A Guide to Choosing the Right Room Divider

Right Room Divider

Room dividers have been used for thousands of years for a handy and convenient barrier that splits up larger rooms. Today a room divider has many uses, from creating an office area in your bedroom, to splitting up your child’s dorm room, to simply adding rooms in your home. A room divider is essential for numerous purposes for a home. 

Dividing a room does not have to be expensive or require building walls. A room divider can be the perfect solution to creating more space or an entirely new area in a larger room in your home. However, there are different aspects to consider before purchasing the right room divider. Read on to find out what to consider choosing the right one. 

Add Flexibility in Any Room with a Room Divider

Room dividers add flexibility to your space by creating a greater number of rooms out of one larger room. If you want a separate office area or are planning to share a room with someone else, using a room divider can be a cost-effective way to achieve this purpose. There are numerous benefits to using a room divider over building a wall: 

  • Easy to set up, move, and take down if you want to move them to another area
  • Inexpensive compared to actually building a new wall or room to renovate an area
  • Enhance the privacy of an area by creating separate rooms for your home or work
  • Flexible because of the portability, meaning you can fold them up if you do not like the look of splitting up your room
  • Can provide sound buffering from children or pets if you need a quiet area to work
  • They come in many different styles, materials, colors, and sizes to match your existing décor 

There are many factors you will need to consider before purchasing a room divider. First, what is the fundamental use of the room divider? Room dividers can be used to separate work areas, direct foot traffic to a specific room, or split up a bedroom. The use of the divider will determine what type of room divider you should purchase. 

You also want to consider the size of the room and if you have a high or low ceiling. This includes how tall you want the room divider to be and whether it will hit the ceiling for sound buffering or leave some space at the top. Room dividers come in different heights, so you will need to complete some measuring before your shopping begins. 

Room dividers are also sold in numerous materials, styles, and colors. Once you figure out the size of the divider, you can start researching what material, style, and color will work best with your room’s décor. For example, building a separate office area will need something more professional and subdued than splitting up a playroom or child’s room. 

Choosing a Room Divider – The Basics

Before you should start learning about the different types of room dividers available on the market today, there are some basic elements that need to be reviewed. First, you should figure out beforehand how much you want to spend on a room divider because they can range anywhere from $150.00 to more than $1,000.00 or $2,000.00. 

Once you have established a budget, then you should evaluate what the overall purpose is of your room divider. Why are you splitting up your room in the first place? Is it to create a private office area or a playroom for children? The reason for the room divider will also dictate the type of divider, the material used, and the style. 

After you assess a budget and purpose, you will need to measure the area of the space so that you know how many panels you will need to purchase and the dimensions of each panel. You will probably need at least two panels, but you could require more depending on the area being partitioned. Then you can choose the following: 

  • Choose the type of room divider
  • Select the proper material for the room divider
  • Determine the best color and finish
  • How much maintenance do you want to invest in the room divider
  • How long do you plan on using the room divider 

Room dividers can create useful areas in your home, but they need to be chosen carefully. Room dividers can be used in many ways, but there are certain steps that need to be taken so that you are purchasing one that is right for you and you are not having to return panels or full room dividers because they did not compliment the area. 

How Do You Measure a Room Divider?

Before you can even start shopping for room dividers, you will need to measure your living space to make sure you get the correct length and height for your divider. Room dividers are usually available anywhere from three through seven panels, so you can customize the room divider depending on how long you will need it to be. 

Measure the floor space to establish the right amount of panels needed to cover the area. You will need to keep this number in mind when you start looking at room dividers, as you will need to find out the measurements of the panels. Usually two or three panels work best in most cases, but it will depend on the size of the space being partitioned. 

You will also want to measure the area you want to section off to make sure you are putting the panels in the correct place. If you are unsure how many panels work, purchase less panels and fit them into the measured area. That way, you can add as many panels as you would like later on if you need more privacy for the partitioned area. 

You will also want to measure the ceiling height to make sure you get the right size room divider. The last thing you will want is a room divider that is too tall or too short for your ceiling area. Your choice of room divider will depend on whether you have a high or low ceiling in the sectioned off area of the room. 

Choose the Material to Suit Your Style and Needs

Now that you know how long and high your room divider will need to be, you can choose the material that best suits the style of your room and the needs of the dividing. Room dividers are available in numerous different materials and it can get intimidating trying to decide which one will look best in your room. It depends on the overall setting. 

Do you want light to pass through the room divider or a solid setting for more privacy? Are you looking for floral patterns or muted colors? These are all good questions when deciding on the correct material. A poorly lit room may benefit from an opaque room divider, while an office would need privacy. They generally come in three choices: 

  • Fabric – This is the most popular choice for those who want privacy and sound control to get work done, put a baby to sleep, or any other areas that need sound buffering.
  • Polycarbonate – Great for kids rooms because it is easy to wash with a towel and air dry. This is also ideal for the outdoors in that polycarbonate can handle all types of weather.
  • Canvas – A good in-between choice, as it can be cleaned easily with water and absorbs some sound, but is not suitable for the outdoors. 

Choosing among the three materials depends on where you are putting the room divider and the function. Fabric works best indoors for sound control, while polycarbonate is ideal for outdoor settings. Canvas is easier to clean than fabric and works indoors as well, but does not provide as much sound control and cannot be placed outdoors. 

In addition to the type of material, there are a few styles you can choose from that can really add elegance, charm, and character to your room. Do you want light to pass through or solid wood? Decorative print or dyed faux leather? Below will discuss eight different styles that all have their own aspect of appeal and attraction. 

Japanese Styled Room Dividers

Japanese styled room dividers are by far the most classic and popular styles in the American market today. They are inexpensive and durable, yet lightweight enough to be portable around the house if necessary. They may come in decorative cherry blossom prints or opaque materials to let the sun shine through. Some other options include: 

  • Lattice designs
  • Painted wood frames
  • Fine wood-stained finish 

Lattice designs are the most popular type of Japanese room divider and probably the most classically well known. The classic lattice comes in cross hatch or double cross, but more contemporary versions are available in unique floral and botanic variations. They come either single or double-sided depending on the decorative look. 

The painted wood frames are the least expensive of the three and come in a variety of colors: red, blue, green, purple, pink, gold, or a classic black, white or ivory. An office may want the more professional fine wood stains, such as honey oak, cherry rosewood, pine, or walnut. 

Japanese styled room dividers truly offer a sense of elegance and style to any room. A specific option called a Shoji screen is ideal for adding a creative touch to your living area while also adding privacy and space. They are often printed with traditional Japanese patterns and are effortlessly customizable to your home. 

Chinese Style Room Dividers

Ancient Chinese style room dividers have been used since the 10th Century to add beauty and elegance to an area. They are usually hand crafted decorative screens that may be made of silk, mulberry paper, gold leaf applique, ink or watercolor art, or hand-painted lacquered floor screens. Most are available in four- or six-panel dividers. 

There are exceptional designs from the Ming dynasty that may be coated with black lacquer, including hand carved mother of pearl, or hand painted motifs of flowers and birds. Other Chinese style room dividers are made of wood panels that are covered in unique oriental art paintings of flowers, birds, landscapes, and Chinese characters. 

The downside to these images of beauty is that many of the Chinese style room dividers, particularly the silk and hand crafted decorative designs, are very fragile and can be easily damaged. These room dividers would not be ideal in areas where children are playing because they are really for decorative purposes over practical purposes. 

Wooden Shutter Style Room Dividers

Wooden shutter style room dividers offer a classic American design constructed with solid wood for a more professional look and feel. Usually the solid wood is stained with a fine wood finish that is appropriate for office areas like attorneys, counseling professionals, accountants, or financial planners. They come in a variety of finishes: 

  • Cherry rosewood
  • Honey oak
  • Natural pine
  • Walnut brown
  • Classic white
  • Classic black 

These room dividers may be a bit more pricey, but they are solid and sturdy and resemble the look of tall window shutters. They are also available with adjustable wooden slat blinds built into the panels to allow light in as necessary. If the light gets to be too much, just close the blinds and then the room divider becomes opaque. 

Overall, a wooden shutter style room divider is perfect for a professional or formal setting. The dark wood finish adds a richness to the room while also establishing credibility and even a sense of integrity to professionals that require an essence of honesty and reliability. 

Rattan Style Room Dividers

Rattan style room dividers are also quite popular due to their beauty and elegance. These are made from wood frames that are wrapped in sustainable plant fibers, such as rush grass, that are spun into a strong cord. Although they give any room an elegant look, rattan style room dividers are surprisingly inexpensive compared to other options. 

Rattan style room dividers work well for splitting off an office or entertaining area because they come in so many distinctive designs and textures that are woven into the panels themselves. The rush grass and plant fiber cords absorb colorful dyes nicely to give an added touch of black, green, blue, red, or beige. 

If you have an area that gets quite a bit of foot traffic, rattan style room dividers may be a great choice because they are good looking and robust. They work very well at dividing open spaces and defining new areas of a large room or creating a visual barrier at an entrance. They are also very popular for providing privacy when entertaining. 

The only downside to the rattan being painted is that sometimes the paint flakes off the wood. That being said, there are many benefits to rattan such as the screens fold nicely, they are lightweight and portable, they are durable, and come in opaque options that can completely block sunlight if necessary. 

Printed Canvas Room Dividers

There are many types of printed canvas room dividers available that can add style and flair to any room. The great thing about canvas is its decorative flexibility. Ink jet printing allows art-quality images to be reproduced onto the canvas panels to give any room an artistic and beautiful look. Nearly any image can be reproduced onto the canvas. 

For example, photographs of landscapes, nature, and wildlife can be placed on the screens, as can paintings from Van Gogh, Money, and Renoir, Japanese and Chinese brush art, or other images, photographs, or art prints. The canvas screen dividers fold easily and are built using durable wood frames that are wrapped in the art canvas. 

These room dividers are the perfect choice for partitioning off nearly any room indoors. If you are splitting a room into an office, you can literally have a canvas wall of art replicated for panache. A children’s room can be partitioned with canvas prints of their favorite television or movie characters to add charm and appeal to the living area. 

There are even plain white art canvas room dividers available that can be painted by you or your children. These give rooms a unique “do-it-yourself” look that adds your family’s personality to the blank slate of the canvas room dividers. Just remember that canvas does not block sound as well as fabric and cannot be used outdoors. 

Faux Leather and Animal Skin Room Dividers

Faux leather and animal skin room dividers are a sophisticated alternative to wooden shutter style room dividers. They usually come in either three- or four-panel sizes and come in a variety of patterns and colors. Faux leather comes in a variety of colors, from black, brown, or Renaissance-designed printed patterns, and faux animal skin includes: 

  • Dyed burgundy faux alligator
  • Silver faux crocodile
  • Red faux snake
  • Black and white faux zebra skin 

All of the unique, exotic looks give a room a modern and eclectic décor for casual or formal areas. These room dividers are usually heavier than the average wood, canvas, or rattan room divider so they are tough and substantial. Overall, faux leather and animal skin room dividers indicate an image of high quality, richness, and elegance. 

Similar to wood, faux leather and animal skin room dividers are perfect for sectioning off an office or work area because they add professionalism. Since these options are thicker and heavier than other room dividers, they also absorb sound very well if you need a quiet area for work. 

Faux leather and animal skin room dividers are also completely opaque so they offer privacy for your work area. This is particularly important if you have a career in which you are discussing sensitive and private issues with your clients. They will feel more comfortable opening up to you knowing the conversation is kept private in your office. 

Hanging Room Dividers

If you are on a budget and are not interested in having a portable, movable room divider, you can hang a room divider from the ceiling at a lower price. Hanging room dividers come in a variety of colors and styles and are often made of light materials such as fabric, plastic, or other decorative materials in which to choose: 

  • Wood matchstick
  • Bamboo
  • Shoji paper
  • Plastic blinds 
  • Curtains

Hanging room dividers are easy to install by simply screwing them into the ceiling and can even roll up if necessary. They are an inexpensive and convenient way to split up an area of your room for privacy. However, many of these options, such as the wood matchstick and bamboo options, do not provide complete privacy because of stitching.

You can also combine hanging room dividers with other items around your home, such as a wall of plants for a plant divider in addition to a simple curtain or plastic blind. These combinations are ideal for smaller homes in that they do not take up a lot of space but make a world of difference when trying to separate smaller areas.

Bookshelf Room Dividers

If you are simply splitting up a smaller area of a room for effect, a bookshelf room divider can be a creative way to display your favorite books and decorative items while partitioning a smaller area. For example, maybe partition off a reading area so that you have a cozy nook with a chair, side table, lamp, and then your vast collection of books. 

Bookshelf room dividers also provide storage that other traditional room dividers do not offer. They are the perfect combination of adding style and function to an area of your home and come in many modern and trendy choices. However, bookshelf dividers do not reduce noise and sound and are usually best for areas that do not need privacy. 

A bookshelf may work very well if you are simply dividing a room from a hallway. That way, you are designating where the hallway ends and the room begins but you do not need a huge room divider to designate an entirely new area. A bookshelf can transform a small or large area of your home, whether it is a living area, playroom, or office.

A bookshelf can also be a low cost way to create more rooms, living space, or even an office in your home since you can store the appropriate books or accessories. For example, instead of taking up space with filing cabinets in a home office, you can use a bookcase to store needed items in decorative storage bins to be stylish and functional. 

Choosing a Color and Style of a Room Divider

The room divider you choose should mirror the style and décor that is already in the room you are partitioning so that you do not end up having to purchase new furniture just to match the room divider. When choosing a color, you should choose one that compliments the overall style and theme of your room. 

For example, lighter-colored room dividers usually flatter areas that are casual and eclectic areas, while darker-colored room dividers are appropriate for formal settings like a professional office area. Room dividers that have panels with colorful prints are ideal for children’s bedrooms or playrooms or more feminine areas of the home. 

Just make sure the color of your room divider creates a stylish and classically-decorated space that matches or compliments the colors of the room’s walls, furniture, curtain patterns, and anything else already visible in the room itself. The function of the room, style of the room, and your own personal preferences will all influence color choices. 

You can also use color to your own advantage in order to further separate the two areas being partitioned by the room divider. For example, if you choose a room divider with colorful patterns, you may want to repaint one of the areas so that it matches the colors in the room divider, while the divider itself also compliments the other part of the room. 

Selecting Your Room Divider

Now that you know the different types of room dividers and you have measured the area for length and height, you will want to evaluate what the function is of your overall space. You need to consider the size, color, and style of the room, whether the function is playful or professional, and the need for privacy versus simply breaking up space. 

For example, do you want the decorations on your room divider to stand out and be noticed, or do you want the room divider to blend in with the current style and look of the room? This may dictate the type of room divider as well as the decorative look. Make use of the different colors in your room so that you can differentiate the two areas. 

If you are partitioning a large room, you will want something large and durable, while smaller areas probably work better with light-weight room dividers that do not take up as much space, like fabric or canvas room dividers. You can ask yourself the following questions to select the proper room divider for your area of your home: 

  • How many feet tall and how many panels wide?
  • Do you want light to pass through or solid panels?
  • Does the room divider need to be heavy or light?
  • Is the area of the room casual or formal?
  • Does the style need to be decorative or functional? 

Answering these questions will help select the perfect room divider. You should also decide if you need quiet and privacy, because you may opt for a floor-to-ceiling room divider that is sound barring and more solid than something light and decorative like Chinese silk. In addition, the color and style of the room divider needs to be considered. 


The Essential Room Divider Buying Guide



Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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