How to separate spaces without building walls | homify

How to separate spaces without building walls

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In condensed urban living environments like Hong Kong, we're accustomed to experiencing domestic setups that opt for a more open plan floor style in order to maximise space. Open plan design can really do wonders for turning a relatively compact floor plan into something far more spacious and inviting. It's all part of the 'work with what you've got' design mentality. But even open plan style interiors demand some clear divisions of space, whether it's for functionality or aesthetic reasons. Our modern lives still demand some degree of privacy and isolation, and this can be rather tough to achieve without the luxury of being able to build walls. While we may not be able to create new rooms in our space-limited domiciles, thankfully, there are a range of design solutions out there that can be harnessed and embraced in order to achieve similar results.

Today on homify, we're taking you through some fantastic examples of modern living where the separation and isolation of domestic spaces have been achieved using means other than walls. From unique furniture placements, to sliding doors and curtains, take a look at these excellent tips on how to make the most with what you've got. Read on and be inspired!

Fabulous furniture dividers

With a thoughtful selection of furniture, strategically placed in the right setting, you can instantly create an excellent separation between two or more areas of your open plan setup. Today, so many different items of furniture can be harnessed for multi-purpose means, and one of the most resilient and reliable for this task is the humble household bookcase or decorative shelving unit. 

Much of the time in modern life, our living areas tend to blend with our meal and kitchen preparation areas, or with our thoroughfares to bedrooms and entranceways. Unless a truly breezy, open, minimalist feel is what you're going for in your home, you may want to consider a light separation between these spaces. Here, we see a fantastic example of what's possible: a unique, infinity spiral bookcase and shelving unit, curling like the shell of a snail, filling multiple roles at once—a brilliant holder of household items and accessories, a stunning aesthetic statement, as well as an effortless space divider between living room and the rest of the home's quarters.

Selecting the right interior furniture, especially ones that need to function in multiple ways, can be a difficult undertaking. It's always a good idea to gain a little advice from those in the know, so before you move ahead why not chat to a professional?

The art of sliding doors

Of course, the simple addition of a piece of furniture won't always solve the separation dilemma for every domestic space. Sure, they can be a great, and instant way of creating a basic and effective division, but sometimes, a little more isolation may be needed. How to make that happen without putting up a wall? The solution is easier and far more practical than you might think.

Looking to separate a living area into two different spaces? Need a little extra visual and auditory privacy? The installation of a basic sliding door mechanism could be your saving grace. Here, we see its virtues working to full effect: a broad open plan living room that has been carved neatly and thoughtfully into two separate areas with a silver rimmed, opaque glass sliding door system. With this solution, you can enjoy the best of both worlds: slide the doors to close off the spaces when needed, then simply open them back up when you want to retain an airy, relaxed vibe. A practical, and very neat solution.

Ornate privacy in the bedroom

Hotel EME in Seville, Spain Donaire Arquitectos Eclectic style bedroom
Donaire Arquitectos

Hotel EME in Seville, Spain

Donaire Arquitectos

Open plan living makes for a fantastically free and breezy domestic environment, but it certain has it's drawbacks when it comes to privacy: especially in more intimate and private spaces like our sleeping quarters. Some of us might be content to slumber away in a completely open plan style setup, with barely any division between our living areas and walkways, but for most us, a little basic isolation will be more than necessary for functional and aesthetic purposes.

Here, we meet the middle ground with a fine, ornate divider, sectioning off an auxiliary sleeping space from an adjacent walkway and the living quarters beyond. No, this solution probably won't prevent too much noise from filtering in, but perhaps that's not the priority. What it will do is section off the areas neatly, providing adeqaute privacy, without compromising too much of the natural flow that this home appreciates and thrives on.

Simple, modest curtains

Yellow Ombre linen curtain by Lovely Home Idea LOVELY HOME IDEA Windows & doors Curtains & drapes

Yellow Ombre linen curtain by Lovely Home Idea


Sometimes, the most effective solutions are the easiest, and that's certainly the case when it comes to separators and dividers. While curtains are chiefly responsible these days for dressing our windows and keeping our interiors cosy and private after dark, they double effortlessly as a viable and resilient separator of domestic space too.

Here, we see how a humble curtain can work fabulously to create a sense of boundary between two designated living spaces. Sure, the auditory functionality won't be terribly high in this case, and noise will still very likely bleed from one space to the next, but at least the visual aspect is taken care of, offering a high degree of privacy. The best part about curtains is their accessiblity and variety: they come in a range of different colours, designs and materials, so there's bound to be one that suits your home interior perfectly. 

Minimalist essentials with maximum effect

Sometimes, when it comes to sufficiently dividing two or more areas of a compact domestic space, you won't actually need any high-grade installation or piece of expensive furniture—simply enlist the service of a few basic accessories and you may end up with a very similar, and effective result.

Here, we see a fabulous, compact split-level apartment with a modern rustic, minimalist wood motif. A single beam creates a basic stoppage between the open plan meal area and living quarters, but not a very convincing one. To create the sense of two different areas, without impacting very much on this home's effortless and highly inviting sense of natural flow, the designers added two simple accessories: a beautiful, basic potted plant, which brings an added sense of natural life into the home, as well as this great, rainbow hammock, which provides a loose, though rather clear space divider, as well as a brilliant secondary space to kick back and relax.

Build up!

Last, but not least, it's always a good idea to think outside the square. If you're too enamored with your open plan space to even consider dividing it up with furniture or accessories, why not build up instead? If you happen to be blessed with relatively high ceilings, then this option could work like a dream: enlist the services of a professional to help you construct a fabulous mezzanine or split-level floor, and separate your humble, open plan quarters in a unique way with a fabulous, secondary space above.

Did you enjoy that Ideabook? Why not take a look a few more fabulous examples with The essential guide to cool walls?

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