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Serene Shoji Style Decorator Screens & How to Make Them

Updated on February 17, 2015

Folding Screens Have a History

Buy some of the coolest screens to lend a calm filtered light to your favorite room. Find gentle patterns or soft paper partitions to create the desired atmosphere.

Solid painted Asian Screens add a touch of elegance to any decor, and when situated in front of a window or several feet out backing a furniture setting, they allow window light to filter in while maintaining privacy.

Art Books are filled with explanations of images that are often found on Japanese and Chinese Folding Screens. They are also great sources of images that can be used by a do-it-yourselfer to model her own paintings after. Buy rolls of rice paper at a local art supply store. It's cheap and you can afford to learn by painting on squares cut to fit your screen. Use a natural image or copy calligraphy for a unique touch. Books on Sumi Painting are full of images that are a joy to copy with your own Sumi Painting Brushes.

Get Asian themed Wallpaper that you can cut in panels and glue on top of a plain paper screen, and Books and Sumi Painting Tools. Ancient Asian screens depicted elegant scenes from history and nature and design. TweetToday's screens can hold whatever you dream up, and you may want to try your hand a making one yourself.

image credit: my own photo

Elegance for Your Beautiful Home - Chinese influence

Oriental Furniture 36" Gold Leaf Flower Dance
Oriental Furniture 36" Gold Leaf Flower Dance

Beautifully rendered, simple & serene, handpainted Sung dynasty era design ink & watercolor paintings- Blossoms motif, traditional symbol of luck & fortune, on hand crafted Rosewood frame folding screen, with mulberrypaper covered in silk, with 2" fine silk brocade matte border,


Fascinating Shoji History

Chinese folding screens differ from the Japanese models in that they were designed as semi-permanent room partitions that carried beautiful artworks on the panels themselves. The Chinese screens were heavy structures carefully hand crafted with natural materials. Cloth and/or leather were used as hinge materials.

Japanese screens developed from a rich background as props for tea ceremonies and backgrounds for everything from dance performances to religious rites. The Japanese screen makers developed sophisticated means of using paper as layered hinges, allowing them to fold the screens in various ways, allowing for variation in the patterned sections.

Western sea traders became enamored of the usefulness of the folding screens for both their practical and decorative uses. Religious groups even used screens as backdrops for imparting knowledge from geographical maps, and even for illustrating religious beliefs.

Europeans added wallpaper and Americans began to include needlework on their custom designed screen adaptations.

Hanging Shoji Style Window Screens are a more recent variation of an ancient tradition. Find much more material on the beginnings of folding screens at

Ornate Natural Chinese - or - Light Airy Japanese Types

Do you prefer elegant Chinese Screens or lightweight simple Japanese Shoji Screens?

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Oriental Furniture 6 ft. Faux Leather Gold Crocodile Room Divider
Oriental Furniture 6 ft. Faux Leather Gold Crocodile Room Divider

71" Tall x 15.75" Wide x 5/8" Thick Panels - About 6ft.Tall x 3.5ft. Wide When Open as Shown. Beautifully Crafted - Kiln Dried Spruce Frames - Fine Quality Faux Crocodile Skin Vinyl


Add Dramatic Flair With Shoji Screens

Clever do-it-yourselfers can add a wallpaper mural to their favorite screen purchase for a truly customized design, similar to that pictured here. Go wild and crazy or choose a serene photograph and enjoy! Find your screen here on eBay!

Artist Painting on Paper

Artist Painting on Paper
Artist Painting on Paper

My Painting



This is one of my Stroked Bamboo series paintings

mixed-media on paper

Lovely Floral Japanese Design Shojis

ORE International Black 4 Panel Plum Blossom Screen Room Divider
ORE International Black 4 Panel Plum Blossom Screen Room Divider

For creating separation in small spaces, it is hard to beat the simplicity and visual appeal of standup screens. This version from ORE International is an ideal choice for dividing office space, bedroom sections, or areas of a studio apartment. Ready to use instantly, the piece is crafted from four hinged rectangles, each framed in wood with black veneer and divided into panes by slender lines. White rice paper panels create privacy while allowing light to filter, while the lovely black and red plum blossom print with Japanese characters softens the linear design with an organic grace. Easy to place, arrange, and move, the screen folds flat when not in use and measures 60 inches wide by 10w x 70.5"h .

Oriental Furniture 6 ft. Tall Double Sided Japanese Figures Room Divider
Oriental Furniture 6 ft. Tall Double Sided Japanese Figures Room Divider

Japanese figural scene on tall screen. 71" Tall x 15.75" Wide x 5/8" Thick Panels - About 6ft.Tall x 3.5ft. Wide Opened as Shown


Traditional Japanese Methods

Types of Shoji Installations

There are many different ways to install shoji in your home. When designing your shoji, think carefully about traffic patterns and who will be opening and closing the screens. Remember that being able to move the shoji gives you control over light and view. Design your screens to maximize both.

1. Sliding. This is the traditional Japanese method. The rails of the shoji are rabeted to form ridges that fit into tracks (dados) at top and bottom. Rabeting enables the screens to have a minimum of passing clearance without reducing the amount of wood between the dados. The lower track groove is shallower (1/8" is enough) than the top and supports the entire weight of the screen as it moves. The upper track groove, at least twice the depth of the lower to allow easy removal, serves only to keep the screen vertical. Because the entire screen is supported from below, and not from the side as with a Western-style hinged door, the frame needs only a minimum of structural reinforcement.

A modern alternative to this sliding mode calls for a wheel in a housing to be mortised into the bottom rail of the shoji. The groove in the wheel runs on a metal track that is mounted on the floor or threshold. An omnidirectional caster can also be used in an inlaid hardwood track. The rolling action of the wheel or caster eliminates the friction of wood-to-wood contact in the bottom track.

Such an installation is suited to very large panels and to panels that contain glass, thick plastic sheeting, or other heavy materials. It also works well in high-traffic areas where the screens have to operate quickly. The top is a simple tenon/rabet and dado.

You Can Build Your Very Own - excerpt from the book

Finding just the right book to teach me how to make something as lovely as a folding screen is so satisfying! This is one of those times. Using your creativity to make your own screen saves money and earns real bragging rights.

Shoji: How to Design, Build, and Install Japanese Screens
Shoji: How to Design, Build, and Install Japanese Screens

Japanese-style shoji screens are translucent, wooden-lattice panels that subtly transform light and space and add an elegant touch to any decor. I like that they let light through while providing a sense of privacy and intimacy.


Double-Action Hinges for Folders - use these brass hinges for the shoji screens you make at home

Isn't it fun to take the best of a traditional design, and modify it to suit your abilities and needs! Japanese didn't usually use hinges on their screens, but we can do it and celebrate the ease of construction.

If you decide to use hinges with yours, here are some ready for the picking.

Save & Build & Decorate Your Own Screens

Are you ready to try your hand at building a screen of your choice?

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Sumi Painting Explained - sumi painting is simpler and more complex than you'd guess

Get Ready for Some Sumi Strokes - sumis is easy and fun and paper's cheap

Are You Ready - to get a Kit, do some strokes, and paint up your shoji screen?

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Do you Like Shoji Style Screens?

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    • lesliesinclair profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @smine27: What has always caused me to wonder is how whole multi-generational families can live in a home with paper walls without becoming embroiled in one another's private affairs.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 

      4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I used to live in an apartment with built-in shoji screens that divided the rooms. I love the calm and serenity that shoji screens somehow give.

    • kathysart profile image


      6 years ago

      Ohh YES! When we move I hope to get some. We decorate in Japanese except for my paintings so it would be so nice to get some.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      I love folding screens. You have certainly featured some lovely one here.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      I think shoji style screens are so beautiful, but I like anything Japanese.


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