I snagged this room screen from my coworker Tania’s apartment complex, when I first moved to Miami. My itsy-bitsy studio apartment is rectangular-shaped, and I was planning on purchasing one anyway at Ikea, to divide the room into a living/eat area, and a bedroom. This one was just leaning up against Tania’s neighbor’s door, reading to be taken to Good Will, and she told me to have at it!
Now, this screen was fantastic for many reasons, the primary of which being: it was free. (I live by the old adage, beggars can’t be choosers. Sigh. Okay, I’m done.) The screen was pretty dirty, from being outside, and at one point had had thin paper/linen paneling in the slats of all three panels. But someone had ripped up the paper from the side panels, and little tuffs of white paper/linen/textile (I’m not sure what it is actually made from) stuck out all over the edges. Also, it was black, so it kind of looked (to me) like a jail. And although you might need them in some parts of Miami, I have no need for iron bars in my lovely high-rise apartment!
This is the fabric/paper that was in between those wooden grids. It feels like paper, but when you rip it, it has the fibrous consistency of fabric. When the screen was originally made, it was as if someone took one wooden grid, laid the paper liner on top, then laid another matching wooden grid on the other side and glued them all together. So when someone ripped out the paper, there was an edge of white paper all the way around each individual little wooden rectangle. It needed to be covered up. And I figured the easier way would to just slather the whole thing in gooey white paint.
So that is what I did! I actually already had a smaller can of white paint, and a gazillion cans of spray paint in various colors, but I found about six huuuge cans of Behr paint under my bathroom sink. Most of them were specially-mixed, to match the color of the walls in the main room and in the bathroom, so I didn’t want to mess with those. But, there were two large cans of Ultra Pure White (for the molding), so I “borrowed” one of the cans and used it to paint this monstrosity.
Which, by the way, took forever. Each of those little squares had to be painted front, back, inside top, inside bottom, and both sides. And there were 90 squares per panel. 270 panels total. It took me all day – quite literally. I started painting at 10 a.m. and when I took a break around what I thought was 2 p.m. to answer a phone call, I was informed that it was actually after 4.
Originally, I wanted to leave the middle panel, with its untouched linen paper lining, because I like that the sunlight can come through it. But there was no way to paint the black bars – on both sides of the lining – without getting paint all over the lining, and paint on the lining made it opaque. Plus, the cream of the lining clashed with the white of the paint. At that point, it was getting late and I was tired, so I just slathered the whole thing in paint.
To be honest, I’m very pleased with the way it turned out. This isn’t the best picture of it, and I’m not sure why the light looks blue. All the light flooding in behind the screen makes it hard to capture the exact look. But it gives my apartment a very airy, light feeling that it was lacking before. [Note: my apartment basically has dual-personalities...it has classic, very pretty beige walls with white molding and hardwood floors...then it has modern reddish-brown cabinets, stainless steel appliances, black marble countertops...not my style. It made my whole apartment feel kind of clunky.] (The fact that everything else is white now, too, helps.) I had two sage green chiffon panels left over from college that I tied to the side panels (which are open) so that the entire screen actually, well, screens. The opaque center section makes my apartment a smidgeon darker than when it was transparent, but it was only noticeable for the first day or so.
This was the most noticeable, obvious piece of furniture that I had to paint during my “paint everything white” phase, and it made the most amount of difference. I still marvel at what an effect the colors around you can have, psychologically. I originally worried that the apartment would feel “cold,” but it doesn’t at all. It feels calm and peaceful. I love coming home from work and feeling like my apartment is fresh and bright and clean (even when it’s not…har har…). It’s very restful.
As an added bonus: it is my apartment (apart from my landlord’s, obviously!) and I didn’t have to ask a single person if they cared if I splashed white paint all over everything! Bliss.