Add Shoji Room Dividers to break up space with a Light, Minimalist, & Zen Flow.
Source: Dennis Mayer – Photographer
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Are you looking to add dramatic impact and an Oriental feel to your space? Consider the organic feel and Zen vibes offered by Japanese sliding doors.
Japanese sliding doors, or Shoji as they are locally known, are a standard feature in Japanese homes and are still popular today. These sliding doors usually serve as a door, window, or room divider.
These beautiful structures consist of a wooden frame containing a wooden or bamboo lattice filled with translucent paper.
They are famous across the globe for their function and style. However, as the style flourished worldwide, the trend for dark wooden lattice sliding doors changed and became more functional for colder and more dramatic climates.
For example, the traditionally used paper is called washi, but contemporary Japanese sliding doors can contain more modernly made paper, frosted glass, and sometimes plastic. Instead of bamboo, more accessible and affordable locally sourced woods and even plastics are used to help achieve a similar look.
In Western homes, wooden sliding doors without handles are popular in contemporary homes with sleek and stylish interiors. Internal sliding doors aren’t expensive or time-consuming to install, and they can make a vast difference to the layout of your home, instantly providing you with more light, openness, and floor space.
Regardless of the changing times, the introductory track system of the doors remains the same through time.
You won’t be alone if you add Japanese sliding doors to your home. While still widely associated with Japanese architecture, these sliding doors are becoming more prevalent in Western-style houses because of their simple elegance and beauty.
Source: Oriental Furniture 7 ft. Tall Eudes Shoji Sliding Door Kit (Double-Sided) – Rosewood (See on Amazon)Sliding doors bring a very informal touch into a home if used as internal doors. When open, they are seen as welcoming, like two open arms, which is a pleasant feeling to provide to guests and family members in your home. However, that welcoming feature can be closed off in only a few seconds by sliding the door shut. This allows house areas to be kept private without appearing obtrusive, isolated, or secretive.
Great for Semi-Open Concept Floor Plans
Japanese sliding doors will also provide a temporary “open concept living” style. Open-concept living is more than an interior design style. It is a complete lifestyle overhaul and often requires structural changes to a home with traditional separate living, kitchen, and dining areas to make the open home plan and combine these rooms.
Source: Feinmann, Inc.
Their efficiency and varying functions match the beauty of these gorgeous Japanese sliding doors. Generally, a traditional Japanese house has very few permanent interior walls. To this end, these sliding doors serve as moveable inside walls and save space with their sliding movement because that movement saves space within the room that would be rendered unusable by the girth required by a swinging door.
Source: Oriental Furniture 7 ft. Tall Cherry Blossom Shoji Sliding Door Kit – Black (See on Amazon)
With sliding doors, you can expand the space between each room and share light and decorations. Still, you will continue to have the option to close the doors between each room when you want a more private enclosure or if you wish to hide kitchen messes from guests you’re entertaining in living or dining spaces.
Source: Oriental Furniture 4 ft. Tall Window Pane Shoji Screen – Honey – 8 Panels (See on Amazon)
If you’re considering switching to an open-concept home in the future, Japanese sliding doors or room dividers are a great inexpensive, temporary option.
Source: Merz & Thomas Design/Builders
Sliding doors on the exterior of your home can help promote an indoor-outdoor living style in your home. If you have a beautiful garden that you love to spend time in or you’d like to enjoy it more often alone or with friends and family, opening up Japanese doors gives much more open access to the garden and a very visible walkway into the outdoors.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a sunny climate, keep the doors to your garden open to encourage your family to spend more time dining and socializing outside.
Source: Oriental Furniture 7 ft. Tall Bamboo Tree Shoji Sliding Door Kit – Honey (See on Amazon)
Another aspect of classical Japanese construction is shōji used as exterior walls, windows, dividers, and interior doors. The sliding doors serve as excellent windows, helping to bring the lovely outdoors inside in pleasant weather.
Source: Oriental Furniture 3 ft. Tall Window Pane Shoji Screen – Walnut – 3 Panels (See on Amazon)
However, the use of these doors as exterior walls is mainly absent in more modern construction. Think security and energy efficiency, neither of which are qualities of the thin wood and paper.
But when used as interior room dividers, they do well to alter the size and use of various rooms in a home, creating a new space with the simple slide of a Japanese room divider.
Source: Oriental Furniture 4 ft. Tall Bamboo Lantern Room Divider (See on Amazon)
Shōji also makes fascinating doors for closets, pantries, and smaller rooms or spaces, adding an unexpectedly chic element to a usually mundane space.
To Buy or D.I.Y.?
You have some options for adding this design element to your own home. Pre-made Japanese sliding door kits are readily available and installed with relative ease. Depending on your comfort level with D.I.Y. projects, this can be done by a contractor or by you. If you are frugal and handy, you can build these doors yourself.
To Build Japanese Slide Doors Yourself
First, research and plan your desired shōji design.
Second, gather your tools, which usually include a tape measure, a carpenter square, a level, a drill, a Kreg jig, a utility knife, a table saw, and a chop saw. (While this is a general list of tools typically used, you may substitute alternate means if you are knowledgeable and handy.)
Next, decide upon and gather your chosen materials, which usually include wood, translucent paper or sheet plastic (or even corrugated plastic), a sliding door kit, and small screws.
Once your materials are gathered, you’ll make your frame, install the lattice pieces, stain the wood (if desired), add the paper or plastic within the frame, and then hang the door. And voila—beautiful, serene doors for virtually any desired space in your home.
However, you choose to create your Japanese sliding doors, know that you’re adding a unique design element that will set your space apart from the standard home.