While we’re fully on board with open-plan living, sometimes we just want a little privacy, or to create a smaller, zoned space to feel cosy. Enter the room divider, or folding screen – a free-standing furniture piece not many of us possess, but one that can prove incredibly practical – not to mention pretty.
With design roots in ancient China, the hinged variety are traditionally ornate affairs, intricately wood carved and used as a decorative addition to the living room. A smart, contemporary room divider can create a nifty partition wall, allowing you to introduce a home office space in the corner of the sitting room, or to give the kids their own private space in a shared bedroom.
There’s a wealth of designs to choose from, whether you’re after a glamorous Art Deco-inspired screen for the boudoir, or a chic contemporary number that can be adjusted to suit your modern living needs. Some room dividers offer additional functionality in the shape of extra storage space, which is never not handy.
Our roundup has a room divider for every budget, from a purse-friendly contemporary slatted screen to a luxurious velvet clad folding number that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern palace.
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Dutchbone rumour room divider: £199, Cuckooland
Indoor rattan is a homeware trend that keeps on giving and this three-way folding screen by Dutchbone hits all the right notes when it comes to seventies-inspired bohemia. Classic in shape with its trio of identical panels, the lightweight room divider has a polyurethane lacquered finish, which keeps the rattan protected and the screen smooth to the touch. Expertly crafted, we loved the repeating circles within its grid design, and in either natural or brown, it offers a laid-back informality to the living room.
Housecosy Kendrick room divider, oak and walnut: £299, Housecosy
Doubling up as a versatile bookcase on wheels, Housecosy’s room divider is as practical as it is stylish. Crafted from solid oak and engineered walnut, it is a robust furniture piece, yet it lets through oodles of natural light with its angular design and spacious voids. The unit has just two sections with fixed backing, otherwise it’s all about the open shelving – fill it with as much or as little as you like and it will still feel airy. We loved the colour contrast in the materials and the easy to manoeuvre castors.
Lene Bjerre Mandisa room divider: £330, Sweetpea & Willow
Forming part of Danish brand Lene Bjerre’s Mandisa range, which boasts 100 per cent sustainable and organic materials, this three-way folding screen is a thing of simple beauty. It is handcrafted from bamboo and in jet black, offers a glamorous take on a boho classic. It’s beautifully lightweight but sturdy and boasts an eye-catching design that plays with vertical and horizontal lines. As a versatile and easily portable room divider, it’s a stylish addition to the bedroom, living room or indeed, bathroom.
B&Q Ella slatted adjustable height room divider, pack of five: £100, B&Q
If you’re after a flexible partition wall, and an affordable one at that, B&Q offers a stylish solution. The room divider comprises five sleek and chic MDF blades, which can be angled to suit your natural lighting wants. The blades can close completely, too, awarding your space a cosy feel – perfect for separating the open-plan kitchen and living area post-dinner. They’re also super easy to instal and fit snugly floor-to-ceiling with their adjustable screw mechanisms, so leave your drill in the toolbox.
Sweetpea & Willow French 3 panel mirrored screen: £452, Sweetpea & Willow
A mirrored screen can divide a room while at the same time, cleverly give the illusion that there’s more space – and that’s one reason why we fell for this French-style piece from Sweetpea & Willow. The ornate wooden folding frame boasts a distressed paint finish, awarding it vintage appeal, while the upper section of the room divider comes with discreet little hooks for keeping jewellery to hand while you’re getting dressed. This one’s perfect for the boudoir.
Shimu carved Ming screen, warm elm: £1,695, Shimu
Inspired by traditional Chinese architecture, this is an ode to the classic. Whether as an investment piece or a future family heirloom, it will undoubtedly keep its high value. The top sections of the panels are exquisitely hand-carved into an intricate geometric design that’s eye catching at every angle, while the lower panels are fitted in a honey toned rattan that complements the warm elm beautifully. This screen offers an imposing but ultimately calming presence.
Kreis Design pegboard room divider folding screen: £450, Kreis Design
The newly launched pegboard range by London designer Nikki Kreis is bringing Scandi-cool to the home office. The three-way folding screen is fashioned from sustainably sourced birch plywood and offers an ingenious way to zone areas while storing and displaying our favourite knick-knacks. The perfectly perforated unit comes with four little shelves and 12 pegs to create our own display. We love the attention to detail in this one, not least its smart leather hinges.
Maisons du Monde Selena gold metal leaf room divider: £186, Maisons du Monde
This may be a delicate screen but it offers high impact in the glamour stakes. All metal, the three-way room divider is painted in a pleasing shade of old gold that stays on the right side of tasteful, while its intricate pattern comprises interlocking palm leaves, giving the piece a sculptural texture that catches the light beautifully. If you’re a fan of house jewels, this will add an instant richness to the bedroom, and will offset your other shimmering metallics to perfection.
House of Hackney Avalon De Beauvoir screen, noir: £3,295, House of Hackney
Think of room dividers and House of Hackney always springs to mind. The brand’s holding screens are on the most-wanted lists of many a maximalist – and what better way to present its exquisite painterly florals than on an Art Deco-inspired furniture piece that essentially doubles as a canvas? Handcrafted from solid beech and upholstered in rich velvet with brass studs, it is an investment piece to treasure (with a price to match). The palmeral print is a classic but we’re loving the hand-painted wildflowers of right now.
The verdict: Room dividers
Dutchbone’s rumour room divider comes top for style, versatility and affordability. We loved its easy to use, classic three-way folding design. In laid-back rattan, it brings instant boho-luxe to the living room. We were also impressed with Kreis Design’s innovative pegboard folding screen for its innovative design that perfectly marries form and function.