A room divider is a semi-permanent partition that allows for a space to be split up in separate areas. While dividing screens and doors are often used in residential homes, large room dividers are more commonly utilized in venues such as community centers and conference halls, where multiple activities may run concurrently and require separate spaces. From small wheeled shoji screens to full wall systems, a room divider can be utilized to obscure a smaller area or completely divide a space. A room divider can be made from many materials including fabric, plastic, and even living plants.
Room dividers, often called screens or partitions, have roots in ancient China, where they were intricately designed wooden panels used by royalty. As trade routes expanded, this concept reached Europe, adapting to local aesthetics. In Japan, lightweight, translucent "shoji" screens made of paper and wood became emblematic. Throughout various cultures, these dividers provided privacy, protected from drafts, and served as decorative elements. By the 20th century, they became popular globally, reflecting a blend of styles and materials.
Room dividers are evolving into multifunctional elements in modern homes and offices. With the rise of open-plan living and workspaces, they provide essential privacy and zoning. Contemporary designs favor modular and customizable options, like IKEA's modular "KALLAX" shelving used as dividers. Eco-friendly materials, like bamboo or recycled fabrics, are becoming popular. Tech-integrated versions, with built-in lights or digital screens, are emerging, turning traditional dividers into interactive pieces, enhancing both functionality and aesthetics.
A room divider, as the name suggests, can be used to divide rooms into smaller and more efficient areas. It is most commonly found in individual residences, being used as a piece of decor to showcase one’s personal style in a home, to conceal cluttered items, or to provide a sense of privacy.
There are many DIY room divider options such as utilizing a clothing rack and curtain, a bookshelf, or wire mesh screens. One can take panels of wood or frosted glass and fasten them together with piano hinges for the accordion-like appearance of typical room dividers. Another way of making a room divider is to thread thick rope through wooden plates mounted in the floor and ceiling. This is a way to divide spaces without completely concealing the areas from each other.
A room divider is a piece of furniture positioned in a room to separate and define areas within that single space, like a screen. A room divider can be made from a variety of materials and can be portable or temporary given the environment it exists in. Other objects and furniture pieces such as a shelf or collection of plants can also act as a room divider.