Shoji Screen Light Box

shoji wallcoverings project
Shoji screens don't just divide living spaces. They can also add height and exotic elegance to a room.
Trinette Reed/Getty Images

Separating rooms is not the only use for a screen. Robert utilized the translucent quality of a shoji screen and created a magnificent Asian-inspired wall installation. The piece creates a focal point in the room, filling the space with warm, glowing light and extending the apparent height of the ceiling by carrying the eye vertically up the wall.

For this project, you'll need: plywood, a table saw, a four-panel shoji screen, rope lights, fasteners for the lights, paint or stain, black electrical tape or duct tape, a drill and screws.



  1. First, loosen the hinges on the shoji screen. Turn the hinges 90 degrees clockwise. Screw the hinges back down with the new alignment. This prevents the screen from folding and makes it rigid.
  2. Next, use black electrical tape and tape over the seams where the hinges have been turned. This prevents light from seeping through the cracks between the panels.
  3. Once the panels are flattened out, measure the length and width of the total screen. Build a frame out of plywood. Build the frame to the exact size of the screen. The frame will have a depth of no less than 6 inches. The frame has to allow room for the rope lights to reflect off the wall to create an even glow.
  4. Drill a hole for the wires to escape in the bottom of the frame.
  5. Paint or stain the frame to match the finish on the screen.
  6. Mount the frame to the wall. Mark its exact location on the wall in pencil. Anchor plywood strips to the wall as close to the inside dimensions of the frame as possible. Mount the frame to the plywood strips by screwing them together from the side of the frame.
  7. Add the rope lights to each panel. They should be mounted on the wood border as close to the paper inserts as possible. To connect the rope lights to one plug, use an extension cord that connects to the different lights inside the light box. Run the cord through the hole drilled in the bottom of the frame.
  8. Attach the screen to the frame, with the lights facing toward the wall, using wood screws.
  9. Plug it in and enjoy.