Design & Conquer

Master Interior Designer Perla Lichi conquers a space problem with a functional art room divider

By Patrice Janel
Photography: Craig Denis, Miami

“Divide and rule, the politician cries; Unite and lead, is watchword of the wise.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The strategy of division and rule or “divide and conquer” has been attributed to sovereigns ranging from Louis XI to the Habsburgs. The maxim “divida et impera” has been attributed to Philip II of Macedon, and the theory was certainly utilized by the Roman ruler Caesar and the French emperor Napoleon. The more things change, as the French say, the more they stay the same.

Master interior designer Perla Lichi put this age-old theory to good use recently to solve a common space problem that often occurs in today’s open-plan interiors. You might say that she used the division strategy to conquer a difficult space problem.

View from kitchen dining table into living room

Cool Respite for Hot Miami Days
Perla and I are standing in the living room of a recently designed South Florida townhome, the vacation home of a South American couple. It has a fresh Miami look that provides cool respite throughout the year, but especially on those sweltering South Florida days and nights. A white background is accented with furniture and accessories in today’s popular peacock colors of chartreuse and aqua. The designer has also used some of her “mirror tricks” including a wall-size mirror in the living room to make the relatively small space appear to be much larger than it actually is. White lacquer applied moldings frame mirror and wallpaper inserts, giving the room a more spacious feeling.

“Before we did these interiors, you would open that front door and look right straight across to the refrigerator! It was definitely not the effect we wanted.”

Before the art divider was added, the view from the front door (at right in the photo) was straight into the kitchen

Design and Conquer
“Our solution was a custom room divider designed specifically for the space, with a white cabinet base for storage and a framed, etched glass top centered above. A piece of art when viewed from any direction, it doesn’t completely block the view from either side. This ‘functional art’ does successfully obfuscate the direct view of the kitchen from the front entrance, making the sense of arrival much more visually appealing. And, while it has this aesthetic advantage, it serves another function by defining an eat-in dining area in the kitchen. Without adding a wall, we created two rooms out of one.”

The all-white contemporary kitchen with stainless appliances features an island bar centered beneath three contemporary pendant lamps. In addition to recessed ceiling lighting, a contemporary track light follows the contour of the dining table. A mirror on the kitchen wall makes the space look about three times as large as it actually is.

Track lighting follows the contours of the dining table

Why Divide?
Perla volunteers more information about room dividers. “They come in many shapes and sizes. Some have a very specific function such as those positioned for privacy. When there is no actual foyer, a custom divider – be it a built-in cabinet or an open shelf or even a piece of furniture – can help define the entryway to any home, large or small. Most dividers provide both privacy and a beautiful look, giving shape and structure to an otherwise wide open area. Dividers come in custom shapes, colors, sizes and can be created from any material you can imagine – from decorative metal shapes to wooden barn doors to etched glass or acrylic – anything, really, that you can imagine that blends well with your décor style.

“With this great built-in flexibility, the possibilities for room dividers are endless,” says Perla, whose own personality is often described as larger than life. “Dividers are a really great way to add personality to any room.”

Learn more about Perla Lichi online at


Design & Conquer