The origins of folding screens date back to China to at least 200 BC. Perhaps the most famous examples are the lacquered Coromandel screens that were imported from China to Europe in the 17th century. These iconic works of art combined beauty and function and were either hand-painted or inlaid with tortoiseshell or mother of pearl.
Today, folding screens are better known as room dividers. They come in a variety of shape, size, style and construction materials. Some are utilitarian in design; others are decorative pieces. All, however, serve the same function – to divide physical space.
According to a recent Business Insider article (https://www.businessinsider.com/best-room-divider), room dividers can be used for, but are not limited to:
- Designating space for specific use (changing area, home office)
- Creating privacy and personal space (for roommates)
- Organizing and sectioning parts of an open floor plan
- Carving out a cozy nook within a larger space
- Adding colorful and decorative touches (prints, carvings, and other adornments)
- Displaying or organizing items like knickknacks, books, etc.
- Hiding clutter and creating a storage area
- Redirecting foot traffic
Things to consider when buying a room divider
When choosing among the myriad options of room dividers, the article suggests the following:
How large (height and width) do you need it to be? How big is the space where you plan to use it? While you want to make sure the divider is large enough, you don’t want it to overwhelm the space or make the place seem crowded.
Do you need just a plain design or do you want a more ornate divider to bring a touch of flair to your space? Does the divider fit and complement your room’s decor?
Do you want the divider to be solid, thick, and opaque or do you want it to let through some light? If privacy isn’t an issue, you have more flexibility and options, such as a translucent or open-structured divider.
Dividers are made of wood, fabric, plastic, paper, or any combination. You’ll want the divider to have the appropriate heft for standing or hanging sturdily, and possibly blocking out light and even sound, if desired.
Some dividers are composed of panels that fold; others are single pieces that either stand on the floor or hang from the ceiling.
Ease of use and portability
In case you want to adjust or move the divider (e.g., open and close a curtain, widen or narrow a screen, slide it aside), avoid a heavy or fixed one.
Ease of cleaning
Can you simply wipe down a surface or throw it into the washing machine?
Foldable screens and curtains are great for packing up and hiding away.
Bottom Line: Room dividers/folding screens are a great way to inject pattern into a space without having to commit to wallpapering or painting an accent wall.
THE DECORATIVE, VERSATILEL, PRACTICAL FOLDING SCREEN
Masterpieces of Japanese Screen Painting: The American Collections, by Miyeko Murase
How to Decorate Using a Floor Screen