Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Screen

Photo courtesy Flickr

A freestanding folding screen of multiple panels was a staple in many a Victorian room. Screens, I understand, were swept away when “modernism” revised twentieth century spaces. Hipsters kept the odd nineteenth-century example out of a landfill. Sweetly utilitarian folding metal hospital screens still show up now and then.

Last year I picked up an ordinary retail freestanding Japanese shoji screen to see if it would improve privacy and daylighting in my 1890 house. The thing has been a champ. I  shift it from room to room as circumstances suggest. The light weight structure is trivial to reconfigure, and it amplifies space in ways that are hard to verbalize.

The old view of screens was that they simply complicated housekeeping. Taping magical teflon sliders to the bottom of the panels and dusting the delicate wood with a high-tech synthetic wand is a small price to pay for the elegance I gain.


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