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Can drapes and shutters look good together?

The question

My dining-room windows already have California shutters, and I am considering adding drapery to step up the drama and texture. Can I have both shutters and curtains? I swear I saw this in a magazine once.

The answer

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Some people say having both shutters and drapes is akin to wearing a belt with suspenders, but I disagree. Shutters give privacy and adjust light to varying degrees – although the slat design means they don't do a great job of keeping light out entirely – while lined drapes block light totally.

I am not a fan of drapery in kitchens or bathrooms, where just shutters will do. In other rooms, using both shutters and drapes means you can control the natural light as you'd like, much like having a dimmer switch on the sun. To keep the look clean, hang your drapes in a ceiling cavity so there's no need for hardware and end caps.

If that's not an option, keep the hardware simple and avoid heavy finials – the days of carved wooden pineapples are over. I like wide-slat shutters (they're less formal than those with narrow slats) paired with fulllength wool drapes lined in flannel for a luxurious, casual and long-lasting style.

Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is an architect and interior designer. Follow her on Twitter: @ddtaylordd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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