Ideas for Transitional Elements and Room Dividers

glass cabinet doors

Combine the spaciousness of an open floor plan with the order and function of defined rooms by using creative transitional elements and room dividers.

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Define an Entry

back entryway

A built-in bookcase carves out a small entryway in this open-plan home. A change in floor height between the entry and the nearby kitchen also creates separation without closing off any of the space.

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Add Elegance with Columns

low wall divider

Thick columns topped with beautiful crown molding lend style and separation between this living room and the adjacent kitchen. The half-wall between the columns was topped with a slab of granite, transforming the space into a casual breakfast bar. Family members and guests seated in the living room can easily converse with the chef without getting in the way of the work zone.

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Use Windows as Room Dividers

Livingroom with dandilion picture focal point

Here, a bank of multipane windows between the living room and the front hallway makes both areas feel lighter and airier. Long shelves below the windows provide another layer of separation as well as open storage and display space.

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Mark Transitions with a Change in Elevation


A floor-level change and a broad passage delineate this entryway from the living room, sharing views while preserving a separate identity for each space. The family room's lowered floor allows the ceiling to truly soar.

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Outfit the Entry with Storage

high gloss cabinets

Here, a large storage unit installed on one side of the front door gives the look of a distinguished entryway. Rather than extending the piece from floor to ceiling, it only extends 3/4 of the way up the wall, which delineates areas of the main level without interrupting the flow of the open floor plan. The high-gloss finish of the storage unit reflects natural light, helping the the space feel even more open.

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Balance Passageways

fireplace divider

Two doorways flanking both sides of a large built-in storage unit and fireplace combo create an open passageway between the living room and kitchen. Including two doorways not only adds to the openness of the home, but it also lends a sense of balance that blends well with the traditional-style decor.

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Divide with Built-Ins


Both a storage wall and a style statement, this wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry creates a breezy separation between the front entry and the kitchen. The frosted-glass inserts on the upper cabinets also help the divider look more airy.

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Unify with Trimwork

corner divider

The coffered ceiling, crown molding, and wall paneling used throughout this home's main level create visual harmony amongst the spaces. Changes in the color of the wall coverings lend separation between the entryway, dining room, and living room.

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Create Openness with Partial Walls

low wall divider

To open up the room-to-room flow that encourages social engagement, limit the number of walls that you use to define separate spaces. Here, a quarter-wall offers slight separation between the front entry and the living room without blocking the stream of light from gracing both areas.

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Make a Barrier Island


Outfit a spacious kitchen with a large island to underscore its role in subdividing a great-room and kitchen. This large island guides traffic through the doorways on either side of the kitchen rather than through the main work zone. A trio of chairs opposite the range offer a perch for guests to chat with the chef.

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Increase Privacy with Frosted Glass

glass privacy screen

Create privacy in a bathroom by installing a frosted-glass wall panel. Unlike a normal wall, this frosted-glass option allows light to pass freely between the main area and the toilet while still offering plenty of privacy. Sharing light enhances the sense of space in both areas.

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Delineate Space with Columns and Beams

wood beam wall deviders

With a wide open floor plan and soaring vaulted ceilings, this home could have ended up looking stark and cold. But rustic wood beams and columns affixed to the walls and ceiling lend separation and help break up the expansive main level. Here, the columns and beams join to form a faux doorway between the entry and living room.

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Connect Rooms with a Pass-Through

china hutch

Here, an opening between the formal dining room and kitchen makes the spaces seem bigger and provides shelves for storage and display. The cabinets above the countertop feature glass shelves and window panelike doors, allowing light from the large kitchen window to stream into the dining room.

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Fake an Entryway with a Partition

screen divider

In this home, the front door opens immediately to the living room, but a freestanding folding screen offers slight separation between the areas. In addition to saving money on a costly renovation, the partition defines space while still allowing light to pass freely throughout the faux entry and living room.

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Divide a Room with a Banquette

Banquette ideas

A built-in banquette creates a smooth transition between the kitchen and nearby living room. In addition to providing a casual dining spot, the banquette creates a smoother transition between the hardworking kitchen and the relaxing living area.

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Distinguish Zones with Furniture

counter divider

Lofts satisfy the desire for generous living space, but they also call for creativity in addressing the natural desire for functional zones. Clever furniture arrangements help distinguish the zones throughout the main level of this home while still emphasizing the wide-open floor plan.

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Craft a Subtle Division

Versatile Vanity in Bathroom

In this bathroom, the back-to-back vanities are separated by a dark-stained wood wall, which lets the homeowners be in the bathroom at the same time without getting in each others' way. The wall and vanity tables were constructed from the same wood, which allows seamless division between the pieces.

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Bisect Space with a Fireplace

fireplace room divider

A floor-to-ceiling double-sided fireplace divides a long, narrow room into two separate living spaces. Each area benefits from the cozy fire, but the room feels more welcoming with the addition of the separation. Expansive sliding glass doors allow a steady stream of light to grace both living rooms.

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Put Up a See-Through Wall


Obscured-glass panels suspended from the ceiling form a sleek partition between this dining room and the nearby living room. The frosted-glass panels provide the separation offered by standard walls, but they don't interrupt the open floor plan of the home's main floor.

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Use Pocket Doors

kitchen doors

To divide areas of the home without taking up too much floor space, consider installing pocket doors between rooms. Here, a set of glass-paned pocket doors provide separation between the kitchen and hallway. Even when the doors are closed, the glass window panes allow light to stream freely between the two areas.

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Define with Storage

glass cabinet doors

A banquette-island combo installed in this kitchen makes the most of the room's limited real estate. In addition to providing plenty of prep space, the banquette creates separation between the kitchen and formal dining room. Glass-panel cabinet doors on the dining room side of the unit provide storage space for pretty drinking glasses.

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