There’s a reassuring solidity about a conventional home with its ordinary walls and doorways. We can choose to be enclosed within a room with the door shut, keeping out there extraneous noise and people. Or we might leave internal doors open, letting in light and the babble of family life. Yet these fixed boundaries are changing. With our predilection regarding altering living spaces – from creating open-plan and double-height locations to en-suite bathrooms – personal privacy at home is often compromised. The Oxford English Dictionary defines partition since ‘division into parts; structure isolating two such parts’ and it is these structures that can make the difference between a frustrating lack of peace in your own home and a happy mix of privacy and sociability.
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Of course , partitions aren’t new; they have been eternally popular, from traditional Japanese sliding doors, employed to divide sleeping and living spaces, to the decorative freestanding screens utilized throughout Europe across the centuries. In more recent times, fixed partitions gained the disreputable image, conjuring up visions of flimsy wall-divisions in inexpensive housing. Today’s architects and developers have revived partitioning as an important way of screening and cutting down sound in open plan spaces. Better yet, partitions can be used to make a strong ornamental statement in an enticing array of brand-new materials. Depending on the style you choose : stationary or moveable – you can use them to support ever-changing configurations of space and privacy.
First, it’s important to decide why you need partitioning. Are you searching to divide ‘public’ and personal areas at home – between a hall and bedrooms, for example? Or is it needed to screen off an area of a large knocked through space or to enclose a room-within-a-room? Because partitions are architectural structures, they are questions that are best answered in early stages in the building process. Solid, fixed partitions will affect space-planning just about everywhere else, as well as dictating the style and even the colour of a space. Moveable partitions, from a sliding door to some screen on wheels, are easier to include later, but every form of dividing requires a well-considered financial outlay. Even if you are not using an architect while doing building work, it can be well worth finding a professional for an one-off consultation. Architects are trained to think in 3-D, so will be able to suggest partitioning tips that seamlessly integrate into the ‘skin’ of the room.
As for possible materials and types of partitioning, do your own market research early as it makes the decision-making process easier. As a starting point, get tear-sheets from interiors magazines that will depict unusual ideas. Cast the web wide and look at potential commercial materials, which can look striking in the domestic setting. Investigate office partitioning, which may be adapted (it is often specifically made to shut out unwanted noise). Look at modern bind catalogues – many offer sliding well sections – in addition to DIY stores, which will stock a host of doors and sections. There are also the options of going direct to a specialist manufacturer – intended for bespoke glass doors, say – or finding a good carpenter, who will assist in designing timber partitions.