Decorative Folding Screen Room Divider Ideas

Historians credit the Chinese with creating the first decorative folding screens, but the Japanese elevated the screen to a work of art. After the introduction of decorative screens to the West during early trading missions, they quickly became must-haves in European homes. Folding room divider screens lend themselves to uses well beyond the decorative.

Make It Permanent

Folding screens are decorative and utilitarian.

Add drama to a large room with a high ceiling by installing a sliding barn door track at the top of the wall over an arched doorway or broad entrance. Attach barn door rollers to the tops of the screens so they open and close like accordion doors. This method also works to divide a large room, so that part can be blocked off or opened to accommodate large or small gatherings of guests, or to create an impromptu guest bedroom. To carry the elegant design further, have furniture-quality enclosures built on the wall to hide the folding screens when they're open.


Typically, freestanding folding room dividers have three panels supported by short legs. The panels may be made of wood, covered in fabric or made from rice paper, as Japanese shoji screens are constructed. While the screens are attractive additions to any room, they also can do double duty as functional pieces of furniture. A screen with cork board in place of wood or fabric serves as a message center or an extra bulletin board in an office. A chalkboard screen in the family room with a tray added for chalk gives kids a creative outlet when it's not being used to divide the room. Hang artwork on a sturdy folding room divider, or train plants to climb the screen in a sunroom.

Make a Statement

A plain folding room divider is a blank canvas waiting for creativity. Mirrored screens reflect the rooms around them, making them appear larger, especially when placed opposite another mirror, so the effect is one of multiple rooms stretching into infinity. In the bedroom, a mirrored screen can add a romantic touch. Fabric coverings, such as a delicate floral for a French country bedroom or a solid color for an ultra-modern living room, blend in with the decor. Artist's canvas stretched in the panels of the screen is an invitation to paint.


Folding room dividers lend themselves to multiple uses. An efficiency apartment typically has no separate bedroom, but a folding screen can create a sense of privacy. A bedroom without an en suite bath probably doesn't have a dressing room, but a screen arranged in the corner creates one. Children approaching their teen years who share a bedroom might benefit from the suggestion a privacy screen between their beds affords. An unsightly spot in a basement family room, such as a circuit breaker box or a structural column, becomes a focal point when covered by an attractive screen.

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.