From garbage to gorgeous – transforming a three panel screen

 I stumbled across this rattan screen about 4 years ago. It was 7.30am, I was driving to work… my attention was drawn to a skip sitting outside a house in our street. Sticking out the top of the skip was a small portion of this rattan screen/room divider – It looked promising! So much so, if stopping to check it out meant I was late to work, it was a risk I was willing to take.

With years of experience under my belt, I would call myself a seasoned collector of junk from the footpath or skips. Even with that label clearly tattooed to my forehead it doesn’t make me feel any more comfortable about fossicking through other people’s junk. This morning was particularly awkward with a spectator sitting on the front porch of the house next door… monitoring my swift stop, reverse, park, inspect, grab and squeeze!

The ‘squeeze’ part of this mission was noteworthy. It probably deserved an audience… somehow I managed to ‘squeeze’ this three panel screen/room divider into my Holden Barina (tiny hatchback)! Where there is a will there is a way. On this occasion I would have broken the record for ‘Screen Squeezing into small cars’ if one actually existed (time was ticking, and I had to get to work). I toyed with the idea of driving 200m down the road and dropping the screen back at home – NO TIME! MUST GET TO WORK – so it traveled with me slid between the two front seats all the way to work, doing what it was designed to do – divide spaces in half!

For several reasons I found the hardest part of this mission luring my husband outside that night to help me retrieve it from the car:

a) I knew he was going to shake his head when he saw how I had positioned it in the car, then taken it to work and back;

b) If not approached correctly he would refuse to help me bring anymore junk into our home;

c) He wouldn’t be able to see the vision I had to transform it, which would make b) a more valid point in his mind!

Obviously the screen made it inside.

To transform it I strategically picked a weekend hubby was away playing golf – there was no room for doubters with this project.

1. The first thing I did was cut off all the woven rattan with a box cutting/Stanley knife. This took a while, and ruined my hands and chipped all my nails. It was very dusty between the rattan – Not a fun job. I was left with three wooden frames joined together with hinges.

2. I then went to the hardware store and purchased some chipboard/MDF to cover one side of each panel. If you take your measurements they will usually cut it to size for you (sometimes they charge a few dollars, often it is free).

3. Using a staple gun (or nails if you don’t have a gun) I attached the chipboard to each panel.

4. I then needed some inspiration to work out what to cover the panels with. I wanted a pattern, probably wallpaper (or material), and something unique. A friend from work told me about an amazing shop North of Melbourne, in Northcote, call Flashback Fabric and Wallpaper. They stock brilliant vintage wallpaper and fabric (as the name suggests!). When I visited I was confronted with the metallic, large floral wallpaper mum and dad had in their bathroom 30 years ago – that was a real ‘flashback’ for me!

I chose a gold and white pattern, detailed, but subtle colours…

Being a vintage wallpaper I needed some wallpaper glue to adhere it to the panels. I cut it down almost to size (leaving about 1 inch around the edges to hold onto, then using the box cutting knife trimed the excess around the edges after the glue had dried). It came up a treat!

I chose to leave the wood frame exposed on the back and sides, I was after a rustic look. Another option would have been to cover the back panels and/or paint them for a neater finish.

Next time you see an old screen, don’t write-it-off…. with a little imagination, and a bit of work you can have yourself a gorgeous and extremely unique room divider.




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