Folding screens were first popular in ancient China, used to display superior taste in painting and craft. Europe began importing them in the 18th and 19th centuries, where they became a decorative feature of ladies’ dressing rooms, providing privacy as well as high style.
The modern folding screen has more of a practical role: these lightweight partitions are handy for casual storage, dividing space, or hiding clutter. Decoration is still an important part of the function though; and a screen can be quick way to update a bedroom, provide an area of interest, or act as a backdrop for a favourite furniture piece.
1. Cox & Cox Rattan and Wood Screen: £150, Cox & Cox
This dressing screen makes a light and airy addition to the bedroom. It’s made from rattan and paulownia wood (a type of fast growing hardwood), and has been treated naturally to suit rustic interiors. Natural looks make this screen a good fit for the conservatory too, although strong sun can bleach certain materials over time. It measures 132cm wide and 170cm tall.
2. Sweetpea & Willow Isabelle Mirrored Screen: £435, Sweetpea & Willow
If you’ve always imagined your bedroom as more of a boudoir, this lavish screen has the luxe feel and finish of a French antique. The three panels are mirrored and feature decorative frames in distressed wood. At 210cm by 144cm, this screen is generously sized. But its weight (46kg) makes it best for a permanent spot, rather than something to move easily around the house.
3. Arthouse Mystical Forest Room Divider: £99, JD Williams
Arthouse is a Manchester-based interiors company with a whimsical taste in patterns. The one covering this screen is from the Enchanted range, and boasts exotic birds, butterflies and foliage that are ideal for a tropical theme. JD Williams stocks a number of the designs, and some come with a matching range of wallpaper and cushions to boot. At 150cm tall, it’s on the petite side.
4. Artisanti Cupro Copper Web Room Divider: £179, Amazon
This screen won’t save your modesty – the mostly transparent panels are clearly for decoration rather than concealment. The three 183cm-tall panels are finished in brilliant copper, with an abstract web of wires as infill. Use it to create more intimate spaces within a larger room – a place for reading perhaps – or to make an interesting backdrop to a favourite furniture piece.
5. Maisons Du Monde Oslo Printed Fabric Folding Screen: £83.99, Maisons Du Monde
At first this modern folding screen looks like it’s wood criss-crossed with ribbons of white fabric. Look closely though and you’ll see it’s actually a clever geometric print that mimics wood grain; a feature that keeps the piece affordable and lightweight. At 180cm, the Oslo screen is taller than average – a great fit for bedrooms and studies with traditional high ceilings.
6. Freedom Homestores Tokyo Room Divider: £49.95, Freedom Homestores
This Japanese-style screen is made of traditional wood and rice paper. There’s a great choice of finishes for the low price – it comes in natural, dark, cream or black finishes, and there is a four-panel option too. The lightweight materials and hinge design make packing away the Tokyo easy when it’s not in use. The rice paper is delicate though, and requires care when handling.
7. Eichholtz Duchamp Small Folding Screen: £755, Houseology
This screen by luxury brand Eichholtz is a real treat for the bedroom or dressing room. The four panels are upholstered in velvet and detailed with prominent burnished metal studs. Made by craftsmen, each screen is unique and has the feel of something tailored to you. The small version is 120cm high and costs £775, with a larger version at 180cm available too (£955).
8. Maisons Du Monde Rajasthan Wooden Folding Screen: £240, Maisons Du Monde
The sloping panel heights of this Indian-inspired room divider are its most unusual feature. This, together with the light grey finish and delicate fretwork on the panels, helps the bulk of the screen disappear. The frame is mango wood but the panels are MDF. At 182cm by 152cm, it’s a decent size for the price, and would make a good decorative addition to the bedroom
9. Ikea Jassa Rattan Room Divider: £45, Ikea
From Ikea’s limited edition summer collection, the Jassa room divider is a budget screen made from rattan and finished in clear varnish. With a rustic feel and natural materials, this range is designed for indoors but inspired by sunny climes. The screen is fairly basic in construction, but would suit lightweight use in the bedroom, or screening off clutter in the conservatory.
The rattan and wood screen from Cox and Cox is top pick for versatility. Its neutral looks and natural materials mean it can be put to use almost anywhere in the home. The sensible price and decent construction mark it out as top pick too.
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