Many people like the expansive airiness of open-plan living and the benefit of being able to see the telly from the dining room table. But some occasions call for a cosier atmosphere. Bobby Chinn restaurant in Hanoi (1 Ba Trieu St, Hoan Kiem District, tel + 84 4 934 8577; www.bobbychinn.com ) has an open dining room that's dominated by a large bar in the centre, but it manages to create pockets of privacy without sacrificing style or space. Flowing silk curtains descend from curtain rods, aerially carving the floor plan into a series of interconnected yet visually distinct eating areas when unfurled, or maintaining the open dining space when tied up. The flexibility of this artful device is easy to achieve at home, says interior designer Joyce Lam of Larredo Interiors in Central, and could be especially effective between an open-plan living room and dining room. There are unlimited design options owing to the range of fabrics available. To create a dramatic effect during the day, Lam suggests using sheer or organza fabric for the curtain. 'That way, the light isn't blocked and you can bring in some colour and dress up the room,' she says. High quality sheers and organza cost about $1,000 a metre. For evening, Lam suggests a heavy silk or something textured to add dimension while keeping the look simple. These materials cost about $1,500 to $2,000 a metre. For installation, Lam says the easiest option is a straightforward, pole-style curtain rod, with attractive finials (available in a range of styles) at each end. With this kind of system the curtains can be knotted to create a screen-like effect. Installation of a three-metre rod with finials costs about $2,000, and rods can be cut to order. Ikea is a good source for DIY enthusiasts.