a real grafter and got on at the job in hand, but also made time to have little snippets of conversation with me here and there.
He installed the shutters from the top of the house down and when I saw the first lot of shutters in the bedroom, I was delighted. They looked as stunning as I’d imagined them to be.
Greg predicted that the fitting of shutters in the five windows would take about six hours in total and he was quite meticulous about getting the fitting right, which was great,.
He explained that most windows were not perfectly straight and that you really needed someone to know what they were doing to fit them properly and not leave any gaps anywhere.
True to his word, Greg was tied up with the last of the shutters – the home office, which had very uneven walls and an uneven windowsill – amongst the worst he'd seen apparently.
This was surprising to hear as this room was less than five years old (it had been converted from a garage into an office), but Greg had his work cut out and he spent a further two hours working on this shutter alone.
By the time he had finished you wouldn't have guessed that he'd have spent hours plaining the shutters to get them to fit perfectly.
And even when he was doing the fitting (and running upstairs and downstairs all day long), Greg still removed his shoes every time, which in my book speaks volumes.
The grand total of my shutters was £2,800, which I thought was a very reasonable price given that I was having five separate window shutters fitted – two of which were bay windows. The price also had a 10% discount as the company was running a sale at the time.
The price for my shutters also happened to be the cheapest one that I had received from each of the companies quoting, so not only did All Blinds and Shutters come across as the most professional, likeable and genuine, they also beat everyone else on cost.
Bear in mind that every house will be quoted differently depending on the size of their windows and the style (e.g. bay windows, flat windows etc..)
A deposit is required when you place the order, which is half of the total amount, with the other half being paid upon installation and completion.
The great news is that the shutters come with a five-year guarantee for peace of mind.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with my shutters. They have made such a huge impact on the look of my home – not only the overall look from the outside, but have really opened up the space inside, making it brighter than the heavily-lined curtains.
I've also noticed that my rooms are warmer, so they've actually helped insulate my home too!
My only regret? That I didn’t manage to save enough to have them fitted earlier. Better late than never though as they say!