Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Folding window screens

One of the most beautiful features of Indian/Moroccan architecture is the intricate lattice window screens. I knew I wanted something with that look in our home but also that I didn't want it to cover the whole window (I like my sunshine). It costs a fortune to buy the real thing so how to reproduce the look without the price tag?

Plywood from Lowe's, a jigsaw and a drill. Oh, and a lot of time on your hands... But you will be rewarded with results like these.

Both screens were made from the same sheet of $20 plywood and I had all other supplies on hand. I looked through my inspiration files for some edge patterns that I liked and then copied them over to the panels (which I had a dude at Lowe's cut for me, by the way). I used my jigsaw to cut out the curvy patterns and the diamonds in the tall screen. And then it was time for drilling. A lot of drilling. Who would have thought that in order to achieve an intricate look it has to be intricate? And intricate takes a lot of time, unfortunately.

This tall screen is my favorite! The sun will shine through the holey flowers in the morning and form little sun spots on our bed and walls. And the streetlights will do the same at night. It sure brings a little bit of magic to plain old going to sleep and waking up :)

As much as I hate measuring I did do a little bit of that on this one to get the spacing in the pattern right. I used my largest drill bit for the large holes and then a smaller bit to make all the small ones. I placed all the little holes freehand so it's not an even pattern but a little "handmade wonky" all over. I love the look! 

This lotus flower motif was transferred over to the plywood with pencil and little holes drilled along the lines. The stems are free handed. 

When all the sawing and drilling was done I went over all the panels with my sander. Just enough to remove splinters and round sharp edges. All knots and imperfections I left as is, they add texture and character (but they can be filled with wood filler and sanded for a perfectly smooth look). And then I painted. Paint also covers a lot of the imperfections.

 Our neighbors' view at night. You can't really see much through the screens unless you're right up against the window and the lights are on inside. I was debating whether to upholster the outside of the panels with some fabric for privacy reasons but I didn't want to lose the light play through the holes so we're dealing with the slight inconvenience by turning the lights off before undressing. Just in case someone is standing outside with their nose up against the window :) During the day and with the lights off inside no-one can see anything but we can keep an eye on the street outside in a very discreet manner. Comes in handy sometimes.

 This is what it looks like from the outside during the day. Sorry for the reflections in the window, it was hard to get a good picture. The color of the screens is a custom mix of paints I had on hand and it's a dark blue/gray shade.

 In this last pic you can see how I joined the panels together. Ideally I would have used piano hinges but they were like $9 a piece and would have blown my shoestring budget out the window. So I strung the panels together like a corset using mason's line and it works like a charm. The X design is facing out and the cleaner look of parallel lines are facing into the room. The screens are foldable but since these will be in the same position all the time it doesn't really matter.

I love, love, love these screens and the exotic look they give to our bedroom. As I mentioned in an earlier post I am planning on hanging a plant in the empty spot above the lower screen. I had to keep that screen low in order to get away with only buying one sheet of plywood, but it reaches to above my chest so I'll be alright :) And it lets in a lot of wonderful daylight which I crave. It would be way too dark in our room if the screens covered the whole windows.

Do you think you would dare to go with this look in your home? It's not for everyone, for sure.

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  1. Wowwwwwwww! What beautiful results from such simple materials/tools. I am in love with them!

  2. Wow I would do this next to carport we have some nosey neighbours to our left this would be awesome.Pin button please.

  3. @ Diane

    Yes, ma'am! Done and done, finally :) Enjoy!

  4. You have the most interesting projects here, still looking at them all. I like the way your mind thinks. On this project I'm wondering if instead of plywood, you could do them from sheets of insulating foam. Be a lot lighter and also help insulate at the same time.
    I have a boatload of pallets and tires, and my fridge needs redoing. lol
    thanks bunches
    P.S. You should see my tin wall. :-)


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