How to Add “Zen” to Your Home with a Shoji Screen

shoji screen 2013Have you ever tried to describe the word “Zen?” Think about it; is it a noun, a verb or an adjective? Is it an attitude, a discipline, or a trend? When you think about how to “add” Zen to your home, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Hint: if you’re trying to come up with the right answer, there isn’t one. Zen is both subjective and objective simultaneously. When applied to home décor it is one of the hardest styles to define, particularly among Americans who have a hard time grasping its simplicity.

Why is Zen so ubiquitous when it is seems so inconspicuous? Well, technically it isn’t a style, a philosophy or a religion. A more accurate description would be to call it a state of being. Often confused with Asian décor, Zen originated in India and is one of the branches of Buddhism. Some practitioners describe Zen as a practice of mindfulness and a state of emptiness that allows one to obtain enlightenment, but it transcends a single activity and becomes more of a lifestyle. This is often expressed in one’s home environment. Objects such as Shoji screens are often used to create the “Zen style” and give the home an authentic Japanese look.

How can you achieve a Zen style with Shoji screens?

Appearance: Get the look of Japanese décor by adding a decorative Shoji screen. In addition to the traditional translucent white panes against a wooden frame, some screens feature popular Japanese artwork. Either way, they promote a theme of meditation that helps to lighten the mind at the end of a long day.

Energy Flow: Shoji screens are best used in spaces where one wants to achieve a free flow of energy in the home. This “flow” creates the look and feel of mobility while blocking off distractions. Translucent rice paper screens also foster a light and airy atmosphere in which energy can flow freely throughout the room.

Organic Materials: The natural materials used to make Shoji screens add to the organic nature of the Zen lifestyle. Basic and natural woods are paired with natural fibers such as rice paper to keep your home environment free from synthetic or man-made materials.

Seclusion: Privacy is an important part of practicing the Zen lifestyle because so much of it includes meditation. Even if you’re not meditating regularly, the privacy function of a Shoji screen creates an aura of solitude that unclutters the mind.

Simplicity: Perhaps the most recognizable design element of Zen décor is simplicity. While American decorators are often adding more “stuff” to the interior landscape, Zen designers prefer to keep furnishings as basic as possible. In small spaces, this may mean blocking off cluttered work areas to give the living space a “lighter” look.

While it’s true that Zen style can be achieved in many ways, the Shoji screen has long been a staple of this decorating style. In fact, they have long been considered the “secret weapon” of the nation’s top designers. It’s not necessary to be a Zen Buddhist or even inspired by Asian décor to use these screens in your home. These artistic creations can be used as a simple solution for dividing your space.

The best known Shoji dividers are the standard dark wood paned frame, paired with translucent rice paper panes, but this is just a fraction of what’s available today. Handcrafted Japanese Shoji room dividers are made in a variety of creative designs, including Japanese woodblock prints, floral watercolors and subtle patterns.

Shoji doors are a bit different in that they are designed to be hung in an opening between rooms and slide on tracks like a closet door. No matter which Shoji screen you choose, it will add a touch of Zen to your décor while offering the private space you crave.

Homeowners are not the only ones to find shoji dividers useful. They are also used in contemporary office spaces, restaurants and hotel lobbies. Some upscale designers choose the ambience of Japanese décor over the hard-edged corporate look that was popularized in the late 20th Century. Zen décor and attention to detail makes an office suite so much more comfortable and inviting. Decorating for a new office reception area? Just a few low profile sofas, a dark wood table, an elegant floral arrangement, Japanese prints and Shoji screens are all you need to create a sophisticated look.

When purchasing Shoji dividers and doors online, check out the selection available at You will find the highest quality authentic Japanese Zen decor at this popular online store.

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