Whether you’re looking to score some privacy in a studio apartment, or you’re trying to divvy up an oversized room into more functional sub-sections, the reasons to employ a room divider are seemingly infinite. Also seemingly infinite? The types of room dividers you can choose from. From eye-catching curtains to open bookshelves, room divider options are plentiful these days. But what if you’re looking for a room divider that checks boxes in both the function and style departments?  To help, we’ve rounded up the most elevated ways to divide a room in two, from curtains to screens—no hammers required!

Photo by Lance Geber / Photo courtesy of Towne Palm Springs


If an overly airy floor plan has ever had you uttering the words “if we could just drop a wall right here,” consider a bookshelf or shelving unit the answer to your DIY prayers. In situations where constructing an actual wall might not be in the cards, a wide shelving unit can effectively mimic one. Whether used between a bed and a sofa in a studio to create a separate living and sleeping space, or to create an entryway off a open living room, a bookshelf is among the most elevated ways to split a room in two.

Worth noting is that with a bookshelf-style room divider you typically have two options: backed or unbacked shelves. For those craving max privacy, try a backed bookshelf. Pack the shelving side with books and use the flat back side as a faux wall. To up the faux wall side’s legitimacy, deck it with switch operated sconces, framed art, or even a mirror. If you’re a little more lenient about privacy, go with a backless bookcase (aka: an etagere). Since a backless bookcase is accessible from both sides, they’re ideal for creating two separate “rooms” without literally dividing them two.

Interior Design by Dina Bandman Interiors /
Photo by Christopher Stark

Back-to-Back Furniture

If your space is already on the petite side consider using back-to-back furniture as a room divider. Ideal for those who want the illusion of two spaces rather than two literal ones, this tactic can be as easy as scooching a settee up to the foot of a bed. The back of the settee will act like a visual room divider, designating the bed behind as the bedroom space, and the lounging area in front as the living space. If you’re thinking of implementing the settee/bed combo, keep an eye out for settees with a high, boxy back, as a lower back or curved back can sometimes get lost in translation.

In addition to small spaces, the back-to-back furniture trick can be used just as well in oversized spaces. Use the settee/bed combo to break a large master suite into separate sleeping and sitting zones, or use two back-to-back sofas in a long and narrow living room to create two separate conversation areas. Love the latter idea but not the idea of investing in two sofas? Scout out a tete-a-tete sofa. It’s literally the chicest room divider on the planet!

Photo by David A. Land / OTTO


If the words “curtain room divider” have you flash-backing to your dorm days, don’t panic! While haphazardly hanging a curtain to divide a room can majorly makeshift, with a few tricks, the look can actually read as incredibly chic. First, make sure your curtain extends from the ceiling to the floor—but doesn’t puddle too much on the floor! Next, use an attachment that will result in a seamless look above like a hospital curtain track or a drapery rod attached directly to the ceiling. Use a substantial fabric as well. Backed velvets and upholstery-grade fabrics are ideal for getting a weighted (read: high-end-looking) drape. Another trick for upping the look? Don’t skimp on the amount of fabric you use for your curtain. The more pleats your curtain panel has, the more lush it’ll look.

Photo courtesy of Tamsin Johnson Interior Design


If we had to choose just one room divider option to back, hands down, it would be the decorative screen. The ultimate in versatility, decorative screens can easily be moved, making it easy to block of a portion of a room for privacy and open it back up when more space is needed. Also catapulting screens to the top of our list? They run the gamut when it comes to style. Room divider screens come in virtually every shape and size, from three panel screens to hanging partitions; from Chinoiserie style to Op-Art style.

Important to remember when using a decorative screen is that they won’t completely divide a room in two. They’re typically shorter than ceiling height and under 70” wide if they have four panels or less, so are best used to give the illusion of division rather than actual division. Float one in the center of an open loft concept to symbolically section off sleeping and living space, or use on behind a case piece like a credenza to create a faux wall where you need it.

4 MORE Ways To Use Screens

It may be the perfect room divider today, but the uses for a screen can easily change right along with your evolving decor needs. Here are four more brilliant ways to use a decorative screen.

As a Headboard

If you’re looking for a way to crank up visual interest in your bedroom, slipping a screen behind your bed can be a great (and unexpected) way to do just that. We personally love the contrast of an Asian pictorial screen and an all-white bed topped with a throw pillow in a unifying hue.

To Fill An Empty Corner

If your tired of looking at an empty corner and not sure a pedestal or a plant (or a plant on a pedestal) are the way to go, consider a folding screen. It beautifully fills vertical space and can tuck into even tight spaces. Plus, it creates a little corner space behind that’s perfect for tucking things out of sight.

As Art Behind a Sofa

Over-the-sofa art might just be the most important art you choose for your home. If that thought makes you weak in the knees, opting for a decorative screen can make the decision relatively no-think. If you’re hesitant to affix a weighty screen to the wall, just casually prop your screen behind your sofa.

To Flank a Fireplace

A dead-center fireplace can pose questions about what to do with the surrounding space. If you’re looking for a creative way to fill it and impose some symmetry, flank both sides with matching screens. Not sure where to score twinning screens? Unhinge a four-panel screen and you have an instant pair.

May 19, 2019

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