Folding Screens Do Double Duty & More

It has just been announced that designer Michael Smith has been selected by the Obama's as the decorator for the White House so I wanted to include an example of how this hugely talented designer has used screens in his work.

"Pheasants Under Cherry And Willow Trees," is an exceptional folding screen on gold leaf paper from the 1600's, and a beautiful example as we consider folding screens as elements of interior design.

Seen above, the Scott Fitzgerald Suite at the Ritz Paris Hotel hosts a beautiful painted folded screen; elegantly finishing off a corner of this distinguished room, it exemplifies how folding screens can serve as pieces of moveable art.

Folding screens are perhaps limitless in serving as interior design elements. They finish off corners as shown at the Paris Ritz, they screen off and hide storage areas, or as they have been used for centuries in Japanese homes, screens can add important areas of privacy.

It is believed that in Japan screens achieved their full aesthetic potential as important aspects of interior decoration. The resource center of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art tells us that screens originated in China, and that later as folding screens they entered Japan as gifts from the Korean Silla kingdom in 686 C.E.

During the late 16th century the use of a gold foil background for painted screens became extremely popular, allowing the owner to display his wealth and status, and serving a practical purpose as well. In late medieval Japan the construction of stone fortifications made the bright effect of the metallic panels an asset in dark castles.

Japanese homes, whether they were house, temple, or palace, had few permanent interior walls - as much as possible, interior space dividers were kept movable. Folding screens were used as temporary space dividers since they are relatively lightweight, easily folded to portable size and easy to move or store away. In addition, they were used to create private areas in- or out-of-doors, as gifts, as backgrounds for concerts or dancing, and as backdrops for important ceremonies, including Buddhist and other rites. Further:

"When decorated with a painting, a screen also became an object for visual pleasure and a symbol of the owner's wealth and power. And, check this out - screens were usually made to suit the needs and tastes of a particular individual."

Below, the Folding Screen by Proulx shows how a screen can nicely divide between two distinct functioning areas. We see first a dining area with a beautiful mahogany table and apple green upholstered chairs, the screen also giving off an elegant show of light and shadows. On the other side, is a office work area, with a great combination of textured design pieces including a dramatic rug. While screens can help hide the harried work space - which in many home offices is a vital screen need - here the decorative folding screen is merely an alternate, but moveable, wall.

Here are some tips on using a folding screen as an interior design element:

* For larger spaces a room divider can create two cozy rooms within one big space (i.e., add a dressing area to your bedroom by sectioning it off with a room divider).

* A room divider that is used kitty corner can double as storage space between the screen and the wall.

* A painted scenic room divider can be like a huge painting in the corner of your room.

* Need to hide the kids toys? Put a folding screen divider in the corner and just shove the toys behind it!

* A unique use of a room divider is to use it as a headboard.

* A room divider makes a perfect backdrop for plants.

Let your inspiration guide you as you use folding screens creating beauty and function in your home.

Incorporating folding screens as moveable art, or as a cozy room divider can sometimes be a challenge. If you are in need of some professional interior design assistance, our Directory of Designers can help you locate a professional in your area. Working with an interior designer helps assure you get the look you desire while helping eliminate costly mistakes.

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