There are a reassuring solidity about a conventional house with its ordinary walls and doorways. We can choose to be enclosed within an area with the door shut, keeping away extraneous noise and people. Or we may leave internal doors open, allowing in light and the babble of household life. Yet these fixed boundaries are changing. With our predilection for altering living spaces – through creating open-plan and double-height areas to en-suite bathrooms – personal privacy at home is often compromised. The Oxford English Dictionary defines partition as ‘division into parts; structure separating two such parts’ and it is these structures that can make the difference in between a frustrating lack of peace at home and a happy mix of privacy plus sociability.
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. Much more recent times, fixed partitions gained the disreputable image, conjuring up dreams of flimsy wall-divisions in inexpensive housing.
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Today’s architects and designers have revived partitioning as a crucial way of screening and cutting down noise in open plan spaces. Even better, 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 associated with space and privacy.
First, it’s vital to decide why you need partitioning. Are you looking to divide ‘public’ and personal areas at home – between the hall and bedrooms, for example? Or is it needed to screen off an area of a large knocked through area or to enclose a room-within-a-room? Since partitions are architectural structures, these are questions that are best answered early on in the building process. Solid, set partitions will affect space-planning just about everywhere else, as well as dictating the design and even the colour of a space. Portable partitions, from a sliding door to some screen on wheels, are easier to add later, but every form of partitioning 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. Designers are trained to think in 3-D, so will be able to suggest partitioning suggestions 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, gather tear-sheets from interiors magazines that depict unusual ideas. Cast the web wide and look at potential commercial materials, which can look striking inside a domestic setting. Investigate office partitioning, which may be adapted (it is often specifically designed to shut out unwanted noise). Look at modern bind catalogues : many offer sliding well panels – 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 – for bespoke glass doors, say : or finding a good carpenter, who will assist in designing timber partitions.