If you have a big space, you know the struggles of filling it without overcrowding. This is where room dividers come in. Room dividers make decorating significantly easier, even if they can be a bit of a pain when it comes to stabilization.
Here’s everything you need to know about room dividers, along with our top six tips for keeping them stable and upright.
Six Tips to Keep Your Room Divider from Falling Down
If you have a room divider, you might know the struggle of getting it exactly where you want it, and suddenly – BANG – it’s on the floor and you have to do it all over again. Whether you’ve got a pesky pet, a curious child, or just an unusually windy room, dividers have been known to be prone to falls.
If you’re looking for a solution, here are our top six tips for keeping your room divider standing.
Assess Your Space
There may be a problem not with the divider itself, but with the placement of the divider. Check to make sure that standing dividers are on a level surface that isn’t too slippery. If it’s on hardwood, for instance, consider adding furniture stabilizers – small fabric pads – to the bottom to add grip and protect both the divider and the floor.
For hanging and curtain dividers, you should make sure that their track or rod is level and not overweight in any particular place. Make sure that they’re sitting on the track or rod properly and aren’t likely to slip off.
You should also be aware of what’s making the divider fall. If it’s in a particularly high-traffic room, you may need to take further measures to stabilize it. If it’s just in a drafty spot, however, it might be simplest to move it slightly out of the path of the breeze.
Adjust the Divider
The simplest fix for a falling divider is to adjust how it’s set up. Accordion dividers can be extended or contracted to fit the space they’re in, while you can add more rings to a curtain divider’s hanging rod. For hanging dividers, you may consider adjusting the track itself to make the hold more secure if it’s prone to falling.
Bookcase dividers can’t necessarily be adjusted, but you can check to make sure they’re sitting on a level surface and that the contents of the case are evenly distributed in terms of weight.
Check the Locks
For rolling dividers, there’s usually a preinstalled locking mechanism on the wheels to keep them from moving too frequently. If these get stuck, they may cause the divider to tip or fall. Be sure to check your divider’s locks often to make sure they’re not sticking too aggressively.
This may also be the case with hanging dividers, as there is a preset stopping point on the track after which the divider panel will either jolt to a stop or slide off. If you push the divider past this point, it may cause the panel to jump the track and fall. Be careful when pulling your divider open or closed, and if there is no stopper at the end, consider investing in one.
Use furniture strategically
This technique is especially helpful for dividers set on carpeted flooring. For many kinds of dividers, furniture placed in exactly the right spot can act as a kind of stabilizer. Heavy vases and accent pieces can be used not only to prop the divider if it happens to tip, but also as fashionable room accessories.
The best furniture to use as room divider props are vases, end tables, chairs, potted plants, small shelving units, and any small piece that’s made to be stationary. Make sure it’s well-weighted and not in danger of falling on and ruining the divider.
Install stabilizing brackets
If you have a divider that stands on the floor, such as an accordion or bookcase, then you may choose to include stabilizing brackets along the bottom. These are usually L-shaped pieces of metal, although a simple triangle of wood or even a dowel can work, depending on the angle at which it’s attached.
Stabilizing brackets can be screwed to the divider and, if need be, to the floor to keep it from falling over. Oftentimes, though, just having the added support will be enough to keep a relatively light divider from tipping.
Attach it to a wall
If all else fails, you can stabilize a room divider by attaching one side of it to an existing wall. With accordion dividers, this allows it to still be adjustable without the constant threat of falling. This can be done with the same kinds of brackets you would use as floor stabilizers.
This method also works for handing dividers, though it means they’re no longer adjustable. You can do a similar trick with curtain dividers by simply attaching loops of fabric or string to the edges and adding matching hooks to the wall for them to catch on. This gives you some adjustability.
DIY Room Divider Ideas + How to Anchor Them
Building a room divider at home can be a great way to save money and add personal flair to your design. Here are a few DIY ideas to get you started.
Wooden pallets, often used in shipping, are easily available at your local hardware store or even through salvaging from local stores that get large deliveries regularly, such as grocery stores. Standing two side-by-side and attaching them with hinges gives you a simple divider that can be stained or painted to match any room.
They can also stand on their own, when set at the right angle, without additional anchoring. This makes them easy to move, adjust, and display.
For a relatively simple DIY divider your kids can help decorate, you could try using artist’s canvases. Paint or draw on your favorite design, then simply hinge them together for a cute, personal privacy screen.
To make them stand more effectively, you could attach simple flat wooden struts perpendicular to the frame on the outermost panels. You could also use the furniture trick listed above.
A salvaged window can make an excellent divider if you want to break up a space without taking away the light. Simply attach it to a regular hanging divider rack and you’ve got a beautiful addition to the room. Set it above a low coffee table or set of drawers for added separation.
Macrame is an artistic way of knotting together rope or string to form patterns. If you enjoy working with your hands, then creating your own one-of-a-kind macrame divider might be the perfect side project for you. They also make awesome gifts!
There are lots of patters and tutorials available for free online. You can choose to go simple with large, thick rope or you might create a smaller, more intricate design using thin string. The best thing about this DIY method is that you can easily adjust the size of the divider to perfectly match the room it’s going in.
How to Visually Divide a Room without a Divider
If you’re looking to divide a space but don’t think a physical divider would be appropriate, there are a few other ways you can create the illusion of separation.
For one, you could choose to color block the room into sections. Painting feature walls and adding bright, differently colored accents to different parts of the room can make it seem visually distinct and easy to recognize the different purposes of each space.
You can achieve the same kind of affect with varying patterns and angles. If one section of the room is sharply modern while another has a more flowing aesthetic, they’re going to immediately register as different spaces, which may be exactly what you want them to do.
Contrasting materials can help as well. Adding rugs to certain areas can divide them at the floor level, as can having a different finish on the walls or ceiling. Just make sure that the design works together overall rather than clashing.
The Types of Room Divider
A room divider, at its core, is a freestanding wall that can be added to any room. They’re often, but not always, removable or adjustable to match the space they’re installed in. There are four basic types of room dividers.
Accordion dividers, also known as folding dividers, are the oldest and most traditional kinds of room dividers. They are made of individual panels that hinge together to form a folded design that can stand on its own. These are usually made of fabric, paper, or wood, and have decorative designs either printed, painted, or carved onto them.
These types of dividers are most often seen in homes with designs that echo eastern Asia, especially paper and fabric dividers. Solid wood paneled dividers will look right at home in a more academic setting but are often a bit too heavy looking for bedrooms and modern living spaces.
Hanging dividers are panels that are suspended from the ceiling by a rack system. They generally slide and can be made of glass, plastic, or wood. Some hanging dividers are made with decorative patterns carved or cut into them, allowing you to break up large spaces without blocking too much light or airflow.
Hanging dividers can be as opaque or as transparent as you like. They can be used to great effect in open-plan homes, but we’ll talk more about that near the end of the article.
Curtain dividers are curtains hung from rods that divide up a room. They can either be permanent mountings or mobile frames and are most often used as privacy dividers. They can be made of fabric, wooden or metal blinds, or even individual lines of beads hung close together for the illusion of a single sheet.
Bookcase dividers are exactly what they sound like – freestanding bookcases that divide up a room. These can be either standard shelving cases or cubicles, and are either mobile or freestanding. There are even certain kinds of carts, called library carts, that can be considered small bookcase dividers.
Frequently Asked Room Divider Questions
Once your divider is stable, you might wonder about some of its other features. Maybe you’re wondering how to pick one in the first place. Here are the answers to some of the other common questions you might have about room dividers.
Where Do Room Dividers Come from?
Folding dividers originated in China during the Qin dynasty, in about the fourth century BC. They were heavy and expensive, often made of wood and hand carved to go in the houses of various royalty. Toward the end of the Middle Ages, these screens were brought over to Europe as travel became more common and less restrictive.
They were passed on through many other cultures before becoming a worldwide staple of room design after about the 17th century AD when the French started making imitations of the original Chinese dividers in their own style. Now, room dividers are used all around the world, and are made in hundreds of different ways to fit every style.
Why Use a Room Divider?
There are many uses for room dividers, but they can all be broken down into two basic categories: utility and design.
Utility room dividers can provide privacy and a more relaxing environment. They’re used in office spaces to designate work environments and in hospitals to preserve patients’ privacy and dignity. They can also be used to add storage to an otherwise limited space, such as an apartment.
Utility dividers may also be used to turn one space into two separate ones. Again, this is a space-utilization method that works well in dorms and shared apartments and can make sharing a home significantly easier.
Decorative room dividers can break up a large space without heavy construction and add a nice decorative flair to a room relatively cheaply. They’re a popular choice in the home designs around the world for their versatility and simplicity.
Are Room Dividers Expensive?
This depends on the kind of room divider you want, and the material you want it made out of. Curtain dividers, oddly enough, tend to be the cheapest to buy and install, starting at around $10-$20 for a simple fabric or bead curtain and tension rod.
As with nearly everything else when it comes to décor, the more elaborate you go in terms of design and material, the more expensive room dividers tend to get. The average price is going to be between $50 and a little more than $100, though some of the most elite, artisan-made dividers can cost more than $3,000.
Can You Use a Room Divider Outside?
Yes, you can! There are room dividers made of heavier materials like canvas, thicker woods, and even iron that are specially designed to work in patios, pool changing spaces, and all of your favorite outdoor spaces. Be careful when choosing one, though – it should be specifically marked for outdoor use. Otherwise, your divider may fall apart due to the weather.
Do Room Dividers Block Noise?
In most cases, no. Since room dividers are frequently made of light, mobile materials, they’re not going to do much in the way of sound dampening. Additionally, most room dividers are only about half the height of the room, and don’t extend the entire width of it.
There are certain specially-made dividers that might reduce sound, usually used in recording booths and similar situations, but very few if any regular commercial room dividers will actually block out noise completely.
How tall or wide should a room divider be?
This depends entirely on the size of the room you’re putting it in. Generally, dividers are roughly half the height of a normal wall or smaller and may cover any width from the entire room to a small corner. To figure out how tall you want your divider to be, measure the space it’s going into and compare those measurements to standard divider heights.
Are Room Dividers Easy to Move?
It depends on the divider’s structure. Accordion, curtain, and hanging dividers can be as simple to move as sliding aside. Bookcase dividers, on the other hand, tend to be a little more difficult to move and may even be bolted into the ground for safety reasons.
If you’re attempting to move your divider, be sure to check for any securing brackets or screws ahead of time so they can be removed accordingly. Heavier dividers might require you to enlist some friends to help. You might also consider investing in furniture moving pads to slip underneath the divider, as these can protect your floor and your feet from having a heavy piece dropped on them.
Room dividers are an easy design choice. They’re versatile, useful, and do the work of a wall without the heavy costs. If you want to change your spa