They've been around for such a long time you might wonder if Fred Flintstone invented the folding screen?
Or did some cousin of his have the idea while sheltering out of the wind behind a large rock? Or maybe when they were looking for some privacy behind a large, leafy bush?
Not likely says Wikipaedia - it reckons the ancient Chinese take the credit for the invention. Mind you, some of their screens were of Stone Age dimensions - heavy in design and build and not very movable.
Cue the clever Japanese - making the panels from paper or silk made the screens lighter and very mobile. Eventually, screens became an important part of Japanese culture. Wow! - there is even a museum of folding screens in Tokyo!
Today, modern patterns are less intricate but they still have the same basic elegance.
We feature the plain black and white room divider in this post in homage to those early Orientals.
There is a choice of five attractive screens that are simple in design but are not overly costly. Good enough for Coco Chanel? - the French fashionista was an avid collector of Chinese screens - well, perhaps not!
Besides being collectible by people who have too much money, screens have a more practical side and are useful around the house.
They can provide privacy, divide a space or create a private area. They are a barrier, a draft excluder, a decorative piece, a modesty panel and a partition. And they're pretty good at concealing clutter for the less tidy among us! And you must have some place to stick your Post-Its in your home office!
One ingenious buyer uses her screen as a backdrop for her YouTube channel! Another has it as a sun screen and yet another uses it as a replacement for drapes - smart people!
Our selection was chosen for their usefulness, pleasing appearance and their classic Oriental look. This combination makes for a piece that has many practical applications while being a decorative addition to any room. And all this comes at no great cost which was an important factor in our final choice.
Each panel has a plain white background fitted to black-stained wooden frames connected by brass-finished hinges.
The frame is 71 inches high by 18 inches wide. This gives a stable stretch when standing of just over four feet according to reviewers. The stacked height is only about 4 inches making it easy and quick to store in tight spaces.
It's very portable at only 12lbs and comes boxed and fully assembled for instant use.
This tri-fold screen is hugely popular with those who bought it and they consider it really good value for money.
The 3-panel Shoji screen is printed on one side with a bamboo motif in a black finish.
The frame is made from solid timber and the panels are HD rice paper. Reviewers say that it is well made and sturdy enough for what it is. It comes fully assembled in a box ready for use.
Each panel is 18 inches wide and 71 inches high with black pivots. It folds flat at under 4 inches and it weighs only 12 lbs.
If living space is tight this is a neat unit that can be stored under most beds when not being used around the house.
The framework of the solid FSC certified rubber-wood folding screen room divider is finished in black. The screen is fitted with double-action brass hinges. This lets the divider fold both ways making it more flexible in use. It's paneled with white translucent rice paper in the classic trestle pattern on one face.
It measures just under 71 inches high and has an fully open width of around 70 inches. The panels are less than 1 inch thick giving a stacking height of about 4 inches. The total weight is about 20 lbs.
This item has very high user ratings (rightly so!) from a considerable number of happy and contented customers who have made the effort to leave a review.
Some of them have been smart in how they're using the screen. One contented buyer uses this fold-up room divider in place of curtains while another buyer uses it to reduce the glare of direct sunlight by gently diffusing the rays through the rice paper.
And this beautiful screen enhances that belief. But it does seem odd then that the characters printed on the screen are Chinese. They are an extract from an early poem written during the Tang dynasty. No matter, the languages are pretty similar anyway.
But in our view the Chinese characters work well within the classic Japanese Shoji lines.
The dark pink blossom contrasts nicely with the black plum branches printed on the white rice paper. Like other models the pattern is printed one side only.
It's a lightweight screen at only 11 lbs but buyers are satisfied that it is sturdy and durable. The panels are 17 x 71 inches and are connected with brassed double acting hinges. It has an open width of around 71 inches.
It's highly rated and admired by users. One ingenious buyer used it to solve her daughter's nightmares. Apparently the girl was soothed by the peaceful aspect of the classical artwork.
If you're looking for a screen that is decorative and functional, this pattern is a must for you.
If you need a big room divider more than you need a decorative screen this baby may solve your problem!
Even though it has bulk, it also has beauty. It's built along the ageless lines of contrasting black wood with white Shoji paper.
Opened, it has a length of around 13 feet from 10 panels about 17 inches each. It weighs in around 20 lbs which helps stability. Like most, this model comes fully assembled.
It's big enough to form a small home office in the corner of a room. Some folks bought this because they had a need for both a long and short screen from time to time. When they need a shorter run, they simply double the panels. Best of both worlds for them!