When it comes to furniture layout, the pieces themselves usually dictate the space. A sofa goes along the longest wall, with tables and other seating arranged to accommodate the preferences of the owner: Friendly open floorplans are great for entertaining, while closed, intimate spaces are great for solitude.
Sometimes the problem is not so much what to use the room for, but how to dictate its flow. Small spaces are often in need of distinct sections as much as large rooms are; both tasks can present their own challenges. With that in mind, we reached out to Max Humphrey Interior Design, Black Lacquer Design, and Edyta & Co. for some ideas on how to divide a room.
Designers from those respective companies—Humphrey, Caitlin Murray, and Edyta Czajkowska—pitched in to provide tips and product recommendations to make your space both navigable and livable. Scroll to read more below.
Use Furniture to Divide a Room
"Small rooms don't have to have small design moments. If anything each decision you make is more important than in a large room because every piece is focal. I like furniture that can be used in multiple ways, like a sofa-back table that’s wide enough to pull out and use as a dining table if you don't have room for a formal dining space." — Max Humphrey
Consider Folding Screens
"Dividing rooms can be tricky, but with the right products they can turn out beautiful. Upholstered folding screens are a classic choice and can add so much interest and fun to a space. Another option is to use a ceiling-mounted curtain track and drapery fabric to bring softness and movement into the room. An added benefit of this option is that it can easily be opened if need be." — Edyta Czajkowska
Use Bookshelves as Dividers
"Being able to create a room within a room is helpful even in a small living space. For this effect, I like to use bookshelves that can float in the middle of the room; they act as a divider and a storage solution." — Max Humphrey
"Dividing a room by way of your furniture layout is a great way to subtly elevate a space. It creates divisions that blend seamlessly into the overall design, calling virtually zero attention to themselves. If you can create strategic vignettes—each serving to strengthen the different ways in which you'll be using the space—with your furniture arrangements, any needed room division will come to the space almost by default. Plus, you'll add that much more polish to your space!" — Caitlin Murray
"In general, when decorating a living room, I like to float the furniture in the middle of the room. This creates a flow around the furnishings and actually can make a small space look bigger. People have a tendency to push all their furniture up against the wall, but even pulling your sofa out from the wall will give you more of a designer look. I try to avoid apartment-size sofas even in a small room. No one likes napping on a two-seater settée, and sometimes a normal-size sofa in a tiny room can create the mood of a larger space. Just be mindful of the overall depth of the sofa and maybe stick with one that has a tight back instead of loose cushions, which gives you a little more sitting room. — Max Humphrey
Use Rugs to Divide Small Spaces
"Rugs are another great way to help divide a small room because they can be used to define an open space. Using one rug under your seating area and a different rug under your dining area gives definition to each zone even when they're in the same room." — Max Humphrey