The panels in shoji screens bring a geometric element to a room.

How to Decorate With Shoji Screens Behind Your Bed

by Christina Ash

Traditionally used in Japanese homes, shoji screens add minimalist and geometric style to any décor. Moving beyond their traditional use as room dividers, placing shoji screens behind your bed is an elegant and cost-effective way to create a headboard that can either be the focal point of the room or blend into the background. You just have to make a few design decisions to fully utilize these versatile items.

Bedroom Decor

A first step is to ask yourself what kind of decor you want or have in your bedroom. While shoji screens lend themselves to an Asian or Asian-influenced design style, the minimalism and geometry of their design also works well in contemporary interior design styles. Contemporary styles are usually quite sparse, featuring just one or two well-chosen objects in a narrow range of colors. Alternatively, you can use shoji screens in much busier and vibrant interior decors, where they introduce oases of calm.

Focal Point of Room

Shoji screens are quite large, so you should decide if you want your screen to be the focal point of the room or to blend in with the wall behind it. As the focal point, the screen will also draw attention to the bed and the bed coverings, so these need to be worthy of people's attention: crisp bed linens, color-coordinated with the rest of the room and with interesting textures. Needless to say, you should also keep your bed made. Alternatively, for the shoji screens to blend into the room, paint the wall in the same light color as the frame of the screen and the shoji paper.


If you've chosen to make the shoji screens the focal point of your bedroom, place them so they fill the entire wall behind your bed, and paint the frame of the screens a contrasting color to the wall to make them really stand out. Mounting a single screen horizontally across the wall in a single line just above the height of the bed allows the screen to blend into the room. As an alternative, if you have room on the wall on either side of the bed, use one shoji screen on either side to frame the bed.

Enhancing the Screen

You can add your own touches to a shoji screen, in keeping with its low-key look or to introduce some color. Adding rectangles of textured Japanese paper in the same pale color as the shoji paper to the screen adds an additional design element, as does gluing on dried leaves, especially from structurally interesting plants such as eucalyptus. Add some shine by attaching the silver and gold centers of joss paper or pieces of translucent paper in jewel colors and then winding a string of small white lights around the frame.

About the Author

Christina Ash has been writing since 1982, throughout her career as a computer consultant, anthropologist and small-business owner. She has published work in various business, technology, academia and popular books and journals. Ash has degrees in computer science, anthropology and science and technology studies from universities in England, Canada and the United States.

Photo Credits

  • Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images