Using a Shoji Screen as a Window Treatment

If you are in the market for a new window treatment, a wonderfully unique idea is to use a shoji screen. A shoji screen is a simple and clean wood frame that has insert panels in it. The lattice work that holds the panels are known as kumiko.


Shoji screens are often associated with Japanese culture, although they actually originated in China sometime around since the 8th century AD. They were picked up by the Japanese shortly after, who used them as doors, room dividers, and privacy screens. Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, popularized shoji screens in the United States as he brought the idea back from Japan and used them in his designs.


There is a certain philosophy that is associated with the design and use of shoji screens, which is owed to the Japanese culture. Yin and yang is a desired element in this culture, which is seen in the construction of the screens with their airy and light linings and dark wooden frame. The Japanese love of clean and simple aesthetic is also reflected in the screens. An individual who has these screens is required to move more gracefully, and use a careful touch so as to not damage the delicate fixtures.

The aesthetic appeal of having a shoji screen as a window treatment is in the beauty of viewing shadows and outdoor images such as a tree branch or a snowfall through the delicate screen. The lattices may have a functional purpose with the structure that they provide, but they also have a sense of elegance to them.

Materials and Construction

The material that shoji screens panels are constructed out of is often rice paper that has either been laminated or not. The panel material can also be placed in between plastic or glass. Lamination allows the screen to be easily cleaned and makes it more durable. For even more durability, you can order fiberglass screening material, manufactured to have a similar texture to rice paper.

The papers can also be ordered in different colors or patterns. These options allow you to use the screen as a complimentary decorative element in any room.

Many different types of woods are available for the screen frame. Cedar, cherry, maple, fir, spruce, and beechwood are just some of the choices. The wood is typically lacquered to provide strength. The wood you choose can complement the other woods you’re using in the room with the screen.
If you will be using shoji screens in front of your windows you want to be able to move them. That way, you can use them to cover the window when you want some privacy or just to enjoy the beauty of the screen. You will then be able to move them to let more light in. Or you can then open your window to let breezes into your home.

You can use either folding screens or put the screens on a track. For tracking, you add upper and lower tracks made of either wood or metal.

If you want to go the folding route, different options are available. For smaller sized screens, you can use a simple two-fold screen. For a large window, or when using the screen as a room divider, you may want to go to a larger, eight-fold screen.

All these options allow you to adapt your screens to nearly any window shape, even the most unconventional ones.


You can most likely find shoji screens at your local interior design store, or if you already know the size you want, you can find and order them online. If you’re handy, you may even want to build one as a DIY project.

Beautiful, light, and functional, a shoji screen makes a unique and wonderful window treatment.

Posted in: Window Treatments

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