How to Design With Shoji Wall Panels


You can design with shoji wall panels in a variety of ways, including using the traditional Japanese latticed wooden frames with translucent white paper panes to define permanent spaces and adjustable spaces, or to create smaller dimensions for boxes, fixtures and windows. Consider the possible benefits and drawbacks of diverse shoji wall panels, also called shoji screens or simply shoji, for your desired visual and practical effect. Evaluate buying or building the shoji wall panels and integrating the planned design with other Japanese elements.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoji photos
  • Shoji designs
  • Camera
  • Tape measure
  • Graph paper
  • Large sheet
  • Study the advantages and disadvantages of shoji wall panels before designing the space. Consider both the desired function of the shoji screens and their aesthetics as well as the possible obstruction of movement, view or light. Look at photos and designs of existing shoji to guide you as you measure, draw and design.

  • Consider using permanent shoji wall panels. Permanent panels usually slide on top and bottom tracks. You can design shoji entry doors, interior doors, closet doors, room dividers, and walls. Measure and calculate carefully when planning permanent shoji design. Use a camera to photograph the space to clarify its visual elements, use a tape measure to measure the space, draw out the design on graph paper, and test how the shoji will impact the space by holding up a large sheet or sheets to simulate the shoji screen.

  • Think about adjustable shoji wall panels. Design an adjustable space using folding shoji screens to hide clutter, transform a room into a bedroom by night or a workspace by day, shield meditation areas, make instant guest rooms, divide dining and cooking areas, or separate individual workspaces. Consider folding the shoji flat for easy storage when not in use. Fold a piece of paper to visualize how the shoji screen will work.

  • Design smaller shoji pieces by using reduced versions of the shoji wall panels singly or connected together in various formations. Consider small panels of shoji design for windows or cabinet doors. Draw up plans for small folding shoji screens to diffuse light shining on plants or other light-sensitive treasures. Concoct boxes for storage, lampshades, or skylights. Engineer an open-sided shoji box for art objects.

  • Evaluate making or buying your own shoji wall panels. You’ll need woodworking skills including sawing, planing, chiseling or routing, layout, and joinery to build a shoji design of frame, lattice, and panes. Alternatively, you might buy prefabricated shoji wall panels, have them custommade, or assemble the shoji design from a kit.

  • Decide if you wish to incorporate other Japanese elements into the shoji-defined space. Add tatami mats, Japanese furniture, and shoji lamps for a traditional Japanese look. Or integrate minimalist Western style furnishings with the shoji design.

  • Choose which shoji wall panel pieces will work best for you practically and aesthetically, and develop your final designs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider non-traditional materials such as fabric, fiberglass, or glass for the panes of the shoji wall panels.
  • Vary your design with varieties of wood and paint for the frame and lattice of your shoji.
  • Evaluate if the addition of shoji screens to divide your space feels too confining.
  • Look to see if the planned shoji wall panel matches the existing aesthetic style of the intended space.

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  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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