How to divide a room with curtains

Hanging up a curtain in the middle of a room may seem a little eccentric, but it’s actually one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get creative with your space. Curtain room dividers can help create flexible zones in open plan spaces or even just add a sense of drama to an otherwise minimal room.

From the material you choose to the way you hang it, the possibilities can be endless. Honing in on what you want is the hardest part, but once you’re suitably inspired the rest is easy!

Step 1 – What’s your goal?

Curtains can be used in a range of ways, so if you fancy dabbling in the art of draping you’ll need to decide on what you’re trying to achieve. Perhaps you want a noncommittal way to zone a multi-use space or to add a degree of privacy in an open plan area. Alternatively, maybe your room feels cold and you want to add a softer feel to it. Whatever you're trying to achieve, it’s important to be clear on the main objective before you start getting creative.

Step 2 – Research & Inspiration

As with any project, it’s always a good idea to do some research before you take the plunge. Particularly if you find visualising difficult, having a quick browse of inspirational images will give you a better idea of how something is going to look. Exploring how designers have used different fabrics or shapes in their curtain dividers will also give you more confidence in your own decision making.

Once you’re full to the brim with ideas, it’s time to hone in on your design. Generally, most curtain dividers will be on straight rails as these are the easiest and cheapest to purchase. It’s possible to find curved rails in some shops but these may be more difficult to get hold of or may need to be bespoke – which will of course affect the cost. With that in mind, it’s probably best to keep it simple!

Step 3 - Fabric

When selecting your fabric, it’s important to consider a few things; colour, transparency, pattern and texture. If the purpose of your divider is to gently zone a space, it’s better to use a slightly translucent fabric. This also applies to smaller spaces as an opaque fabric will essentially cut the room in half and make it feel more cramped. On the other hand, if you want to give a particular area more privacy then a thicker fabric will be essential.

The colour and texture you choose should be influenced by the effect you are trying to create. If you’re trying to inject a cosy feel to a space, you should use warmer tones – this doesn’t mean that white is off the table but perhaps consider a creamy or organic shade over a bright one. It’s also a good idea to take note of the existing colours in the room and pay particular attention to the walls. Using a fabric that’s similar colour to the walls will create a sense of fluidity between them and the curtain divider.

Lastly, take a moment to think about whether you want to introduce texture or pattern with your room divider. A bold print is harder to integrate to a space, but can be really impactful if done well. Just remember that it should still feel cohesive with the rest of the room. A more subtle way of leaning away from a block colour without going for a full pattern could be to use a fabric that has a lot of texture, for example a boucle or fleck.

Step 4 – Tracks & Rails

There are a few different types of curtain rails and some are more secure than others. If you want to avoid drilling in lots of holes and you do not expect to be moving the curtains frequently, you can just go for a simple hook and line option. Remember that the longer your rail is the more holes you will have to drill in order to keep it secure. It’s also worth noting that a line and hook rail will not be strong enough to support thicker fabrics.

From personal experience, I found that a rigid track system is the best option for most functions. While you may have to drill a little more, they’re actually very easy to hang and the curtains will draw much more smoothly. On top of this, you avoid the problem of potential sagging that comes with using a line.

Step 5 - Implementing the design

Not everyone is handy with a drill, but it’s such a useful skill for DIY projects like this one. The most important thing to remember is that you’ll probably need to use wall plugs in order to fix anything heavy to a wall or ceiling. These are really cheap and just need to be firmly pushed into the hole before the screws go in.

Be sure to check that no ceiling lights are going to interfere with where you want to hang the track. To be on the safe side, try and leave a good amount of space between the track and any lights.

Once your tracks are safely drilled to the ceiling, you can start to hang up your curtains. Most tracks come with loops already attached but be sure to check whether you need to buy any extra hooks or connectors.