Shopping for Room Dividers

If you don’t own a folding screen and you’re working from home, you may want to get one. Here’s why.,

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A folding screen is useful for dividing space, but it can do so much more.

“It really is a great way to bring in scale, texture, artistry or a decorative moment,” said Thom Filicia, the New York-based interior designer.

Screens, he noted, are essentially pop-up architecture.

Mr. Filicia uses them to separate various seating areas in one big space, or to soften the corners of a room. He uses them to hide ugly heating and air-conditioning equipment, and to frame or emphasize furniture, mirrors and art. And he has used them to create privacy in glass-walled apartments.

While room dividers were once de rigueur in professionally designed interiors, they are a little less common today. But Mr. Filicia thinks they’re due for a pandemic-driven comeback.

“Now that everyone’s doing home offices, I think screens are really going to go through a renaissance,” he said, because they’re an ideal way to create some physical separation between work and leisure. “Our personal spaces are becoming more multifunctional.”


  • How tall should a room divider be? That depends on where you plan to use it. Tall screens can be impressive, but Mr. Filicia has used screens as low as 30 inches high to conceal vents beneath a window.

  • Is an upholstered screen a good idea? It’s an opportunity to use fabric with a beautiful texture or pattern, Mr. Filicia said, and it can also improve the acoustics of an echoey room.

  • Should a room divider be opaque? If the goal is complete privacy, yes, but semitransparent screens are often a better choice. “They’re sort of like lingerie for the room,” Mr. Filicia said. “You’re seeing through them, but you’re not seeing everything.”


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Upholstered screen with panels of different sizes

$640 at ABC Carpet & Home: 646-602-3101 or abchome.com


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Steel screen with mirrored panels by Yabu Pushelberg

$2,200 at Stellar Works: 646-606-3760 or stellarworks.com


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Iron screen with woven banana-leaf panels

$349 at Urban Outfitters: 800-282-2200 or urbanoutfitters.com


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Black-stained wood-and-cane screen with arched panels

$549 at Crate & Barrel: 800-967-6696 or crateandbarrel.com


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Leather-and-metal screen by Sebastian Herkner

About $7,700 at 1stdibs: 1stdibs.com


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