Here’s our second installment of our Design 101 series, where we tackle popular design questions. Check out our Unfinished Furniture piece here.
Although sometimes taken to mean a folding screen specifically, a room divider, broadly defined, can be just about anything other than a wall that divides a room into smaller areas. In addition to folding screens, included in this category are partitions, curtains, even railings.
Divide and Conquer
This is a most basic role–they are called dividers after all. When there’s a chunk of space that you’d like to partition into smaller areas, room dividers are your go-to guys. They create and define spaces. In smaller apartments for example, they can work to separate your living area from your home office, or your dining room from your kitchen. In still smaller studio-type dwellings, they would be ideal, crucial even, in distinguishing the sleeping area from the living area. Craving for a hallway? Dividers, placed strategically, can make corridors and hallways where first there were none.
Legend has it that in ancient China, unmarried young women were kept out of sight of male strangers. When potential husbands came a-visiting, they would hide behind folding screens and try their darnedest to get a good view from there.
Folding screens still serve that purpose today, not as reconnaissance paraphernalia, but as instruments for hiding. They are used to conceal things that need concealing. In dressing rooms they’re called “privacy screens” because they provide covering for starlets and prima donnas as they change into and out of their costumes. In a modern home, folding screens, and room dividers in general can hide the unattractive from the sight of guests–such as cleaning implements, laundry, or messes that weren’t put away in time.
Sometimes no other purpose is required than to add aesthetic value to a space. There are lots of different takes on room dividers nowadays that go way beyond the utilitarian.
A folding screen, for example, can bring lots of drama to the ho-hum. Place it against the wall and create an effect equivalent to change in wallpaper. Place furniture in front of it and it becomes a striking backdrop. It can be treated as art or accent, foil or main attraction. Another cool thing about it is that you can adjust, move, and remove it as you please, no commitment necessary.
As for the fixed type of dividers, they come in such myriad forms, providing stunning textures and an abundance of visual interest.