That old wallpapered screen from the attic transforms a corner into a dressing room.

How to Design a Free-Standing Room Divider

by Benna Crawford

A room divider can hide a mess or create a sense of order in a multi-purpose room. You don't have to spend a lot of money to screen off or separate portions of your space. Make the room-divider project a weekend priority and collect materials. Craft your own custom version of something elegant or funky for an instant truce between warring siblings or the illusion of privacy when you work at home.

Dilapidated Doorway

Hinge salvaged doors together with two-way hardware for a free-standing screen in an eclectic or shabby-chic living room. Spray doors that are charmingly distressed with clear matte finish to preserve the crazed paint. Paste panels of antique wallpaper in panel doors or add tarnished mirror glass to "age" them more. Move the folding room divider to the dining room or kitchen and paint inset door panels with chalkboard paint for handy messages, spontaneous sketching or inspirational messages that change with the mood or season. Two hinged doors dress up a dull corner and provide a backdrop for a favorite wing chair or potted fern. Three or more section off a corner of the room for a home office.

Scenic Sectionals

Tall, skinny, framed blank canvases or pressed cardboard panels open a teen's bedroom to a wider world while closing off a private corner. Paint a mural, a trompe l'oeil scene -- such as the perfect surfer's beach or an adoring audience from the viewpoint of the performer -- on the canvases, splitting the scene into panels before sketching and painting them on the canvas. Attach the frames together with two-way hinges. Cut a wall mural into sections to glue to cardboard panels fastened together vertically with heavy cloth tape that allows you to bend the panels in either direction. Or link the sections of cardboard or canvas and let your teen invite her friends in for a graffiti party to cover the room divider with their own brand of art.

Wheelie Crates

The twins have enough sports gear to stock a store in their shared bedroom. And, short of piling it to the ceiling, they have no private space. Lash a bunch of colorful plastic milk crates together with cable ties, set them on a piece of 3/4-inch lumber you've painted a bright enamel shade, and put locking casters on the lumber base. Instant room divider, color-customizable and movable. Screw the bottom row of crates to the lumber for stability, or drill holes just large enough to thread more cable ties to fasten them down. Assign each twin his own color for his individual gear or mix it up for a crayon-box of vivid hues. Alternate crate openings so each child has some facing his bed, and wheel the divider between beds, locking the casters to keep it in place.

Recycled Original

Go green and ease your conscience about all those empty clear plastic water bottles you don't want to consign to the landfill. Remove the labels from identical 1-liter or larger bottles and string them together with wire in vertical columns that attach at top and bottom to lengths of bamboo. The top rod is a bamboo pole suspended from the ceiling with clear monofilament and small eye-hooks. The bottom foundation is a split bamboo pole screwed or braced to the floor. For a room divider you can move, string the bottles on stiff wire inside rectangular wood-frame panels, glue decorative lengths of split bamboo to the frames and connect the panels with two-way hinges. Light shining on or through the plastic creates an interesting gleam.


  • Recycled Spaces; Vinny Lee

About the Author

Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .

Photo Credits

  • BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images