August 24, 2012

DECORATING WITH FOLDING SCREENS


FOLDING SCREEN'S OR ROOM DIVIDERS FOR YOUR INTERIORS
  • Got something you wanna hide?
  • Got creepy neighbors looking at you bathing? 
  • Got an empty corner? 
  • Can't keep trees alive indoors? 
  • Got a direct view to your toilet from your dining table? 
  • Got an architectural detail you're too cheap to correct properly? 
  • Got a big-ass living room you wanna break up visually? 
  • Got a skanky kitchen and wanna hide it from view?

SCREENS
Use a Room Divider or Folding Screen!

Screens can be used in so many different ways! They can be made from many different materials, e.g. wood, wallpapered panels, decoupaged panels, papier mache', louvered shutters, upholstered fabric panels, gilded wood, mirrors, etc.
I do love a room with a great quality (not some cheap-shit one from a furniture store) Japanese Edo Period or Chinese Coromandel screen or, a 17th Century, hand-painted leather Dutch folding screen. The Edo screens are still fairly reasonable, the Coromandel and Dutch ones are quite expensive.

In eighth-century Japan, folding screens, or byōbu, were used in interiors to prevent the winds from blowing up their kimonos. By the 18th century homes were better-insulated, the screens were used as dressing room partitions or simply for decorative purposes. In the Golden Age of Hollywood they became iconic as coy actresses (in black-and-white films) would slither behind them, draping their glamorous satiny and fur-trimmed ensembles over the screens...making the theaters all steamy...

In the 1980's and 90's every schmancy-pants New York, Beverly Hills and Dallas living room had a Coromandel screen behind the sofa. It was the "Oh yeah, we're rich" item of choice for twenty years. Today they need to be used carefully so as not to harken back to those decadent "Bonfire of the Vanities" days.
However, you don't have to have a "grand" house or apartment to use one of the types of screens I've shown here.
If you have a certain textile you'd like to introduce to your current scheme, but don't need anymore upholstery, add a 3-panel screen in the corner, it can add texture, height and interest to your room. Are you a tree-killer? You just cant keep an indoor tree alive to save your life? Then consider a screen where you need the height of the tree.


ADDING INTEREST

(CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTO'S)
EXAMPLE #1 An upholstered screen in a rockin' fabric with a shaped top can be totally pee-in-your-pants chic! This one below by Washington designer Fiona Weeks is amazingly successful at sleuthfully covering unattractive windows and adding verticality to a room with eight foot ceilings.
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EXAMPLE #2 Sometimes a multiple-panel screen can be a substitute focal point. Is your nasty McMansion void of any architectural interest? Long, boring-ass walls can be made interesting by having a screen made which may go from one end to the other, or just four panels, centered. A screen can even cover a doorway which isn't used; be the defining element between spaces in a rented home; create a place to put the sofa, piano, etc. This screen below by Thomas Pheasant shows his genius using neutral palates and creating depth, height and architectural interest simultaneously.
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EXAMPLE #3 (Below) Scott Snyder of Palm Beach used this Coromandel screen (top photo) in an apartment as a substitute for a fireplace. Coromandel screens are truly lovely, often subtly colored adding tremendous warmth and glamour to a room. Often in these missives I'll give you a resource for a knockoff or look-alike.... however, there are NO reproduction Coromandel screens worth a shit, only antique ones will do. If this is your desired look, just shut up and get off your wallet and spend the money.....
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EXAMPLE #4 This mirrored screen brings light to an otherwise dark area of this contemporary room. The ribbed mirror doesn't create reflections or clutter, only light and texture .. perfect for this contemporary room! I also believe that a room with windows on more than one wall are best. A mirrored screen can "imply" another window quite successfully.
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EXAMPLE #5 These swanky-assed mirrored screens have a greater purpose than just being decorative...oh yeah...they reflect light and they give the illusion of more space by via optical illusion. AND, most importantly you can see yourself from all over the room....gotta love that..
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UTILITARIAN SCREENS
EXAMPLE #1 Screens don't always have to be used for room dividers, they can be used to hide small areas as well. Below is a small screen that hides the firebox of this fireplace out of season. I've also used short upholstered screens to hide radiators (in or out of season) which is also a good use for Japanese screens as they tend to be short and wide.
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EXAMPLE #2 In a rental cottage I own there is a long combined living & dining room with the open kitchen off to the side. Once everything was installed, I felt the kitchen was too exposed to the living area (which most people like, oddly). I easily handled that issue with a $279 louvered mahogany screen from Pier-1!! I know, I know, I'm such a freekin' genius....
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EXAMPLE #3 This upholstered screen below is called a "Memento screen." It can be in any fabric and they're easy to use and change the objects you display without breaking your acrylic nails.
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IN THE BEDROOM
EXAMPLE #1 Screens can be used as headboards too. Below are lovely ethnically inspired rooms; the wood-tones look warm and the screens fit behind the beds properly! Just make sure they're not wider than the bed itself .... if they do, it looks like you have a king-size headboard behind a queen-sized bed, or vice-versa. That's most definitely stupid looking...trust me.
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EXAMPLE #2 This rockin' custom-made screen performs as a headboard, and is wayyyy HOT! It's awesome for several reasons: It creates some privacy and it provides a place to put the bed in an otherwise wall-less room! I totally love the free-standing bedside tables with lamps with them too which makes it look like a screen and not an upholstered headboard. It just looks sooo uber-luxe and enveloping -- which is what a bed is supposed to feel like, aiight???
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This collage shows four types of screens used in bedrooms Syrian-Rajah / French decoupage / hand-tooled leather / Coromandel

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CONTEMPORARY SCREENS
EXAMPLE #1 When you say folding screen or room divider, often people conjure up Victorian images. You know the type...the ones with pictures decoupaged on them of pissy little Spaniels sitting on fancy pillows surrounded by floral garlands. Or worse; fancy, delicately carved gilded frames with beveled glass panes in the top section and silk upholstered panels in a nasty floral pattern on the bottom.... Oh Hell No! Let that shit sit in an Antique Mini-Mall somewhere west of I-95! Below are some very cool modern screens which would work well in a small apartment or a contemporary home. The awesome, custom-made room divider with the large driftwood branches could separate a huge loft-type space, retaining the openness but establishing "areas."
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