The Perfect Folding Screen

It took me a long time (years…okay, decades) to figure out folding screens. I mean, what’s the point of sticking something (that’s not even flat and that you can’t sit on) up against a wall? It seemed to me that a folding screen just took up valuable floor space and offered nothing in return, not even 6 square inches on which I could set a glass.

But after viewing many of these things, I’ve come to realize that their value is in the dimension and pattern they add to a space. More textural than most pieces of art, folding screens have depth. Not bulky or thick, they can be moved around to enhance corners, provide visual “walls,” or serve as a backdrop to any number of vignettes. Versatile and stylish, that’s the folding screen way. Consider the following:

Living room design1View in gallery

The simple geometric design of this folding screen adds a lovely aesthetic element to the room without being too weighty for the space. It draws the eye up and takes care of the room’s No Man’s Land (mid-wall height). Because there are lots of other textures and patterns going on in this space, a folding screen out of simple wrought is a good choice here.

Dining room folding screenView in gallery

This dining room, heavy on the details, would seem utterly incomplete with a simple wall next to the table. Even adding more prints like those on the far wall would’ve come in short, turning the elegant room into more of a gallery. That’s why this ornate screen is a perfect choice here. Its dark color adds substance to the room, while the gilded details provide the flourish that the other fancy furnishings require.

Reading corner folding metal screenView in gallery

Imagine this sitting area without the detailed folding screen. It wouldn’t work as well, would it? Despite the many interesting items here (the animal print upholstery, tufted side ottomans, those giraffes!), this exotic and lush nook would feel almost empty if it were not framed out by the screen. The detailed iron adds the perfect amount of background polish…while letting the other components shine.

Mirrored folding screenView in gallery

Mirrors on a folding screen?! Genius. I love this idea, because it amplifies light (especially, in this case, from the large windows opposite) and adds brightness and shine to the corner of an otherwise empty solid space. This full-height folding screen is an excellent choice here because it also serves as a nice linear transition from the mural to the rest of the room. The magic of the mural seems to continue on, since we can’t see where it “ends.”

Sofa folding screenView in gallery

These wide folding screens are a good choice for this large space – they visually bring the ceiling level down, making the room feel cozier and more intimate. Given the simplicity of the room’s furnishings (soft solid colors, basic forms), the folding screen itself becomes the “wall art” that doesn’t’ detract from the neutral color palette.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.