Capturing the light

How do urban homeowners make the most of natural light while preserving their privacy and security? We have the answers
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Paint it pretty: shutters from the New England Shutter Company (; from £375 a square metre)
Natural light, privacy and security are what Londoners seek for their homes. Thankfully,there are ways to achieve all three that will suit most tastes and budgets, from fine bespoke wooden shutters with sheer voiles and blackout blinds behind them, to cheap and cheerful adhesive window films

Hanging voiles or sheer curtains are a great way of making a room feel light and airy. If the light itself is an issue put up a blackout or plain blind
behind the sheer - great in summer when the sun rises before you do. In winter, roll up the blind out of sight.

The Natural Curtain Company makes ready-to-hang lightweight linens, sheers and voiles from £159 with hundreds of styles and fabrics to choose from and, for a callout charge of £25, Londoners can get their curtains measured,too. It also makes made-to-measure blinds ( or call 0845 5000 400).

Subtle voiles from a huge range at Designers Guild (from £26 a metre)

'Blackout blinds are great for summer when the sun rises before you do'

Pret a Vivre also sells made-to-measure curtains and blinds and, until the end of August, many of its fabrics are on sale. Double-width voile (pictured below in crossover-style curtains) is currently reduced from £20 to £5 a metre. Expect to pay from £122 for a pair of unlined curtains,plus the cost of fabric, or £138 for a blind. Visit one of the two London showrooms in Notting Hill or Fulham ( or call 0845 130 5161).

For plain blinds in a range of brights, check out New House Textiles, which specialises in fancy trims and pulls. Basic blinds cost from £68 for a roller blind a metre square ( or call 01989 740380).

The Natural Curtain Company's ready-to-hang linens (from £159 complete)
For lace and organdie embroidered sheer panels, Laura Ashley is worth a look, with summer reductions on selected examples.Panels from £50. It also offers a made-to-measure blinds and curtain-making service (

And for budget basics, don't forget IKEA, which has lacy patterned panels such as Alvine Spets at £7.99 a pair and sheer muslin Wilma curtains in vibrant colours (£9.99 a pair) which come with an iron-on strip of hem, so that you can cut to length and hem in a flash (

Plain but pretty blinds to order online at
For fancier voiles by the metre, see Designer's Guild, which has a fabulous choice,from voiles with bold damask designs, dramatic colours and gilded stripes, to diaphanous silks and linenlook sheers in standard or three-metre widths. From £26 a metre (; 020 7893 7400).

Osborne and Little also sells wide-width sheer fabrics that have been designed to be used with the width forming the drop to avoid unnecessary seaming. From £50.53 a metre for 302cm wide. (; 020 7352 1456).

Brume's window panels
Instant etching: Brume's window panels start at £25 (01364 73951)
Jane Churchill has a wide selection of delicately patterned floral and spotted sheers,from £33 a metre (

A cheap way of keeping things light but private is to add a coat of adhesive film to your windows. Brume has a good selection, including coloured transparent film (£16 a metre for a 60cm-wide panel), available in eight colours, which looks just like stained glass especially when you mix them up.

'For stickers,all you need is a pair of scissors, a ruler and some diluted washing-up liquid'

Other designs include star and diamond patterns, stripes, spots and even cutlery cutouts. Panels cost about £25/£30 and are dead simple to hang. All you need is a pair of scissors, a ruler and some watered-down washing-up liquid in a spray bottle ( or call 01364 73951).

Voile curtains
From £5 a metre: crossover voile curtains from Pret a Vivre
For a price comparison, check John Lewis, which has 35 styles of readymade voile curtains, 50 styles by the metre and has just launched its sevenday made-to-measure curtains and roman blinds service online. In addition,from next month it will be able to colour-match most paint colour references. Simply quote your paint name and reference number and it will be ready in 21 days. The price of a custom-colour 50mm slat wood venetian is £166, and for a 1,200mm by 1,200mm window, it's £307 (

Fitting internal wooden shutters is the high-end solution for security-aware
Londoners, making windows almost impossible to break through. It is crucial to ensure you get good-quality shutters made to fit your windows properly, especially in Victorian homes where many surfaces may be warped or asymmetrical.

Make sure hinges are hidden out of sight and that the tilt rods that control opening and closing louvres work smoothly.

You should expect to pay fro m at least £350 a sq m and probably more if you want colourmatching, lacquer or another special finish. In return you will make your room bright, modern and safe.

Sanderson offers good craftsmanship from about £600 a sq m
Thomas Sanderson is recommended for its overall quality of craftsmanship while The New England Shutter Company ( specialises in quirky finishes.

In September it launches a collaboration with master gilder Rupert Bevan to sell "White Gold" Gesso and other hand-applied finishes - but you could be talking £1,000 a square metre at least.

Thomas Sanderson See, or call 0800 051 5404
The New England Shutter Company from £375 a sq m. See, or call 020 8675 1099
Custom West from £350 a sq m. Call 0845 165 8341

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