Shutters, those oldies-but-goodies, are effective weapons against cold air and look handsom with both modern and traditional furnishings.
The familiar kind -- delicate, horizontal louvers can be adjusted to admit air and light without any loss of privacy.
The same wood can be used to frame fabric panels either gathered or flat, and in any color, texture or pattern that works in your room.
Whether they're made of traditional louvers or fabric, shutters can also slide across a track in front of the window. The only drawback to shutters is their substantial cost, even if you buy the unfinished type at your local home center establishment and install them yourself.
But cheer up -- there is a shutter you can make inexpensively, and it is just as energy-efficient as the more expensive version. These thermal shutters are made of a stiff, foil-faced board said to reduce heat loss by up to 84 per square foot.
To use this thermal product, you must measure the height and width of the window to be covered, dividing the measurement in half to get the size of each shutter and subtracting three-eights of an inch from the height and width for weatherstripping.
Use a mat or utility knife and a straight edge to cut the board to your dimensions.
Cut the frame, or have your lumberyard do it, using enought sections of three-quarters of an inch by one-and-one-half inch stock lumber.
Glue and staple the frame sections to the outer edges of each piece of thermal board. You are now ready to wrap the fabric of your choice around the front edges of the shutter and around the frame; staple the fabric to the back, where the wood frame shows.
A word of caution: You should use a relatively lightweight, thin fabric that will not put too much stress on the thin-framed board.
Now screw two sets of hinges on the vertical edges of each shutter and fix them to each other in pairs to the edges of the window frame. A bit of felt weatherstripping on the meeting edges of the shutters and a piece of pine strip (three-quarters of an inch by one inch) at the top and bottom of the window form a seal against cold air infilitration.
In one room I designed, I used a thin off-white textured muslin to wrap around the therman board. This off-white color is repeated in a heavier fabric on the soft loveseat that fits neatly in front of the new shutters.