Decorative Folding Screens

Sally Painter
Folding screens are a great design element.

Decorative folding screens can be used as room dividers or as back-drops for dramatic room effects.

When To Use a Screen

Folding screens give depth and interest to your room. There are many reasons why you might wish to use a folding screen in your den, dining room, bedroom, or any other room in your home. The most common folding screen is a floor screen, but your space may dictate a smaller screen. Folding screens come in sizes small enough to fit on top of a console or sofa table.

Hide a Feature

Many times there are features in homes that are very costly to eliminate or change. For example, in an older home you might have a gas hot water heater in a room you wish to use for a small reading room. To move the heater, especially if it's gas, would be very costly. A decorative screen can hide the hot water heater while creating a visual wall. There are other instances and areas where an architectural feature or object can be hidden.

Perhaps you live in an apartment building and enjoy having natural light come in through the windows, but you overlook your neighbor. A shoji screen which has rice paper in between the multi-panels might be a great solution. The screen will block your neighbor's window while allowing light to enter your den.

Add Height To Your Room

You can add a screen to give the illusion of height to a room. The vertical lines will draw the eye up and create a false sense of height. This is especially effective when you have a small square room. The lines of a long room can be interrupted by the multiple vertical lines and add depth to the room.

Screen Another Room

Sometimes the entrance from one room to another needs a false wall. Perhaps it's an open doorway that you wish to continue using but would like it partially screened. Placing a screen a few feet in front of the opening will give you the desired privacy while still allowing traffic to flow from one room to the other.

Divide a Room

One of the most common uses is to create a room divider. A properly placed screen can give the illusion of a separate area for a vignette of a seating area for private conversations or a meditative space for a personal retreat.

Use more than one folding screen to create a wall and allow a doorway-sized opening. This is beneficial when you need to create an office area or craft work space within a large room.

A screen creates a dramatic effect for separating a dining area from a large den. You can always change the configuration for a new look.

Create an Entrance

If your front door opens directly into your den then adding a folding screen can give you the feel of a foyer or separate entrance area. You can add a console table and lamp in front of the screen and a potted palm tree to complete the look.

If the entrance area is large enough, you can add a chair or bench. The idea is to create the illusion of separation and since your screen is movable, you can experiment with the placement until satisfied with your new design.

Create a Storage Area

Perhaps you need to use a portion of your room for storage but adding a wall and doorway is not in your current budget. Folding screens can be used to completely block off the area. Just move the screen whenever you need to access. This is a great temporary solution until you can build a wall.

Add a Dramatic Effect

Adding a screen to the corner of a bedroom creates a dramatic and nostalgic effect. Dressing screens were very popular in past eras and are a great way to introduce color and patterns into a room.

Many decorative screens can become a design focal point in a den, library, sunroom, and just about any room in your home. These can be very detailed in craftsmanship and are an art object as well as a screen.

Exterior Use

Folding screens are great for outside use. These can be used to redirect foot traffic into your home. You can also use exterior screens to lend privacy to patios or porches. If you have outside rooms, adding a screen will give your room charm and ambiance.

Choices of Decorative Folding Screens

There is a limitless choice of folding screens. You want to keep several things in mind when selecting your screen.

Questions to Answer When Choosing a Folding Screen:

  • Will it be used seasonally or year round?
  • Does the screen need to allow light into the room?
  • Is the screen being used mostly for privacy?
  • If choosing a wooden screen what kind of wood and finish best fits into your overall room design?
  • Where will the screen be used?
  • What is the main function of the screen?
  • Are there any special design elements you need to incorporate into the screen? Such as pattern, color, period style, etc.

Sources For Folding Screen

Decorative screens can be very elaborate or simplistic. There are all kinds of materials and designs. You may opt for a sheer material suspended between panels that can be changed with the seasons for more colorful patterns or you may decide an Asian lacquer scene works best for your room. Below are some links for folding screen to help you get started.

Finding Decorative Screens:

Positioning Your Folding Screen

Once you've purchased your decorative folding screen be sure to experiment with the best possible placement then add other design elements.

Decorative Folding Screens